Charles Barratt, Principal Business Solutions Architect, EMEA EUC Strategic Accounts
From virtual reality dressing rooms and drone deliveries, to iPads in store and targeted mobile advertising, the retail sector is arguably at the forefront of technological innovation. With more consumers demanding ‘personalised moments’ while shopping, organisations are using data driven information to merge the physical with the digital and create tailored consumer experiences that drives brand loyalty and increased basket spend.
But although Europeans online expenditure reached €509.9 billion in 2016, larger businesses are still struggling to create consistent omnichannel experiences. This gap is being exploited by more agile digital start-ups who are utilising Machine Learning and cognitive computing in a new phase of commerce known as ‘e-Commerce 3.0’.
But behind every great consumer experience is a hard-working retail process, which is increasingly being underpinned by technology . With a digital workspace platform, where employees have simple, secure and seamless access to all business resources, retailers can focus on making their employees more mobile, boosting their productivity and creating new apps and services that deliver the experience customers are looking for.
Which technologies will have the biggest impact for retailers
Bricks and mortar retailers must meet the demands of consumers and make in-store purchasing as convenient as possible if they are to compete in a crowded market. This doesn’t just apply to front of house applications but also back end processes for employees:
- m-Commerce – the ability of retailers to make transactions on wireless devices from anywhere in the store – is an example of allowing employees to process payments faster as well as act as Brand Ambassadors when helping customers with their purchasing decisions. For example, the retailer Next has given staff the ability to access critical back-office content and resources from anywhere using iPads to access real time updates on stock numbers and availability of items.
- Digital displays in store offer customers instant and accessible information about products or promotions on sale at that time. This can be very simple to customise for retailers, resulting in customers being kept informed in real-time and closer to their decision point of purchase. Managed content from a Unified Endpoint Management Stack is critical to achieving this.
- While still in its infancy, augmented reality (AR) has the potential to transform the way in which someone shops in store. By blurring the lines between online and in-store shopping consumers can virtually try items on from the comfort of their homes, eliminating any hesitation they have in their purchase. Larger purchases like kitchens and bathrooms are also likely to be transformed by AR. Consumers will be able to design different rooms of their house, whilst in store, speeding up the decision to buy process and driving more revenue to the retailer.
- In the DIY sector, 3D printing is being offered by plumbers and electricians to order parts on demand and get them printed in store.
The future of retail
To create personalised moments for consumers, retailers must rethink their approach to digital application delivery. By empowering their employees, they will drive a better journey for customers. Whether it’s making small incremental changes or completely revisiting the operating model, a user-centric experience needs to sit at the heart of the offering.
Next, one of the UK’s largest clothing chains told investors earlier this year that stores were “an important part of our online service to the increasing number of customers who collect and return their orders through our stores”.
Retailers must shift their focus towards consumer outcomes and realise the opportunities that new tech platforms such as the Digital Workspace, must offer.