The retail industry has embraced the digital reality of the modern world for some time now. Thanks to smartphones, tablets, and a growing network of 'online only' businesses, the bricks and mortar stores of big retail brands welcome consumers who often already have a very good idea about what they're coming in to buy.
Consumers have long shown themselves to be comfortable with online retail, and because of this, businesses have been able to easily gather insights about who their customers are, and what they buy. The onset of the Internet of Everything, and the monumental increase in connectivity potential this holds, means retailers now have a huge opportunity to gather and learn from consumer data.
The Internet of Everything retail evolution looks set to have the biggest impact on the demographic dubbed 'Uber Digitals'. Usually aged between 30 and 34, these shoppers not only browse and purchase online, but also use their smartphones while in store, as well as onsite devices provided by retailers.
The number of Uber Digitals is growing rapidly - they represent 18% of the U.S. population alone, up from 11% last year. Despite this growth, there is a distinct lack of trust when it comes to the retail industry's ability to handle consumer data. In the 2013 Cisco Consulting Digital Shopping Behaviour survey, retailers were ranked below hospitals and healthcare providers, government agencies, financial institutions and credit card companies in terms of consumer confidence in their levels of data protection.
Currently Uber Digitals are only willing to share 'transactional info', required to make a purchase, but nothing more. If retailers want to obtain more information about their customers, the survey suggests they would need to offer incentives, such as discounts, in order to convince consumers to share personal and behavioural data.
The survey also revealed that consumers would be open to a more personalised shopping experience made possible through the Internet of Everything, with the most popular idea being an app that could amalgamate the user's existing offers and loyalty points, and produce a personalised price for an item.
Respondents also liked the idea of a mobile concierge app, which would a personal greeting to customers as they enter a store, and guide them to particular items, relating to their purchase history. Depending on the level of interest and location-based information given by the consumer, the app could provide additional offers specific to the user.
The Internet of Everything offers huge potential for retail customisation but this all depends on consumers' willingness to hand over personal data. If retailers can improve consumer confidence in this area, then the possibilities for the future of the retail experience are endless.