Will Connected Retail Trigger the Industry’s Digital Revolution?

Will Connected Retail Trigger the Industry’s Digital Revolution?

For customers, a connected retail experience can mean shorter queues, a better selection of products, the ability to purchase out of stock items and have it delivered to their doors, and a quicker checkout from the store in terms of payment and visibility.

by Hymie Marnewick Imagine being able to monitor all business operations, equipment and assets end-to-end from a single dashboard or even being abl

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by Hymie Marnewick

Imagine being able to monitor all business operations, equipment and assets end-to-end from a single dashboard or even being able to intelligently analyse surveillance data in real-time. What if your customers could request assistance by pushing buttons scattered throughout your store or have their checkout total calculated as they place items into their shopping baskets?

This is the world brought to you by connected retail.

While many retailers know that to survive the disruption brought about by the digital era they need a digital transformation, so few retailers have actually embraced it. The reason for this is not that retailers are resistant to change or even because of the costs involved in implementing such significant change, but rather I believe it’s because some retailers don’t really have a clear view of what digital transformation would actually look like  and how to make it work.

However, to find the answer to what a fully digitised retail sector could look like, one need only look within the space of connected retail.

What is connected retail?

Connected retail uses technology to create a seamless ecosystem through the combination of an optimised, personalised and immersive in-store and digital customer experience.

This is accomplished by installing a mixture of technologies such as cameras, sensors, web interfaces, powerful monitoring software, and mobile applications into a business value chain that all talk to one another and are reliant on secure connectivity and payment solutions.

With connected retail, a retailer could integrate all the tools they need to enable such features as point of sale solutions that cater for all payment options, have a view of and manage inventory, drive promotions through personalised proximity marketing and set up a cashless payout system.

All of this is performed on a single, secure network that is also able to collect, collate and consolidate information that can provide a plethora of insights for improved decision making.

The benefits

Consumer loyalty is evaporating, and customers are demanding convenience and a personalised service from retailers, and a connected retail space can help you to deliver on all these demands.

For customers, a connected retail experience can mean shorter queues, a better selection of products, the ability to purchase out of stock items and have it delivered to their doors, and a quicker checkout from the store in terms of payment and visibility. It can also be used to place customer experience at the heart of a business.

Employing connected retail can also mean big returns. Not only does it allow for the optimisation and streamlining of the supply chain, driving up efficiencies and profitability, but it can also mitigate and manage any risk, reduce costs, and increase buyer frequency, spend and conversion. Connected retail has the ability to put control of your business back into your hands.

In essence, it helps both the retailer and the consumer get the most out of digital.

How to make connected retail work for you

So how do you turn stores into a connected retail space?

Instead of hunting for all the pieces you need  from several different suppliers yourself, which can mean time and money and self-management of systems, you could look to a single service provider who would get to know your business, its processes and its needs and aggregate a specifically tailored ecosystem into your business that can deliver these benefits.

Making use of a single partner that can help you to orchestrate this vision of true connected convenience can assist in accelerating business success, but also shape retail transformation and enhance the customer experience.

While the possibilities that can be achieved by connected retail might seem futuristic and out of reach, all of these opportunities can actually be realised right now with the technology of today.

There have already been showcases of connected retail in action in South Africa where customers were able to sample its advantages, and the intensely competitive landscape of the retail industry means your competitors could right now be working to integrate these technologies.

Connected retail has the capability to completely shift the way the industry does business, makes decisions, and interacts and engages with customers.

Don’t get left behind. All you need to do is take the leap, join the digital revolution and watch the returns roll in.

  • Hymie Marnewick is Managing Director of XLink Communications

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