The ‘always on’ customer’s expectations of brand experience, along with the technologies available, are evolving fast. What capabilities must the retail industry develop in order to keep pace with the customer of the future?

General marketing classifications are being disrupted into irrelevance. As people become more digitally enabled, broad assumptions about their preferences and behaviour will cease to be of any great value to retailers.

Our report Connected Retail: Connecting with tomorrow’s customer… now looks at the fast-changing attitudes of consumers and how that will influence purchasing decisions.

Technology will increasingly facilitate businesses in connecting with customers in unprecedented ways, offering the opportunity to provide a superior experience by anticipating and surpassing their needs. This sort of meaningful engagement is exactly what the customer of tomorrow will seek.

Armed with this knowledge, how can organisations adapt to keep pace with both developing technologies and customer expectations?

The scale of capabilities required can certainly appear daunting, but they can be tackled strategically. We’ve prioritised what we see as areas of development to focus on now, and those to embed later on in the journey, in order to ensure retailers are equipped to deliver a successful Connected Retail experience going forward.

The capabilities retailers should prioritise today…

Real-time granular targeting and conversion

While today is hyper-targeted, tomorrow will represent the laser precision of customer engagement.

Granular targeting and conversion engages the customer of tomorrow by helping to predict buying behaviours and shape retail offers accordingly. Pulling together currently disconnected information will offer further insights that allow retailers to pinpoint individual shoppers at a specific time or place – making offers contextually relevant and causing brands to be more humanised.

Dynamic customer engagement

Facilitate the buying – not the selling – cycle with ideas, information and entertainment that are useful for the consumer.

Dynamic customer engagement means offering a real-time opportunity to connect with customers in a relevant way, building a relationship with them and demonstrating that you understand their point of view.

Branded customer experience

Tomorrow’s customer will buy the brand whose actions speak louder than words. Traditionally, brands focused on two major channels of communication with the customer: through the product and through marketing. Now, that messaging can travel a more extensive, personalised journey and is also of increasing importance to the customer.

Ensure your brand values are consistent across every touchpoint and leave the customer with a positive, emotional association with your brand that defines its point of difference.

… and those to prioritise tomorrow

Employees as advocates

Have employees got the will, the skill, the bandwidth and the permission to advocate for your brand?

If an employee is disinterested in the company, it impacts on the customer experience – therefore retailers should incorporate schemes that encourage staff buy-in. With customers seeking more information, employees must be equipped with the necessary skills and tools to aid them, allowed the capacity and time to perform, and empowered to make the decisions that will ultimately assist the customer experience.

Continuous offering innovation

Assess your processes for innovation. How do you identify an opportunity, innovate and move your offer on? Sustainable ongoing innovation can be achieved by intimately involving your customers and talent in product and service refinement or disruption.

Customer technology enablement

Challenge traditional methods of delivery to allow for changes in technology to be more easily integrated into an overall transformation. Without doing so, the speed of change means you could soon be outpaced by customer expectations (and competitors).

Agile service delivery

PwC research shows that 74% of businesses currently take two years to respond to disruption. A vital capability for the future is for organisations to rapidly reconfigure in order to respond to opportunity or threat. This approach allows them to be truly open to the voice of the customer in all functions and able to respond quickly.

For a full insight into our report, download your copy of Connected Retail: Connecting with tomorrow’s customer… now here.



John Riccio

John is PwC’s Global Design & Deploy, Experience Consulting partner.

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