The merging of physical and digital has made retail customers more demanding than ever.
What do customers want? They want everything … and they want it now.
They want the excitement only physical retail can deliver. As Neiman Marcus CEO Geoffroy van Raemdonck told Forbes about its new store at Manhattan’s Hudson Yards, it’s not about "what I’m going to buy" but "what I am going to experience."
Consumers demand all the convenience, relevance and customer intimacy of shopping online, and expect you to know who they are and what they want.
To deliver on both, retail mobility is a must.
What Are the Top Retail Mobility Trends for 2020?
- Digital Displays and Facial Recognition: Displays are getting smarter and more interactive. Advanced artificial intelligence and facial recognition technology identify customers instantly, and let store associates deploy mobile apps that link them to a profile.
- The Internet of (Retail) Things: IoT integrations impact everything, including personalized recommendations, optimized RFID tags and sensors, as well as insights into product usage, inventory and where buyers should focus next.
- The rise of robots: Robotics is core to Amazon.com's strategy; the company uses more than 200,000 of them internationally. Target, Walmart and Lowe’s are actively integrating robotics into their supply chain strategies. The future may see continuous mobile data flow to and from the factory floor to wireless devices on the selling floor.
- Privacy: Emerging privacy legislation can leave retailers uneasy. If they move too tentatively, they risk being left behind. If they move too aggressively, they risk making the wrong investments.
Retail Mobility, and 5 Steps to Move With Confidence
While it’s normal to get caught up in the rush to embrace exciting new capabilities, the smartest retailers are taking a disciplined, planned approach. The goal? To maximize capability without sacrificing flexibility.
Here are five steps to making the right plans:
- Partner, plan, and pilot. Find an experienced partner that knows what’s available, what works, how to plan, and how to prove success. Look for a partner that knows retail, but also has experience in logistics and supply chain. Planning is faster than rushing.
- Embrace the “wow,” but optimize for agility. Push for the most exciting customer experience, but work to avoid proprietary technologies that may make it hard to make changes later. Build with change in mind; it’s inevitable.
- Don’t forget privacy. You’ll have a growing set of endpoints to manage. Plan ahead to minimize or eliminate security threats.
- Simplify. Many companies find they can significantly simplify app development and deployment. Get it right, and you’ll find it’s a useful productivity boost for your IT department, too.
- Get tough. Whether your store’s floor is poured concrete or Carrara marble, handheld devices will inevitably be dropped there. Look for ruggedized devices that fit your store’s aesthetic.
The smartest retailers are taking a balanced approach that lets them race ahead, but with confidence they have the right plan to shrink risk and maximize success.
Ryan Webber is vice president of enterprise mobility at SOTI, a proven leader at creating innovative solutions that reduce the cost and complexity of business-critical mobility and the IoT.
Ryan Webber is Vice President of Enterprise Mobility at SOTI, a proven leader at creating innovative solutions that reduce the cost and complexity of business-critical mobility and the IoT.
At SOTI, Webber oversees global mobility strategies for Fortune 100 companies looking to harness the power of mobility to transform their operations. Ryan leverages his unique expertise with more than 15 years of experience working in the mobile space, to help SOTI customers across a variety of sectors including retail, healthcare and field services. Prior to joining SOTI, Ryan held different roles at KORE Telematics and TELUS Business Solutions. Ryan holds a B.A. from McMaster University (Canada) and a MA from Griffith University (Australia).