How to Embrace Digital Disruption in the Retail Industry

After a year that was the definition of disruption, it’s time to think about this term in a positive way. The events of 2020 sped up changes in consumer expectations and behavior. The speed of change made it difficult for brick and mortar stores to catch up with their digital-first eCommerce competitors. 

However, it was also a reset for retail shops, enabling them to enhance operations and improve customer relationships. The post below examines what digital disruption means and how retailers embrace digital disruption using MapQuest for Business technologies to gain a competitive edge. 

What Does Digital Disruption Mean for Retail?

Digital disruption is when digital technologies spur a change in behaviors or expectations and influence the value proposition of services or goods. For example, the rise of eCommerce led to a shift in how consumers shop, and the introduction of electronic books affected how people buy and read books. 

A Change in Consumer Behavior and Expectations

Retail digital disruption leads to fundamental changes in consumer behavior and expectations. A well-known example is the “Amazon effect,” where access to online marketplaces changed the brick-and-mortar model forever. 

Although these changes are complex for retailers to navigate, they also provide retailers with opportunities. Shop owners who embrace digital disruption and use it to design better experiences benefit by:

  • Expanding their customer base
  • Increasing customer engagement levels
  • Reducing expenses and improving efficiencies
  • Predicting trends and acting on that data
  • Proactively responding to market shifts

The Shift in Customer Expectations 

According to the Salesforce “State of the Connected Customer,” consumer expectations rose in 2020, with 88% of customers expecting “companies to accelerate digital initiatives due to COVID-19.” Furthermore, the report notes:

  • 83% of customers expect to engage with someone immediately when contacting a company — up from 78% in 2019.
  • 52% of customers expect offers always to have personalization — up from 49% in 2019.
  • 83% of customers expect flexible shipping and fulfillment options such as buy-online-pick-up-in-store.

How Location Data Helps Retailers Meet New Expectations 

Retailers use location data to meet and exceed consumer expectations. MapQuest for Business tools help store owners improve shopping experiences, from showing personalized content to making pickup or delivery seamless. 

The MapQuest for Business application programming interfaces (APIs) let retailers customize customer-facing technologies by adding searchable mapping features so that consumers can locate a nearby store. APIs also allow shoppers to view the progress of their delivery or pick up a package curbside with minimal effort. 

The Change in Consumer Behavior

While customers still enjoy in-store experiences, “58% of consumers expect to do more online shopping after the pandemic than before.” Moreover, customers anticipate that retailers will offer contactless payment methods and curbside delivery or click-and-collect options. The desire for convenience extends to every interaction with your store and employees. 

Retail customers shop at your store for a reason, like low prices, a convenient location, or responsive customer service. Yet, digital technology advancements mean shoppers can look at a big-ticket item in your store and use their cell phone to search for better prices online. Or they browse your website at home, make a purchase, and pick it up curbside. 

In each case, the consumers’ perception of value and benefits plays a role in their behavior and buying decisions. While they may find a lower price elsewhere, the convenience of click-and-collect backed by generous return policies or local customer service may entice them to buy an item for a slightly higher price. 

How Location Solutions Deliver Consumer Insights

Retailers use MapQuest for Business APIs to understand consumer movement, intent, and real-world visitation. Combining first-party location data with other digital analytics gives retailers a clearer understanding of their target market’s behavior, empowering them to recognize shifts before they occur. 

Moreover, location-based technologies help retailers personalize their digital and in-store offerings using geocoding. They can promote a sale on a current customer’s favorite item or suggest upgrades based on previous purchases.

Embrace Digital Disruption to Compete in the Retail Industry

Consumer expectations and behavior are hard to track in a fast-paced world filled with exciting new technologies. Traditional retailers facing competition from eCommerce sites must move quickly to adjust to change and ensure their value proposition meets customer demands. Adding geospatial solutions to a tech stack gives retailers the flexibility to recognize these shifts and act swiftly. Discover how easy it is to add location-based technologies by reaching out to our MapQuest for Business team.

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