For a vertical that is typically considered extremely price sensitive, digital leaders in the retail industry have learnt that premium customer experience is the true differentiator in today’s turbulent environment. Adobe’s 2018 Digital Retail Trends Report has discovered ‘Customer Experience’ as the greatest competitive advantage – and therefore business focus – for industry digital leaders in 2018.
Retailers, particularly in Asia Pacific, are standing in the middle of a wave of change; antagonism from international behemoth brands, hundreds of digitally born e-commerce start-ups and drastically changing consumer behaviour. As this competition heats up and brands compete on customer experience alone, many retailers are taking action for the future by moving to a single technology platform to ensure experiences are delivered seamlessly at speed and scale.
Competing With Giants
Retail’s legacy brands that were built on traditional brick and mortar stores are clear examples that a new approach must be taken to attract shoppers today. This year alone, Australia’s struggling legacy department stores have been overshadowed by the rise of e-commerce giants that are casting a long shadow into APAC’s consumer markets. In India, Amazonis jostling against domestic player Flipkart for the biggest share of 300 million local consumers. Across the border in China, digital behemoth Alibaba Group has expanded its online and offline reach into foreign markets, most recently opening a pop-up store in Australia and reflecting the ‘phygital’ trend towards digitally-enhanced offline experiences.
E-commerce giants are now using billion-dollar research and development budgets to push the limits within the retail industry, especially those players based in APAC. WeChat alone has become a one-stop shop for consumers to connect with their favourite activities and brands, and this single-platform service extension approach is now being replicated by retailers throughout the world.
But establishing a single-platform service that ensures seamless customer experiences is near impossible for most retailers that have been stitching together various tech solutions over the past decade. The Marketing Technology Landscape Supergraphic (2018) shows that there has been a 27% year-on-year global increase in marketing technology providers in 2018 alone – totalling a massive 6,829 individual providers. The average enterprise uses 91 marketing cloud services alone, and the average retail enterprise uses 1,206 cloud services across all departments – the highest individual cloud use of any vertical.
How can any retailer focus on delivering superior customer experience when they’re trying to make 90 individual tools integrate and work together? The complexity of the customer experience technology landscape is a problem that retailers have faced, and are now bypassing, in other regions around the world.
Across Europe and the United States, retailers are discovering the harsh effects that technology fragmentation can have on delivering premium customer experiences. Instead of integrating legacy solutions with each technology the business adds, many are now moving to a best-in-suite approach to ensure the speed and scale of their most important competitive advantage is kept seamless.
With digital marketing budgets again on the increase year-on-year, APAC retailers now have the opportunity to leap frog the hard lessons learnt by our regional counterparts, and prepare their business to deliver on the one metric that counts in the future.
Discover the trends facing retail leaders in 2018 and their approach to a turbulent environment in Adobe’s 2018 Digital Retail Trends Report.