In just a few years, the Consumer & Retail industry has undergone nothing short of a paradigm shift. At the same time as e-commerce groups like Amazon continue to eat up the market share of the more traditional retailers – 9,000 stores are expected to close in the US this year alone – shoppers have also changed their customer experience expectations. Consumers want to be able to search information about the products they’re interested in, and they want to be able to try them and buy them wherever and whenever they want, whether it’s in the store itself or in the comfort of their own homes. “Basically they expect the customer experience to remain the same regardless of where they are or what they’re doing,” says Anna Liljedahl, Senior Advisor at TECHNIAs independent retail-industry focused consulting arm Infuseit.
Retailers need to either innovate and adapt to their client’s fast-paced and connected lifestyles or face being wiped out altogether.
“It’s all about being able to provide them with one single source of information,” Liljedahl states, stressing the importance of also being transparent with the ability to provide as detailed information as possible, as fast as possible. Then Liljedahl mentions another important stakeholder: “Or if a regulator wants a list of the components in your products, you need to be able to give it to them with a moment’s notice.”
Mattias Norin, Business Area Director for Consumer and Retail at TECHNIA, agrees adding that it’s not just the way that people shop physically that has changed, it’s their whole philosophy of consuming. “The throwaway mentality of the 80s and 90s doesn’t exist anymore,” he observes. “We still want quality products both fast and cheap, but not at any cost,” he says, pointing to shoppers’ raised ethical and environmental awareness. This has led to an increasing number of retailers switching to a more circular economy in which products and materials are either recycled, regenerated or reused. “Customers don’t need to ‘own’ in the same way they used to, they’re just as happy to lease or rent a product. They want to contribute to a more sustainable world and so they look for ways to pass their items on, or recycle them in other ways. And they increasingly favor retailers who allow them to do that,” he says.
Norin underscores the challenge of staying competitive in a world where shoppers have become more conscious and sophisticated than ever. Making careful choices not only when it comes to the products themselves, but also when it comes to the vendors they choose and the underlying manufacturing processes behind their products of choice. This, along with the super digitization of society in general, means that retailers need to either innovate and adapt to their client’s fast-paced and connected lifestyles or face being wiped out altogether.
“In addition to all the rules and regulations that already exist and which are continuously being tightened, there’s now a huge amount of information for retailers to process and manage – in real time,” Norin says. Then the adds: “To stay competitive, you need to do this fast and efficiently and this is where PLM and our consulting can help. There’s just no time for mistakes.”
Infuseit is an independent consultancy department at TECHNIA. Infuseit’s experts provide companies with the best possible advice on how to embrace technologies and methodologies for information management from a lifecycle perspective. Infuseit’s consultants have spent years working in operational roles in your industry and can therefore help you fuse the right tools with the right strategies to bring about the progress you’re looking for.