It’s Do or Die for retail.

Search, click, and receive. I’ve just ordered my latest batch of wardrobe updates, all from the very comfort of my own home. And by the comfort of my own home I mean lying in my bed. I didn’t even have to break a sweat – well only when my internet connection was playing up, then it got a bit stressful – but what I’m trying to get at is the world wide web is as important to us as our kettle, bath or bed! Something that over the past 15 years has become an integral part of lives.

The internet nowadays is a must – I won’t even go into the IoT! Without it, well frankly, we’re just not connected to life. Aiding this connection is the use of technology, such as laptops, iPads, iPhones and smart TVs. It’s no wonder companies – and even more so the retail industry – is having to change rapidly and evolve with us the consumer’s modern way of living.

What got me thinking about this was the recent news of the Brexit, with the economy being at a time of uncertainty. Now is not the time for retailers to start cutting costs and ignoring what technology can do for them but to embrace it. Without having an adoption of technology in there coming years’ strategy would be a mistake.  Take ‘mobile first’ comms for example, more and more consumers want to find a company with a click of a button – on the internet. And more and more consumers are making decisions based on a company’s website. Whether its retail or another industry, companies need to be rapid in responding to the ever-demanding consumer. 88% of consumers who search for a type of local business on a mobile device call or go to that business within 24 hours. (Nectafy, 2014)

The retail industries first reaction to Brexit is likely to be to cut cost, which would be payroll. This will be hard seeing as it’s been tough for retail so far this year with an unexpected mild winter and a cold and wet summer, which leads to larger amounts of sale stock and therefore a loss of margin. Retailers are always looking at ways to cut costs – but at what cost? Theirs, or the customers’ experience? Retail needs something it can rely on, and that is technology. With technology moving at such a fast pace, retailers can choose from an array of solutions and software to streamline their operations at store level and in the warehouse, to speed up order fulfilment and dispatch processes. As technology changes continuously, it remains flexible – so you can update when needed – but as new solutions arise, retail can remain as cost efficient as possible.

The next level of revolutionary technology available to retail and one that will change the way we shop is facial recognition. A company that’s already developed this technology is Customer Clever, this technology has endless possibilities such as, loyalty customers would receive push notifications when entering a store of the latest deals, offers and online shopping basket reminders. This would enable all retailers to maximise conversion rates and offer real time deals that could enhance not only the customer experience but drastically maximise profit. Retailers need to remain focused, don’t start cutting payroll and staff, leaving less staff to do more tasks and taking them away from the customers’ needs. They need to embrace technology and streamline processes such as customer orders, deliveries and back office systems. Following this, the technology that has been adopted – facial recognition or otherwise – they need to allow managers and their teams to focus on customer service and embrace a new era; let technology do the leg work, give the consumer what it wants, and allow stores to be as ‘real time’ as possible.

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Andrea (Cooper) Gibson - Head of Business Development