Adding an edge to in-store retail
Bricks and mortar retail is under pressure from shifting consumer habits and the growth of e-commerce, which risk destabilising the traditional nature of customer relations. The search is therefore underway for methods that can enhanced differentiation and communication in ways that will create a more robust, effective and tailored consumer experience.
Put simply, high street performance is more dependent than ever on effective customer interactions.
The answers are not always clear-cut, either, as retail is currently a testbed for a wide range of innovations – both big and small – as the sector attempts to keep up with the rapid pace of change. Moreover, the events of 2020 have not only increased the importance of the customer experience, they have also placed a renewed significance on the moments when retail staff and customers meet. Right now, those moments are limited, both in terms of frequency and duration, so delivering an augmented and consistent experience is critical.
To make the most of the time a customer is in-store, retailers need to ensure that their frontline retail staff have the knowledge and flexibility to deliver a rewarding, value-added visit, time and again, especially as store visits may well be infrequent. So, when a customer does make the effort to enter a retail outlet, they need to be rewarded with the best possible experience.
For many of the people who do make an in-store call, it may well be the only time they’re getting out that day, so their shopping experience could double up as one of their key social interactions. It is therefore important for retailers to deliver an inclusive experience.
Many of today’s customers are well-informed and digitally literate; they take time to research the products they want. Front-line retail staff can feel left behind if they don’t have as much information as the customer. Employees therefore need to be able to quickly answer queries to add value to the retail experience.
So how does this all work in practice? For starters, your retail workforce needs the right platform. Empowering staff using the best possible digital engagement will support and improve those all-important moments of interaction. Retailers therefore need to:
- Provide real-time access to customer information as well as produce and record data
- Improve conversion rates by offering enhanced levels of product information
- Offer accurate and seamless click and collect
- Enable personalised offers and services by accessing customer preferences and purchase history
- Save the sale by ensuring out-of-stock items are promptly re-ordered
- Provide staff with a reliable, secure communication platform to share critical information amongst each other and store management
Honeywell recognised that retailers needed a single platform for all their mobile devices – enabling rapid, cost-effectively deployments while ensuring robust performance and security, and above all, adaptable to changing needs. We therefore developed Mobility Edge™, a unified, dynamic platform for mobile retail computing that can be used across the retail supply chain. It is designed to:
- Accelerate deployments by configuring only once across the retail enterprise
- Optimise business performance by monitoring if staff have functioning devices
- Extend lifecycle by reducing the total cost of ownership by up to 50%
- Strengthen security to protect both your staff and customers
Fundamentally, it’s about connection and control and making sure the workforce feels empowered and supported with accurate real-time information. Having all devices on the same platform means a retailer’s one-time investment in setup, deployment, and provisioning can be deployed across all devices in the entire retail environment. A unified platform, coupled with an agile approach, delivers more secure and reliable solutions across retailer operations for all the moments that matter to customers.
As part of Mobility Edge, staff are issued with rugged mobile devices that ensure they can always access a retail businesses’ critical information. These devices are also a key role in connecting online and offline retail operations – the same information customers viewed online can be made available to the retailer’s staff in-store. All of this leads to customers having consistently great experiences.
Retailers need to be thinking about what future in-store interactions will look like, too. Connecting everything holistically through edge computing will radically change what retailers have come to expect from their stores and open the way to future-ready innovations and new revenue streams.
The store environment is about to become fertile ground for data and insight harvesting, enabling retailers to get a quicker and more granular understanding of their customers, helping optimise store layout and promotions, accordingly. Edge computing makes real-time data collection a reality and can be used to support innovations in automation; for example, automatic reordering without the need for manual intervention or validation.
Taken together, this can deliver a smarter and more responsive retail environment – one which rewards in-store visits and supports sales. Life on the edge never looked more appealing.