Retailers must join the dots if they want to survive

To meet the demands of tomorrow’s customers, retailers urgently need to join up customer experience, convenience and operational excellence strategies. Steve Howells, director at Tyco, discusses how to integrate retail technology solutions in order to future-proof retail businesses.

Stephen Howells, Director for Retail, Tyco UK&I

The recent influx and development of technology has forced the retail industry to rapidly evolve to meet the demands of the 21st century customer.

While the need for a positive and valuable customer experience has largely remained the same, expectations around convenience have changed dramatically. The concept of convenience back in the 1990s consisted of simple questions like: ”Does my shop of choice have a car park?“ Now, retailers need to be able to cater for an abundance of tech-savvy consumers who demand a personalised shopping experience, with quick and flexible delivery options, relevant product offerings and discounts and availability of products.

As such, the challenge for retailers today is getting the balance right between experience and convenience from end to end – from the point of order, to the point at which the customer receives the goods, all the way through the post-sales relationship. What we are seeing now is an accelerated evolution due to rapid accelerated development in technology. But while technology offers the tools for great insight, each interaction on its own will not be able to provide the insight needed to elevate a retailer’s strategy. Retailers are very good at embracing new technology, but they are failing to apply it in a way that enables them to gain real insight and value-add information that would put them at the forefront of innovation in this space.

It is critical for retailers to have an integrated strategy that joins up the dots, connecting the customer journey to the needs and wants of the individual consumer. Operationally, retailers need to look at how they can integrate technology systems without overhauling existing infrastructure, and use it in a way that drives business value and helps move the business forward.

Today’s retailers require an integrated technology solution across three key areas to ensure they have a joined-up strategy and future-proof business model. These are customer experience, customer convenience and operations:

  • Customer experience – ensures that retailers have the right interactions, the right product(s) available in the right place at the right time and are delivering the entire experience in an innovative way that treats the customer as an individual. An example of this could be in-store interactive mannequins and applications that recognise and understand you, your shopping habits and browsing and purchasing history.
  • Customer convenience – to offer easy purchase options including delivery on demand – when and where the consumer wants it. Customers have high expectations on convenience and require quick, user-friendly check-out options, such as remote payment systems and in-store associates armed with iPads, and flexible delivery, such as click-and-collect that suits them.
  • Operations – provides retailers with actionable knowledge that allows them to gather and analyse data across all potential customer touchpoints. In turn, this enables them to drive benefits to the customer through personalised emails and discounts, and use CCTV video data to understand behaviour during the sales process.

In order to succeed, retailers need to be able to maximise the opportunity with consumers. By using integrated solutions to offer a truly personalised, convenient shopping experience across every channel – from the warehouse through to post-sales – retailers can ensure they are embracing the future of the industry and providing consumers with a superior experience.

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