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For stores today, omni-channel retailing is no longer a lofty goal. Emerging technology and mainstream mobile devices are making the seamless integration between online and physical stores not only a reality, but a requirement.
A recent article on The Guardian website highlights this trend. Technologies like radio-frequency identification (RFID) and near field communication (NFC), along with the rising use of smartphones and tablets, is making omni-channel retailing more achievable and important than ever before.
And yet many retailers still aren’t ready. They don’t have the right infrastructure. In fact, many still have mainframes. How can you take advantage of these new technologies with an aging architecture? It’s all about the flow of information. It’s one thing to have all of this data, but what are you going to do with it?
Retailers need a flexible, extensible environment to leverage these advances in technology. The good news is that a lot of these technologies are cheaper than they once were. Sure, retailers might have to bite the bullet and throw out their old infrastructure, but it will be worthwhile in the long run.
The article takes a look at how other retailers are moving ahead. For example, one national U.S. retail chain plans to have RFID in all of its locations this year. Customers will be able to purchase items at self-serve stations and through their mobile devices, cutting costs for checkout transactions.
It’s just one example of how retailers are making changes to “enhance the retail formula.” Retailers must provide convenient ways for customers get store information and share their shopping experience. It’s a lot like “the good parts of e-commerce, with all the fun and tactile richness of real life thrown in,” the article notes.
If omni-channel retailing is your goal, The Guardian article recommends three ways to make it happen.
- Spread digital operations across the organization: Too often, the digital operations work in “silos.” This prevents retail or other departments from taking full advantage of omni-channel retailing opportunities.
- Invest in technology: Some retailers have held off on implementing more digital capabilities due to high implementation costs. But the costs are dropping rapidly.
- Explore opportunities today: Keeping up and preparing for digital developments requires a long-term plan. Start planning today. Retailers should explore what they can do now to connect with their customers via multiple channels.
Source: The Guardian, February 2013
RECENT RETAIL MANAGEMENT NEWS
Technology is constantly shaking up how retailers connect with consumers. Now the term “omnichannel” is emerging as the latest buzzword to describe how shoppers move seamlessly between the store, website and mobile device. However, retailers can’t lose focus of what matters most, and that’s executing through brand to sell products at the right price and right time.
The soaring shares of the nation’s two big home-improvement retailers are another sign that the economy is turning around. Pent-up demand for appliances and other big-ticket purchases plus an improving housing market have spurred the financial turnaround for the two retailers. These are some of the first indications that people are spending money again.
Retailers are set to score a big victory with the Super Bowl. A record 173 million people are expected to tune in to see the New England Patriots and New York Giants battle in the big game Feb. 5. They’ll do more than just watch, of course. People will buy jerseys, hats, decorations and food for the big game, with the average person expected to spend $63.87 on the Super Bowl this year.
Holiday sales were up 4.1 percent, beating expectations and providing more positive news for the economy. Combined sales of $471.5 billion in November and December beat the National Retail Federation’s forecast of 3.8 percent growth. The growth is a result of pent-up demand and confidence in the economy. That’s good news for retailers, who will be able to hire more people and open more stores.
The National Retail Federation is stepping up its lobbying role in an effort to pass legislation that would create more industry jobs. Retailers employ 42 million workers, or one out of every four U.S. jobholders. The NRF’s political agenda includes securing trade agreements with emerging nations, lowering corporate taxes and passing legislation to collect sales tax from Internet retailers.
Consumers want more — not less — communication from retailers. According to a survey from the IBM Institute for Business Value, 76 percent of respondents said retailers didn’t communicate enough with them. Retailers must be careful not to bombard customers with messages, however. Email messages should be sent weekly, not daily, and include a coupon or offer.
Former President Bill Clinton says there’s cause for the retail industry to be optimistic. The future is bright, he predicts, if countries come together to fix today’s problems. For retail, the future will revolve around global collaboration, with supply chain partners needing to work together to get inventory to customers in a cost-effective manner.
Microsoft announced today it will release an updated ERP system geared to help retailers “deliver uniquely consistent, convenient and personalized experiences for shoppers.” Accenture, in close collaboration with global Microsoft specialists Avanade, is developing and delivering solutions built on Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 for Retail, which will be available in more than 25 countries starting Feb. 1.
China could top the United States as the world’s top e-commerce market by 2015, according to a study by Boston Consulting Group. Research shows that China’s online shopping market is on target to reach $315 billion within four years. The projected growth is the result of growing household incomes and more familiarity with e-commerce in a country with an underdeveloped retail infrastructure.
Shoppers in today’s post-recession marketplace are on a mission and that’s bad for business. They research deals, head to stores, find what they need and get out. To squeeze more money out of these “mission shoppers,” some retailers are tweaking the layout of their stores and integrating mobile technology into sales to encourage more browsing and, hopefully, impulse buying.
Even in tough economic times people are willing to splurge a bit on fashion. While most consumers can’t afford $10,000 for a designer dress, they’ll still gladly spend money to look good. Why? Because people feel better when they look good. People don’t necessarily need to max out their credit card to dress elegantly. Some designers are controlling costs by using less expensive fabrics and materials.