New Deloitte report provides insight for retailers preparing for industry evolution

'One-size-fits-all' approach doesn't exist, firm says

NEW YORK — Retailers will have to rethink their position in the market, along with strategies they have used thus far, to keep themselves in the game, according to a new Deloitte report, "The Next Evolution: Store 3.0."

After surveying 39 retail executives in September 2011, the research firm discovered that retailers expect e-commerce sales to nearly triple over the next five years, yet nearly 8-out-of-10 (79%) believe the physical store will continue to be a primary place to shop. The issue at hand, Deloitte said, is for retailers to differentiate themselves by reconfiguring talent, physical space and store operations to meet or exceed customer expectations and understand there is no "one-size-fits-all" approach that will help drive business.

"A strategy [that aligns these dimensions] and is enabled by the right technology solutions can help retailers deliver a tailored experience for their customers," Deloitte said in the report. "It is an experience that begins before customers enter the physical store and continues long after they leave. Through the lens of the desired future customer experience, retailers should step back and ask themselves hard questions about where they are and where they need to go."

Deloitte did note, however, that four ideas should be kept in mind:

  • Refresh your strategy: It is critical that retailers refresh their strategy so their operating model can quickly respond to changes and trends in the marketplace and among their customers;

  • Improve the in-store customer experience: there is nothing more important for retailers than improving the customer experience now and into the future;

  • Revive your talent management strategies: As customers increasingly demand a more personalized experience, your sales associates become even more critical in achieving that goal; and

  • Connect your customers virtually from the physical store: As the lines between the virtual and the physical stores converge, retailers should consider opportunities that connect customers and extend the in-store brand experience through all channels. Blending a personalized in-store experience with a virtual connection to the brand can help retailers establish a lasting relationship with customers after they leave the store.

For a full copy of the report, download it here.

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