Why is luxury retailing a challenging business?

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Luxury products have always been one of the most admired and sought after products. So much so, that consumers of such products take pride in their possessions and are often considered to be of a higher class. They and their products are the ‘talk of the town’ most of the times in social gatherings and people like to be associated with such class conscious, brand loving and luxury seeking consumers. Luxury products therefore had few options and demanded a high cost of purchase deliberately tailored to a select set of consumers.

But now times have changed thanks to rapidly changing consumer mindsets and the very idea of “luxury” is evolving. The old-fashioned ideas that defined luxury as aspirational, high status, exclusive, wealthy, don’t really paint the exact picture of what customers perceive about luxury products. One of the drastic changes over the recent years is that the new age luxury isn’t for showoff.  Similarly other values that luxury brands exclusively attributed to, such as better quality and style, precise workmanship and great designs, are not exclusive any more to luxury.

Consumers’ tastes are evolving. There is an indisputable appeal for new products and services along with more choice of options yet having the flavor of uniqueness and exclusivity. This has given rise a various breeds of brands such as specialized ones and those that are highly customized to customer demands, thus increasing competition.

Further, along with changing tastes, customer shopping patterns and buying behavior have undergone a tremendous transformation. Traditionally, luxury shoppers heavily relied on physical retail to fulfill their desire for luxury goods. But now, multiple channels have come into the game and customers willingly switch between channels to get what they want. Seamless demand fulfillment across channels necessitates the reduction of various issues such as decrease in quality or other losses that are caused during the course of the supply chain. While older shoppers are still playing a significant role in the luxury market spends, millennials and Gen Zs are predicted to account for the larger growth in the coming years. Moreover, their new spending habits which are faster, more frequent, brand-conscious and trend-driven while being highly influenced by digital platforms.

All these are the modern day challenges that luxury retail businesses, especially the ones still depending heavily on the heritage and traditional processes are facing and there is one way out. They need to transform their retail businesses to omni-channel and employ the right omni-channel retail software to exceed their customer expectations and fulfill their business goals.

How can retail leverage the benefits of blockchain

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Blockchain is undoubtedly proving to be a disruption in the way financial transactions are carried out as these non-regulated distributed ledgers are ensuring secure and non-corrupt digital economic transactions using encryption. By extending the potential of blockchains to deliver low-cost, secure sharing of information and value in to the retail sector, there are certain important aspects of retail where blockchain technology can be used. Some of these applications are:

Payments: Blockchain based payments can streamline financial transactions in multiple ways. They allow using a new form of digital currency, adding an additional option for payments. Further, due to the nature of the blockchain technology, it is very difficult to alter entries or create fraudulent entries by the participants. Transactions done on blockchain will ensure transparency and reduce the need of additional validation. By eliminating the need for third party intermediaries and additional costs for exchanging assets during transactions, blockchains can potentially prove to be cost-effective by greatly reducing the transaction fees.

Supply chain: Blockchain based transactions can make trading potentially indisputable and also ensure integrity of information shared amongst parties. It can substantially improve visibility of information related to a product such as its location and status, ensuring better optimization of inventory level by retailers or distributors. Moreover, improved visibility of product information till the last mile will mitigate risks due to counterfeiting as the end consumers are able to validate the product characteristics (e.g. material, component specifications, manufacturing date, price, etc.).

Contracts: Blockchain technology can redefine contract instruments with the help of smart contracts. Smart contracts use computer code to create terms of the agreement and because blockchain operates on a public level distributed among the participants in the system, the smart contracts would be easy to see and monitor. Additionally, blockchain could reduce the need for third parties such as brokers and purchasing agents and thus costs associated with them by finding the best price and terms for products as per the related information available.

CRM: Blockchain can go much beyond just enabling trade processes and handling financial transactions. As such, blockchain technology and logic could disrupt traditional loyalty programs. Firstly, the CRM database containing information related to customers can be incorruptible and indisputable due to blockchain technology. Also, with the help of blockchain, loyalty points can be used as payment currency globally.

CEM: Given blockchain benefits such as trackability of information and proof of authenticity mechanisms, customers can be assured of authenticity of products right from their origin. Thus the customer can trust not only the product, but also the retail brand as a whole. Moreover, enabling frictionless and secure payments could further enrich the customers’ purchasing experience. All this will greatly contribute to better customer experience management.