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'C-Tailing' Blends the Best of On- and Offline Shopping

four arrows converging Illustration by Michaeldb for Dreamstime.com

Retailers need to adopt a converged retailing strategy that complements the in-store experience with a consumer's personal technology and social sharing if they want to remain competitive in today's market. That's the message global technology giant NCR hopes to hammer home with retailers at the National Retail Federation BIG Show in New York next week.

As virtual deal hunting across online and mobile channels becomes an integral part of the shopping experience, consumers now demand that retailers provide convergence across their physical and virtual channels, which NCR calls "c-tailing," to create a more efficient and enjoyable shopping experience.

NCR believes these five key retail trends in 2012 will shape the move to a converged shopping strategy by retailers:

  • New types of "experiential" store experiences will emerge that blend digital discovery and exploration with the sensory impact of seeing and touching products. Stores will use media-management software to change content on video walls and on interactive touch screens, in response to celebrity trends, ratings and social media reviews.
  • By offering free Wi-Fi, more retailers will enable consumers to compare price and features in-store using their smartphones. A near-match pricing strategy, along with a "buy online, pick up in store" capability, will accelerate convergence.
  • Online, personalized portals, based on a consumer-to-business, or C2B model, will enable consumers to share their preferences for brands, promotional offers and communication channels. In return, they will receive more-relevant, personalized offers and information in real time across online, mobile and physical store channels.
  • Collaborative shopping will enable consumers not only to share opinions with friends and family while shopping but also to engage in real-time shopping together as mobile and social commerce meets the physical store environment.
  • Retailers will reinvent the front-end experience as they continue the shift to personalized self-service, which will give consumers a choice about when and where they want to checkout purchases, as well as improve productivity and disperse the checkout experience across both the retailer's own service technologies and the consumer's personal technologies.

"Retailers are rethinking how the in-store experience can be complemented by a consumer's personal technology and social sharing to deliver better value and an enhanced customer experience," said Rick Chavie, vice president of retail marketing at NCR. "At NRF [National Retail Federation BIG Show], NCR will guide retailers through the c-tailing journey through the eyes of a consumer as well as the retail manager responsible for executing the vision in the physical store. This 360-degree view will highlight how retailers can implement the converged consumer experience today in a real-world environment."

Reach BusinessNewsDaily senior writer Ned Smith at nsmith@techmedianetwork.com. Follow him on Twitter @nedbsmith.

Ned Smith

Ned was senior writer at Sweeney Vesty, an international consulting firm, and was Vice President of communications for iQuest Analytics. Before that, he has been a web editor and managed the Internet and intranet sites for Citizens Communications. He began his journalism career as a police reporter with the Roanoke (Va.) Times, and was managing editor of American Way magazine and senior editor of Us. He was a Captain in the U.S. Air Force and held a masters in journalism from the University of Arizona.