The expansion of the digital environment, new digital platforms and technological offerings has been thrusting changes in consumer habits. And, as the behavior of consumers change, retail is also undergoing a transformation.
In the last few years the concept of omnichannel retail strategy – and how it can influence decision making in companies – has grown considerably. We have observed that what was then a competitive advantage, is becoming a fundamental aspect for the survival of businesses. And now, a new name arrives to this scenario: the metaverse, which was widely debated in the most important retail sector meeting, NRF22, which took place in New York City and showed the trends for the upcoming years.
A novelty for some, not so much for others, the word promises to reshape the market and e-commerce. It´s about a virtual world where reality is maximized using technology, suggesting an immersive experience for the user and a new path for social connections. What is more, it is directly connected to the omnichannel, because of the experience and integration between the analog and online channels.
In Brazil, this sales mode has been gaining ground recently, while abroad this market has been bustling for longer – an example is Facebook, that made waves around the world when it changed its name to Meta. According to the study The Metaverse, Web 3.0 Virtual Cloud Economies, carried out by Grayscale Investments in November 2021, the forecast is that the market opportunities generated with the birth of metaverse will generate US$1 trillion in the years to come.
Omnichannel and metaverse: complementary innovations
Do not think that metaverse is only connected to entertainment and the world of gamming? Corporate strategies and the level of digital development of companies can also be intertwined with it.
“Metaverse emerges as an evolution of omnichannel and Alt-commerce”, states Alexandre Ribas, a partner and Head of the Consumer Durables division at Falconi. Therefore, as this metaverse is developed further, so must the omnichannel. Before thinking about the future of this trend, however, it is important to analyze at which level the companies are.
Nowadays, infrastructure is one of the challenges that prevent, especially small and medium sized companies, to push forward in this field. So, beyond technology, it is necessary to manage this change without loosing sight of productivity. For example: “models like omnichannel or its evolution(s), encompass, among other aspects, considerable logistics, and it is necessary to optimize it in order to keep costs under control. Otherwise, omnichannel becomes unfeasible for the business”, says Ribas.
According to the specialist, companies have to focus in making their processes more efficient before they can implement any new technology or market trend. This includes having a deep knowledge of their customers, having solid and well-integrated databanks, efficient supply and distribution chains and, above all, clear strategies that connect with new business models, and are able to adapt to new customers, employees and other market needs.
“There is no room for inefficiency: your strategy must be able to react to new market and business models, new consumers and employees, while your operation must ensure that you pursue such paths” he states.
Ribas stresses these trends have not arrived at the productivity plateau in an even fashion, for all companies. In this sense, matters such as leadership and labor, if not well-employed, may affect retail negatively. That is so because omnichannel requires investment and responsibility.
How to prepare to put these trends into practice?
Firstly, it is necessary to have a clear strategy. “Companies, for the mos part, aren´t tech giants, so they need to know precisely where to allocate their resources”, Ribas emphasizes. According to him, it is paramount that the strategies of corporations be rethought so they go hand-in-hand with, and connect to, such transformations. Many companies are not aware of their weak points and do not look at technology visualizing how this would, effectively, shake the business chain. Therefore, it is necessary to exert a strategic analysis, guided by macroprocesses and the behavior of consumers.
“When we talk about building the strategy, that is precisely it: how can I get ready to cater to this consumer in this business? What needs to be changed in my chain so I can connect to this reality? There´s some lack of knowledge and clarity of what the major strategic goal are, because, if your goal it to go with the flow, you have no strategy”, he analyses.
Secondly, it is essential to invest in the company culture and on the development of people. Working together, in a manner that encompasses the company´s goals, organizational culture, and tools for the management of people. And it is not enough to add fancy labels. As consumers are progressively better connected and worried with matters of inclusion, social justice and climate change they value brands that are in sync with such values. In short, ESG principles must be integrated. Everything must converge, or the business model will not be a sustainable one.
The good news is that this scenario is filled with opportunities
Innovation creates best-practices for retail, but there is the need for a series of other elements to be brought onboard. As consumers are progressively more attentive, discerning, and connected to technology, expectations have changed and corporations must follow this move so they obtain new results and keep competitiveness.
Companies that have all of this in mind may provide their customers more than they expected for and less of what they do not want, increasing their relevance in the mind of the consumer and attracting new targets. Is your business ready?