What do customers really want and how can technology meet consumer needs?

With a dedicated theme of digital co-creation for success and a focus on the importance of true collaboration and partnership to help businesses to achieve their goals, Fujitsu Forum 2018, Munich lived up to its record as one of the most significant technology events of the year. Arkessa was delighted to be at the event; read on for our insight into how developing and delivering user-centric technologies through collaboration could hold the key to the success of retail.

One of the many inspiring keynote sessions at the event featured Fleur Copping, VP, Head of Global Strategic Alliances, EMEIA Fujitsu, and Lisa Spelman, VP, Data Center Group, Intel, who spoke on the importance of true partnerships for the success of reaching key business objectives. By being reactive – through innovating and developing technology based on customer needs and expectations – technology companies are able to deliver user-centric solutions and technologies to their customers.

This is particularly key in the retail sector where user (customer) experience is fundamental to success. Breakout sessions entitled ‘AI capabilities in-store’ and ‘The big challenge – taking your customers experience to the next level’ were packed full of insights for those with a dedicated consumer focus in the retail sector.

What do consumers want?

Key answers to the question of what consumers want were visible throughout the entirety of Fujitsu Forum. The consumers of today are demanding a personalised shopping experience, and they are willing to part with their valued personal data in order to receive this kind of optimised service, as long as retailers can give them reassurance that their data is safe. They want their shopping experience to be quick, efficient, and easy, and if a physical store can provide this, then consumers would prefer to shop in store rather than online. Queuing is the main pain point in store so technology that can reduce or even eliminate queues will be extremely popular with consumers.

Arkessa caught up with Richard Clarke, VP of Global Retail at Fujitsu, to find out his view on the kind of challenges retailers are facing, what consumers really want, and how technology can help to deliver the very best customer experience.

‘At the moment, we are going through the ‘Uber-isation’ of retail. The way that you call your taxi today; you want it now, you want to know the price, you want it to be personalised – this is the way you want to be treated when you walk into a large store or supermarket; you want to be able to find the products, to have the price and other information about the product at your fingertips, and if you run into any problems, you want the retailer to know who you are, especially if you are a regular, loyal customer.

‘One of the key challenges for the retailing space, particularly against the background of online retailers such as Amazon, but also influences like Uber or AirBnB is that consumer expectations are being shaped by things outside the retailers’ control. It’s a real challenge for retailers – how do they deliver the same kind of experience that consumers have online within a bricks-and-mortar scenario?’

Collecting data on consumers is an important step, Richard says, but it’s important to understand how to use the data for the benefit of shoppers. ‘As a retailer, you’ve got to work out how best to harness digital technologies to deliver an optimised experience to the customer. How do you use digital technologies to put information into the hands of a store colleague or an area manager running several stores in order to make a difference?’

Collaboration is key

For Fujitsu and their customers and partners, creating strong, collaborative ecosystems is increasingly important in order to deliver optimum service. Richard describes why this is particularly important for the retail sector.

‘From a technology provider’s point of view, there is so much disruption and competition in the retail space that unless we really understand the kinds of problems retailers are facing, then we’re simply not going to be involved as a partner for the future. We know that Fujitsu can deliver the technology but it’s about understanding what the business case is, and integrating technologies in a way that solves real problems. What Fujitsu can bring is more innovation, and more rock-solid delivery and support, and that combination together de-risks a lot of these innovative POCs and experiments that retailers worry might not work out. Connecting the technology to real life is key.’

Technology is fundamental to success in retail – it is possible that it will provide the insights, tools, business models, and new revenue streams that could save the household names of the high street.

Check out the Arkessa whitepaper on the Future of Retail for more details on how bricks-and-mortar retailers can provide the kinds of personalisation and service that consumers experience online.

With many thanks to Richard Clarke, VP of Global Retail at Fujitsu for his insights, and to the Fujitsu Global team for such a fantastic event. You can download videos and presentations from the event on the Fujitsu Forum page.

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