Retailers’ Quest to Keep Up with Customers


Ever increasing customer expectations, retail transparency and today’s anywhere, anytime, anyhow shopping have put the customer experience center stage. There is no longer “online only” or “store only.” Shopping is now the convergence of the digital and physical worlds and that requires a new customer engagement model.

The customer journey has changed as consumers move across channels to research, purchase and review products with easy access to information and merchandise right in the palm of their hands. Consumers’ expectations are shaped by the wealth of information and capabilities at their fingertips (smartphones) and the experiences they encounter at every other retail interaction (online, mobile or physical).  The challenge for retailers is to “keep up” with continually evolving customer expectations. The gap between consumer demand for a personalized shopping experience and retailers’ current capabilities is what we call the “great digital divide.”

According to BRP’s “2019 POS/Customer Engagement Survey” (and other BRP surveys) several key gaps exist between customer expectations and retail execution:

This “great digital divide” is a result of the continued acceleration and elevation of consumers’ expectations and the time and cost associated with implementing new retail capabilities. Retailers’ lack of agility is often restricted by legacy software that is difficult to modify for the new technologies required to support consumer expectations, as well as limited budgets and technical resources. 

With the swift pace of disruption occurring today, retail winners need to accelerate the transformation of their business processes, organization, and technology to align with the demands of their customers. Unfortunately, traditional waterfall approaches to technology and processes are not nimble enough — they end up delivering last year’s requirements today. With an agile approach, retailers can accelerate project completion times, reduce the associated risks, match today’s requirements and lower costs throughout the lifecycle of the project. 

Adopting an agile mindset allows organizations to quickly respond to changing customer demands to “keep up” with the evolving requirements for delivering a personalized customer experience.

Victory belongs to the agile. 


Ken Morris is principal at BRP Consulting.

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