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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
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