Three Challenges to Rumors, Reports and Assumptions About the Retail Industry
Many business headlines would have you believe that retail is on the way out. Skeptics describe retail as we know it as a dying business, going the way of the horse and buggy. However, based on an invigorating display of technology and innovation at the 2016 National Retail Federation "Big Show" held in New York in January, rest assured many of these rumors are simply untrue. Here are three circulating myths about retail, debunked.
Myth #1 – Retail is dying
Talk of the "extinction" of brick-and-mortar stores abounds. Growing concerns over reduced foot traffic and references to "retail's crisis," indicate that retail is dying. While retail is in many ways experiencing a transformation, it is in no way dying. In some ways, it is simply undergoing a massive transformation, offering a completely new experience through technology, but not exclusive of the in-store visit.
While the hard push for RFID tagging on every item began more than a decade ago and never really came to fruition, recent advances in the Internet of Things (IoT), have guaranteed that everything will be tagged, tracked, monitored and notified, advancing supply chain and inventory management in ways that increase both efficiency and precision. Size 6 of a particular dress may be flying off the shelves at store #246. When the next-to-last item in that size has been scanned at the POS, instantly, a notice will be sent to the warehouse that more size 6 dresses are needed in store #246.
The instantaneous and proactive exchange of information enables the retailer to streamline processes and maintain just the right inventory in-store, making it more relevant to shoppers. The retail shopping experience may be transformed, but it is far from dead.
Myth #2 – Online will eliminate brick and mortar
Most people have heard of omni-channel retailing, but it's not simply a shift from in-store to online purchases. Omni-channel is just what it says: the use of multiple different channels to create a truly multi-faceted shopping experience.
Savvy retailers are leveraging technology to serve up the right experience and the right inventory in the right location - and that includes brick and mortar stores. Demonstrated at the NRF Big Show, Cisco's Meraki Platform is delivering the power of omni-channel retailing by giving consumers a multi-faceted shopping experience via their mobile device, online, and in the store. Retailers who deploy Meraki have the capacity to create detailed reports on mobile devices, web traffic, and popular smartphone applications, such as price comparison apps while tracking users' locations in large retail environments, throttling bandwidth for high-bandwidth apps, and even blocking access to competitors' offers. Meraki integrates with retail loyalty programs and CRM systems. That means that shoppers can sign on for "shopping events" and receive loyalty rewards, share promotions with friends, and even alert store staff of their presence. The result is a whole new shopping experience, but one that drives revenue from in-store visits.
Myth #3 – Retail is a technology laggard
There are plentiful complaints that retail is a laggard when it comes to technology adoption. As evidenced at the NRF Big Show, the retail industry is actually a hotbed of innovation.
Retail is cracking the code on how to access the analytics they need to paint a picture of customer behaviors, which in turn directs everything from staffing and store layout to merchandise selection and investments in in-store technologies. Retailers are increasingly kings of collecting and leveraging analytics to understand individual customers, their individual shopping patterns, preferences and interests. They use this information to serve up the right shopping experience, promotions, and items to drive conversion and increase share-of-wallet.
In-store analytics provider, Nomi, cleverly measures, analyzes and optimizes a store's marketing, loyalty, labor and operations by using data from multiple store sensors. For example, Nomi's analytic software delivers real-time notifications, alerting store managers that queue lines are building and that more registers need to be opened immediately. The result reduces abandoned shopping carts and customer frustration that could lead shoppers to go elsewhere. On the merchandising and marketing side, information about browse times and locations can trigger special personalized offers directly to the customer's phone, encouraging instant or spontaneous purchases. All of this insight translates to improved customer service, higher average sale, increased customer loyalty and ultimately, more revenue, bringing the retail industry closer to tying analytics directly to improved profitability more successfully than nearly any other industry.
These are just a few of the many exciting technologies and advances showcased at the NRF Big Show. Now more than ever, retail has an abundance of solutions available to help them improve customer service, optimize efficiency, and increase conversion rates.
To keep the myths about your business at bay, be sure you are leveraging technology to keep your retail operation current. Need some advice or interested in exploring some cutting-edge options? Contact Telaid and we'll share with you best practices from thousands of deployments of dozens of retail technologies.
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