The emergence of advanced technology has forever changed the retail landscape. Digital best practices, once the secret sauce of e-commerce companies looking to woo point-and-click shoppers, have evolved into powerful data-driven solutions being leveraged by high-value brands and retailers looking to add real value to customers shopping in their brick and mortar spaces.
Unlike consumer practice goods and other fast-moving products, these high-value markets, whether smartphones or tablets, audio and video components, home appliances, specialty products and services, or communications providers, face unique challenges. While significant investments and innovations for supermarkets and mass merchandising retailers continue to be introduced, the complexity of assisted selling solutions for high-value products extends well beyond product availability and inventory.
Unlike impulse shoppers, these consumers want to experience products and engage with experts at the point of sale who can answer their questions and guide them through the buying process. At the same time, high-value brands and retailers must contend with increasingly complex products and the growing challenge of finding and retaining knowledgeable and engaged professionals both in store and in the field. Then there are those sophisticated (and often temperamental) interactive point-of-sale displays that must be kept working properly to be effective.
These are just a few of the critical areas today’s high-value brands and retailers must address. Which is why many find themselves at a tipping point. The question isn’t, “should we be applying new technologies?” That’s a given. Rather, the question is, “how do we make sure we’re using the right technologies in the right ways, with the right support needed to maximize outcomes and ROI?”
The Sobering Truth About Tech
There’s a catch to using advanced technology, especially in brick and mortar retail operations. If it’s not packaged and implemented in precisely the right way, technology often winds up being a dud. Without proper guidance and focused expertise, applying automation and digital data technology to brick and mortar retail can add up to a whole lot of misdirected effort, misplaced energy, and worst of all, misspent capital.
In fact, according to a recent study by McKinsey Digital that called on more than 1,700 executives, the average transformation that integrates advanced technology stands a 45% chance of delivering less than promised. What’s more, the off chance a program might exceed expectations is a dismal one in ten.
These aren’t exactly glowing odds, and yet, there really is no plan B for high-value brands and retailers who want to win going forward. Implementing new technologies isn’t an option. It’s a necessity. So, how do you reinvent yourself and rethink your brand experience and sales strategies for the digital age in ways that secure a successful transition? Where do you find the best practices that will give you the greatest opportunity to see measurable ROI? How do you generate added value for customers, guiding them on an engaging, enjoyable and ultimately sales-generating shopping journeys? Step one is setting some realistic goals and finding the right partner to help you reach them.
Mapping Out Your Digital Future And Making The Most Of It.
Okay, we’ve established that brick and mortar retail is in the midst of a tech revolution. Now, let’s look at what that means for high-value brands and retailers in terms of operational and revenue strategies. Essentially, what any good program seeks to achieve is new and better access to data and the critical insights it can generate.
The true power of retail technology is understanding your business with a depth, agility and level of detail that was previously impossible. So what should you be looking for in a tech solution? The following is a good start:
Clear Direction and Measurable Priorities
Don’t go into this without knowing what you want to get out of it. The first step to embarking on a digital transformation for your retail business is to define clear goals and set reasonable expectations for success. According to the same survey conducted by McKinsey Digital and cited earlier in this article, businesses that had well-defined digital transformation strategies were 1.7 times more likely to exceed their expectations.
Diverse Data Sets
One of the most critical pieces to any intelligent retail solution is smart data capture. This starts with capturing in-store and field activities using smart electronic forms, but includes additional data that reveals deeper insights into the in-store purchase journey. With margins always tightening, retailers must find more intelligent and cost-conscious approaches to capturing the quality and effectiveness of in-store and field employees, as well as interactions with brands, contractors and third-party labor providers (3PLs).Similar to challenges that exist for capturing in-store merchandising and pricing conditions, the right technology is key because throwing more people at the problem is just too expensive, inefficient and unreliable.
Real-Time Data Insights
Yes, it is important to draw from different data sources. But it’s just as important to make sure you’re capturing the right data and generating the right insights. Simply capturing lots of data is a waste of time. The key is capturing relevant data that can be analyzed and distilled in the right way, and given to the right people. Finally, this data should generate insights that drive escalations and notifications before issues become crises. It should drive high-priority tasks and schedules for key personnel. Ultimately, additional insights should highlight what’s working, what’s not, and what to do about it.
Flexible and Agile
A strong technology program should help companies become more responsive and more proactive. Whether it’s new competitive pressures, new product launches, or new in-store experiences, digital enablement technologies should empower retailers to scale, grow and adapt based on solid data and informed decisions.
Buy-In At Every Level
Technology isn’t just a powerful advantage, it’s an empowering advantage. According to McKinsey Digital’s study, when everyone in an organization buys into a digital solution with clear roles and responsibilities, the chance of that solution succeeding are elevated.Technology makes it easier for good people to be great at their jobs. When people are given clear tasks, are abler to track their progress, and are held accountable for outcomes, it provides a well-defined roadmap for performance and success – whether that’s in a corner office, out in the field, or engaging with customers.
High-Touch Support and Service: There Is No Substitute.
If you run a high-value brand or retail operation, you already understand the importance of high-touch service because that’s exactly what your customers demand. It’s also what you should insist upon from your retail execution solution partner.
Leveraging new technologies drives you toward the grand prizes of the Retail 4.0 age – streamlined operations, more effective employees, happier customers, increased sales conversions, and maxed-out revenue. To get there requires you to rethink and reinvent every aspect of your business, and then keep on adapting as things progress and change.
To those ends, it’s vital to partner with a company that knows how to integrate and enable the right technology, but also owns a first-hand understanding of how the brick and mortar retail environment works and the challenges you face.
There’s no substitute for a knowledgeable technology partner that understands your business, and will be there with best practices that go beyond delivering reliable insights, but actually show you how to apply them to improve the critical areas of your retail operation.
If you have questions about intelligent data capture and advanced retail technologies, or are interested in exploring how MobileInsight® can help with your digital transformation and Retail 4.0 initiatives, visit MobileInsight.com.
Mobile Insight® is the only retail management solution designed to meet the brick and mortar sales challenges of high-value brands and retailers. Unlike hardware and software providers that focus on fast-moving goods, the Mobile Insight® platform delivers assisted sales solutions for more complex, interactive and customer-centric environments. Combining data from in-store systems, 3PLs, employee and partner activity, Mobile Insight® enables informed, smarter decisions that drive sales and operations excellence. For more information, visit www.mobileinsight.com.
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