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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
Mobile is retail’s next frontier, but companies don’t have to feel like they’re heading into uncharted territory. The National Retail Federation announced a resource that will help companies with research in mobile retailing. Featured on RetailingToday.com, the Integrated Mobile Initiative helps retailers stay ahead of the technology learning curve by taking a comprehensive look into mobile retailing.
A major department store is pursuing retail’s “holy grail”: to offer same-day delivery for online orders. Featured on MerchandisingMatters.com, the retailer’s new order-fulfillment system allows stores to ship items anywhere. Eventually, the retailer could offer same-day delivery, an attractive feature of major online-only retailers in some cities.
The hottest July in recent years was also remarkable for its store sales. Summer shoppers spent more than expected, a sign that could mean a strong back-to-school shopping season. In an article on Businessweek.com, a report revealed that clothing sales drove purchasing in July. Retail consumer sales account for a huge percentage of the national economy. If retail goes up, everything improves.
Stepping inside a store today is like taking a peek into the future: Retailers are using heat cameras, WiFi and radio frequency identification tags to track customers’ in-store behavior and trends, according to a recent Women’s Wear Daily article. While data mining applications have been around for a long time, brick-and-mortar stores are starting to use tracking technology to collect even more data.
The corner boutique is now in everyone’s neighborhood thanks to the Web. Boutiques are thriving in the digital frontier, according to a recent New York Times article. These stores are able to reach more shoppers online and still manage its digital operations with personalized flair. A Web presence is a great way boutiques can attract new customers and maintain relationships.
To grab the attention of the 21st century customer, stores need a seamless integration of their online and brick-and-mortar store channels. That’s how one United Kingdom retailer was able to rake in strong sales despite a down economy. This is what we call the omnichannel in the U.S. Taking a look at the U.K. store’s sales growth, it’s clear that this strategy works.
After years of holding back, parents are ready to go shopping. A survey cited in the Portland Press Herald predicts back-to-school spending will increase this year. Parents are expected to spend $688.62 in back-to-school shopping, a forecast up from last year’s average, $603.63. To grab the attention of budget-minded consumers, retailers are getting creative with incentives and promotions.
With the increasing cost of retail space, making the most of your space — wherever it is — is so important. A recent article on Entrepreneur.com profiles a small Chicago business that started out selling cupcakes from a van before getting a permanent storefront. Retailers in a similar situation could use mobility to their advantage, too. This business model — to go to the customer — seems to work.
Tis the season for school bells and cash registers to be ringing. Consumers will hit the shops in force during the back-to-school season, a National Retail Federation survey found. The survey asked 8,509 consumers about their back-to-school shopping plans. One of the things retailers can expect: people are shopping earlier, and online shoppers will spend the most of all consumers.
A national retailer is transforming the customer shopping experience with RFID technology. The century-old department store plans to eliminate traditional register stations and create anytime, anywhere checkout over the next two years, according to an article on Retail Info System News’ website. It’s a new idea. RFID is very expensive and retailers typically only use it on their high-ticket items.
In the digital age, even back-to-school shopping has taken a leap forward. Consumer electronics — such as laptops, smartphones and tablet computers — are now on 40 percent of back-to-school shopping lists, according to a recent survey cited on the Press-Enterprise newspaper’s website. The survey shows why retailers must tailor marketing campaigns to the constantly connected consumer.