Digital Innovation in Retail: What Do Customers Really Want?

April 7, 2017

The world of retail is changing almost every single day. But, do retailers really know how it is changing?

Do they really know what their customers want? Looking at what is happening in the retail industry, some might not be as in the loop as others. Every retailer is starting to realize that they need to offer e-commerce, but nobody really seems to know how to do it, let alone how to do it profitably.

There are many initiatives out there, but even the best of organizations are still not clear on their strategy given the trial and error approach they are taking. They only know that they need to offer e-commerce. The other element retailers are struggling with is how integrate this new channel into their existing business. Many retailers know exactly how to open up a new store and what their ROI will be, but with e-commerce they are entering a world of unknowns.

It all starts with knowing what the customer really wants. The customer is looking for an experience that is:

  1. Relevant
  2. Valuable
  3. Simple


Technology has made it easy for retailers to offer a ton of bright and shiny options to their customers, but the question they really should be asking is, “is it relevant?” Is it really necessary for the user to be able to zoom into bananas? Or would they be more interested in being able to choose fresh, ready to eat bananas vs. green bananas that are ready to eat in a couple of days?

Shopping for weekly groceries is a different shopping experience than buying new clothes, a laptop or tools online. So, the user experience for these purchases should be completely different. Product descriptions and reviews are very important when buying a laptop, but when buying bananas, the nutritional information and country of origin are much more relevant.

Retailers need to make sure that the customer experience is suitable for the offer. Determine what is the essential information a customer needs in order to make an informed, shopping decision and start with the most relevant information.


After locating the most relevant information, now it’s time to find what else would be valuable to the customer. It all starts with understanding what the customer really wants. Then build the user experience accordingly, set up the operation that fits those needs and can be easily integrated into the existing business to create a seamless customer experience.

Value will come in many different forms depending on what the consumer is shopping for. Would showcasing recipes they could make from the items in their cart be valuable? What about offering coupons for items similar to what they are shopping for? Would customers find a click & collect or delivery option valuable? The answer is again, “what do your customers want?”.

Customers are looking for convenience, but what is convenient for them today, might not be as convenient for them tomorrow. Today, they might want to pick products up from store, while tomorrow it might work better to have it delivered. It’s all about convenience for the customer and not convenience for the business!


Simplicity is one of the most underestimated elements. Customers are looking for an option that is quick and easy to use. They will value a basic and easy, relevant shopping experience much more than one that offers all the shiny gadgets. They just want to shop, browse, track and receive with ease. Most customers only appreciate gadgets when they add value.

Digital retail is here to stay and will become a bigger part of the customers spend. It will continue to evolve. As with most digital movements, the retailer must follow the basic principles of:

  1. Keep it simple
  2. Deliver the Value
  3. Make it relevant


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