Retail technology making day-to-day life easier

25th Oct 2016

Retail is changing fast. Consumers now want to buy things quickly and conveniently, especially when it comes to shopping for everyday items. In the Omnico Retail Gap Barometer launched last month, 74 per cent of respondents said their main focus when shopping was on speed and convenience.

Yet in the age of omni-channel retailing, consumers also expect to have the same, high-quality, joined-up experience at every touch-point, whether online, in-store or visiting a shopping mall. There is an expectation of consistency across each.

Achieving this requires a myriad of systems and technologies to be pulled together and shaped into a single, fully-functioning whole. This is a task that is demanding of retailers but entirely achievable with the right solutions.

The smart fridge magnet

An excellent practical example of how this is coming together is in the shape of hiku, a small magnetic device that can stick to a fridge. Last year Waitrose started piloting it, allowing consumers to create shopping lists synched to smartphones, ready for use online or in-store and for which the device will arrange home delivery.

It is linked with everything from phones, web site, store ordering and picking systems, to delivery-scheduling, customer-relationship management and fulfilment solutions, as well as email. It has been well reviewed and if successfully adopted here (and in the US) should be a signpost to the future of retail.

Instant coffee

This seamless connection of different systems is changing the face of hospitality too. Coffeehouse company Harris + Hoole has pioneered the use of technology that recognises the customer and their usual order by connecting its customer mobile app with its CRM, payment and POS, and the results are remarkable.

The payment app (which the customer has already downloaded) triggers the display of a photograph on the POS terminal informing the barista of the usual order and confirming to the cashier who the customer is. If it is only the favourite brew that is required, then the amount is deducted from the app. If, however, the customer wants something different, then the technology joining everything up allows the POS to add such items without hassle.

Off the hangers

The upmarket clothing retailer Jaeger has also been very bold and successful in its deployment of solutions that have brought it into the era of omni-channel retail and helped boost sales.

Not only has it adopted mobile POS, but it now also uses intelligent routing of orders for smart fulfilment, enabling it to source the right product at the right time, whether from the central warehouse or one of the company’s stores. Customers in Jaeger stores can also now see the full range of stock available right across the company.

Having achieved a single view of customers’ baskets, wish-lists and promotions, the company is now moving on to use technology that gives customers a consistent experience and access to the same basket when they shop via mobile, online or in a store.

Stitching it all together

To excel when consumer expectations are being transformed by the digital revolution, retailers have to implement new software tools that will enable them to design and visualise customer journeys, securely connecting all the technology components to ensure the experience flows seamlessly across touch-points.

A small number of technology companies are working on these tools that will enable retailers to offer consumers what they want – quick fulfilment along with engaging and personalised experiences. The opportunities are immense, but for retailers failing to meet the requirements of digitally-savvy customers, the future is less than rosy.

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