05/02/24 Connectivity

Revitalising retail technology

To say the Covid 19 pandemic was disruptive to the retail industry is an understatement. For the majority of consumers, the pandemic single-handedly changed the way we shopped, forcing us to buy our goods online rather than through the usual means of purchasing in-store. This has placed great pressures on today’s retail technology.

To avoid a catastrophic decline in sales and meet the challenges of this new environment, the retail industry was forced to act, adopting a multitude of innovative technologies to support the growth in online trading. Whilst some consumers have since returned to their old ‘in-store’ habits, the majority of us are still accessing some or all of our goods and services online, resulting in a continuing level of investment to support this area of growth.

The seismic shift in the evolution of retail technology has dictated how owners and operators now approach the shopping experiences they offer to their customers. The mass movement to online and smart shopping solutions has given rise to a number of emerging trends, with retailers compelled to offer omnichannel strategies that are capable of combining the best of both online and offline experiences.

Shoppers today have a greater level of expectation than in the post-pandemic years, requiring personalised retail experiences available across multiple channels and devices. According to TimeTrade, 87% of retailers say creating a seamless shopping customer experience across all channels is the single most important element of their company’s omnichannel strategy. Retail brands are now required to ‘meet us where we are’ whilst we browse their sites, providing real- time data on the products we are looking at or the information we need.

Emerging technologies include those such as asset tracking, which enables retailers to follow goods throughout the supply chain. This allows for increased visibility and control of the manufacturing, shipping and transportation of assets. Whilst complex, the technology behind this procedure is far more accurate than any manual solution and saves hours in employee resources.

The mass adoption of electronic shelf labelling has also brought considerable efficiency gains. Instant updates to pricing information has ensured retail staff need far less contact with inventory whilst also offering shoppers detailed merchandise information. This dual strategy allows in-store customers to access the same product details as those that are browsing online, allowing retailers to co-ordinate their product offering across multiple channels.

Protecting both business and consumer data throughout each aspect of the omnichannel experience is also a pre-requisite for all retailers. The rise in use of IoT devices and their associated applications has increased the risk and complexity of cyber-attacks. Stringent security measures must be in place to not only secure hardware and software applications but also to protect online/in-store transactions and ensure compliance with new, robust data protection regulations.

The quest for seamless online and offline experiences that customers now demand, starts with the very basics of network infrastructure. Smart retail technology links all aspects of the supply chain; incorporating procurement, manufacturing, logistics, marketing, sales and distribution, yet it is the network infrastructure that supports this wireless technology and the plethora of IoT devices that are attached to it.

A robust network design ensures you have the connectivity, security and reliability needed at all times, not just for the flow of internal communications but for all customer touch points too. Omnichannel technology, whilst offering infinite advantages, must work together seamlessly if it is to offer a superior shopping experience.

Ultimately, it is the retailers who get this right that will win. Today’s shoppers are more demanding than ever before and if retailers fail to offer the unified service their customers want they will simply go elsewhere.

TPS provide retail technology and the infrastructure services that fully support an omnichannel experience. Our designs ensure you have the connectivity, security and reliability you need at all times, not just for the flow of internal communications but for all customer touchpoints too.

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