by Editorial Team
January 25, 2017

Retailers spend millions on digital change. This will result in more success as consumers are becoming ever-more mobile and connected

What is the future of retail about and what does it take to make this future a reality right now? This was just one of the many topics covered at the Digital Life Design Conference (DLD) in Munich. On Monday, Wirecard CEO Dr Markus Braun discussed with William Kim, CEO of AllSaints, and Dr Johannes Steegmann, CMO of REWE Digital, what is needed to take retail to the next level. Liz Bacelar, a global leader at the intersection of fashion, retail and technology as well as the founder of TheCurrent, moderated the panel.

Today’s customers access multiple channels to make purchases, requiring all channels to work seamlessly together

Retailers are being driven to engage with customers differently due to technological innovations and therefore create different experiences, whether in a physical store, online, on a smartphone or tablet. Today, customers access multiple channels to make purchases that are quickly delivered, requiring all channels to work seamlessly to support the brand and the experience.

Therefore, it is no surprise that retailers are increasingly experimenting with mobile to facilitate, for example, click-and-collect models. Some merchants already enable customers to buy via mobile and pick up in-store, while others are using mobile to send notifications whenever an order is ready for in-store pickup.

The Mobile first approach and customer-centricity are key factors for success

 Panel participants at the DLD Conference were all in agreeance that the mobile first approach and customer-centricity are aligning in a special way driving stores to become smarter and more attuned to the shopping habits of their customers. Mobile devices are beginning to dominate the commerce landscape and at the same time provide more information about their users. Dr Braun emphasized the necessity to transform this data into valuable digital transactions, because it is with this data that retailers gain deeper insights that help them better engage, activate and retain shoppers, e.g. with loyalty or reward programs.

These personalized offers help enhance the brand and attract new customers. The merchants build stronger customer relationships and retention by providing them with value added services. Furthermore merchants have to start analysing online and offline data together and in doing so will game them a more comprehensive picture of their customers’ shopping journeys.

The merchant of the future has to digitalize its end-to-end process

Another important aspect of the future of retail are state-of-the-art payment methods like real time payments. They enable new modes of commerce with great benefits for the banking industry, merchants and society as a whole: For example, banks want to meet customer demands for the immediate transfer of funds from one account to another, convenience and at a low cost will be the result.

Dr Braun stressed the importance that in order to accomplish this, retailers have to optimize and to digitalize their end-to-end processes and to keep up with the times. As a company for payment processing and internet technology across all sales channels, Wirecard is a successful pioneer in this field. The combination of mobile technology and banking services, as Wirecard also has its in-house bank, is the basis for this leading role.

Advancing digitisation goes hand in hand with state of the art payment solutions

Advancing digitisation goes hand in hand with further trendsetting payment solutions: Contactless payment allows the customer to simply tap their contactless-enabled payment instrument like a smartphone or wearable on your point-of-sale device, removing the need to swipe, insert or manually key. This saves time on both sides of the counter, speeds up check out processes and thus leads to less frustration of the customers.

So what is the one thing that the digital future of retail depends on? Digital development can no longer be a side-project, but must move to the heart of business strategy.

Retailers have to accept the philosophy of constant change as an opportunity

As Dr Braun puts it: Retailers have to accept the philosophy of constant change as an opportunity. It is their chance to define payment solutions as a lifestyle aspect. New technologies will offer retailers a channel that creates a perfect synergy between payments, loyalty, marketing and advertising. With today’s shopper and their new shopping journeys, it has become more important than ever to optimize a shopper’s visit to store or site. In order to achieve this, merchants have to think of ideas that truly meet the needs of a multi-generational, connected, demanding and diverse customer of the future – not of the past. Above all, it will require real alignment and recognition at board level that the future of the business is different from its past.