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Retail Expert Weighs in on What Retailers Must Know About Digital Transformation

Today’s consumer is digitally informed and enters stores with an expectation that retailers will employ technology to deliver value, convenience, service and competitive prices. To help retailers better understand these evolving expectations, Digimarc discussed the issues with Planet Retail, which recently surveyed senior level retailers in Asia, North American and Europe about their outlook on 2017.

Planet Retail’s Miya Knights authored the survey, and we asked Miya about some of the high-level takeaways from her research.

Digimarc: The death of the brick-and-mortar store has long been predicted. Based on your data, is it dead yet?

Miya: No. Not by a long shot. While e-commerce and mobile growth has dominated the headlines, there is a definite shift in strategic understanding of the role of the physical store as part of an omni-channel proposition on the part of retailers of all shapes and sizes. As a result, the operational and logistical infrastructure required to support such a proposition has risen up the strategic agenda to now put pressure on retailers to match physical store and supply chain investment levels with those they must now also devote to non-store sales and engagement.

Digimarc: Based on your research, are global retailers investing more in customer engagement or focusing on supply chain efficiencies?

Miya: The short answer is both. To date, the digitalization of the shopping experience has led retailers to focus front and center on the customer. It is unsurprising then that improving the ways of engaging with consumers in the various ways in which they want to shop (using traditional stores, e-commerce, and order or reserve and collect) emerged as one of the areas that will top the agenda of over 350 global executives in 2017. Yet the research confirmed that frontline IT investment will likely be coupled with an increasing focus on the supply chain efficiency needed to support omni-channel commerce.

Digimarc: Do you have any big-picture strategic feedback for brands?

Miya: Yes, I’d stress the need for brands to re-evaluate and overhaul their core go-to-market strategies. Outdated product development and management systems can no longer maximize back-office effectiveness or seamless customer engagement. Taken to its logical conclusion, those retailers and brands invested in Private Label development should support end-to-end design, manufacturing, distribution and marketing activity with real time, attribute-rich and multimedia data access internally, among suppliers and for customers.

Digimarc: In your survey, you report on the top buying triggers for global consumers. Any immediate takeaways that come to mind?

Miya: Well, we learned that price, and levels of convenience, speed and service are still the main factors most consumers use to weigh up the value of a competitive retail and/or brand offering. But digital tools, such as attribute or image search, price comparison, ratings and reviews, user videos, and buy or reserve online, and deliver to home or collect in-store services, have changed the game when it comes to why and how a consumer chooses to navigate each shopping journey or engage with a retailer and/or brand.

Digimarc: If you had to summarize your survey’s conclusion in a few sentences, what would it be?

Miya: That’s not an easy task, but I’d say we are doing business during a time of unprecedented change driven by the digitalization of shopping in the 21st century. And as a result, retailers are seeking to embrace new and better, digitally-enabled ways of working across both their customer-facing and supply chain operations so they can ride these waves of change more effectively to gain a competitive advantage.

To download a free copy of the Digimarc-PlanetRetail survey, please click here.

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