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Unify the future

Melvin Nalbach’s view on digitalization and the future of retail.


︎︎︎LYNDEN WAARDENBURG / TECHNOLOGY
Remember the bag you’ve left in your digital shopping cart or the pair of jeans on your wishlist? There is a big chance you’ll soon receive an email to inform you about these forgotten items. But did you ever notice your item is being removed from your shopping cart after registered purchase in-store? Melvin Nalbach, Account Executive at Salesforce explains the effect of digitalization on the future of retail.

‘’Most of our time, we spend on listening to and learning from shoppers, customers and employees. Because of our data insights, we can differentiate trends for retail that are affecting the present and the future: 84% of the customers say being treated like a person is important for loyalty, 83% are also saying experience means more to them than product. These trends are forcing companies to think beyond their strategy. We are used to talking about technology being the solution, but the real transformation lies in brand-customer relationships.’’

A Personal Experience

How can technology influence the relationship between brand and customer?
‘‘Salesforce was founded as a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) company, thus customer success is at the root of all we do. CRM software is all about enabling companies to get a 360-degree view of their customers, helping them to get insight into their profile, orders, behaviour, complaints, you name it. This enables companies to grow and deepen relationships with their customers. Think of Adidas, who is providing a personalized shopping experience or Marlies Dekkers, who lets store employees run their online customer service since they know their customers best. No matter where a shopper is in their journey, brands need to know, personalize, engage and serve shoppers on every channel and device. And also deliver the next generation of buying experiences online and in-store.’’

What change did you notice between the two of them?
“When shopping in stores, roughly 68% of the customers say the experience with sales associates is key for returning to the store. They want their personal needs and preferences to be understood. Whilst shopping online, data can easily create a personal shopping surrounding. But it is much harder for a sales associate to read this data in real life. Because of this, approximately two-thirds of companies are losing their audience.’’



‘‘No matter where a shopper is in their journey,  brands need to know, personalize, engage and serve shoppers on every channel and device.  And also deliver the next generation of buying experiences online and in-store.’’
- Melvin Nalbach




Is the Future of Retail Online?

What is the biggest issue concerning technology adaptation for brands?
“Many customers prefer the advantages of offline shopping over online. Concerning fashion, people want to look, feel and test their products before buying. Via digital space, this is not possible. When committing to your product, you want to own it immediately and not wait for shipping. But, the experience doesn’t end with you finding and buying your product. Sometimes your order needs to be shipped. By unifying online and offline, we give customers the power to choose when, where and how orders are being shipped and delivered. This way they feel more powerful when shopping online.’’

What will combining online and offline look like?
‘‘A commerce platform which combines the online and offline activities allows companies to optimize in-store sales. They can provide a personalized shopping experience by receiving customer activity data across social, digital and more. With a single view, they can identify their customer habits, provide recommendations and give them the best experience. This means the future is a combination of both as long as the experience is seamless between the two of them.’’



‘‘I believe that the new generation of companies will continue to bring innovations that bring that personal, offline experience to consumers at home.”
- Melvin Nalbach




How did the Corona crisis affect this change?
“During the Corona crisis, we saw an interesting development when shops closed and consumers stayed at home. The people most resistant to online shopping were suddenly forced to do so. Brands needed to adapt to these shoppers who expected the same level as service as they were used to offline.
This accelerated the digital roadmaps for many of these companies, such as G-Star, Omoda and Oger.
Within weeks, they launched services such as online styling advice and live video chat with store agents. Due to the overwhelming success, most of these companies continued to offer this service after the shops reopened. I believe that the new generation of companies will continue to bring innovations that bring that personal, offline experience to consumers at home.”
By receiving customer activity data across social, digital and more sources, brands can  provide a personalized shopping experience. 

A Hybrid View

Our world is moving faster and faster every day. But for shopping, the change might not be in the way some of us expect. Brick and mortar will not be dead, neither will online shopping be the winner. When both online and offline shopping are unified, we can get the best shopping experience, regardless of how we purchase our items. Whether we set foot in a store or ordered our purchase online, the best of both worlds makes ours easier. In times of crisis, brands faced an interesting paradox; brands focussing mainly on brick and mortar were forced to become more digital, whereas online pure-players needed to get closer to the offline, personal experience. The question is, which innovations will stick, which will disappear, and which are yet to emerge.

Special thanks to Melvin Nalbach, Sr. Account Executive, Commercial Business - Salesforce
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