Technological advances that once took decades to disrupt industries, are now arriving every few years and are rapidly being adopted by your tech-savvy customers. The internet, apps, Google, social media and smartphones are now so widespread that it is impossible to think of doing business without them.
Here are 3 technology “buzzwords” that you need to know about today, so that you can plan how you will incorporate them into your business processes tomorrow.
1. Cloud computing
If you haven’t heard of this trend you’ve been living under a rock. The most common examples such as Xero and Gmail host your data and run the software programme on servers in a secure data centre. You use them by logging in with a password over the internet to receive a number of important benefits including:
- improved security and data recovery;
- reduced work because hardware and software upgrades are done for you;
- better performance because high-powered servers deliver the results to your internet-connected device(s) anywhere, any time;
- additional features such as automation, data sharing or benchmarking which you can’t do on your own.
Cloud computing is going to change the way your store works when you move to cloud-based POS software.These systems are available now – and they are maturing quickly so that their features are out-stripping the older, installed programmes.
This stands for Customer Relationship Management and there are a number of big, global software companies such as Salesforce that enable businesses to log every customer interaction in a database, and use the CRM data to improve sales and service.
Every big business you deal with logs your call or transaction against your name or ID number in their CRM database (e.g. banks, telcos, airlines, the IRD etc). This allows them to “look up your details” when they are dealing with you next time – and it also helps them to analyse your history so that they can send reminders, offer you new products or detect when you’ve changed your spending habits.
The big change in retail will come when every customer’s retail transaction records are used to “personalise” marketing offers and reminders, and even to automatically send out reminders and alerts.
3. The endless aisle
Whether you shop instore or online, by self-service, home delivery or face-to-face with a sales professional, you want to be able to get the same, satisfying experience and know that all of the products you want can be found, purchased and supplied when and where you want them.
This might sound straightforward – but just think of the times you’ve seen something advertised, but been unable to find it in your local store. Or the shop staff haven’t been able to locate the item you want and can’t tell you when it will be available.
One of the first places we will see the impact of the endless aisle – is the ability for customers to “Buy Online & Pickup In Store” or BOPIS. This service is already widespread with 69% of US customers reporting they have used it [WDPartners.com - March 2017]– but many of these shoppers reported a poor experience due to retailers’ failure to make the service user-friendly enough.
We are now in the information age – and your customers expect to be able to research all of your products and services online, see their personal shopping history, and receive recommendations that are relevant and personalised. They already get this with Amazon and Spotify, and even the local pizza shop and taxi service know their name and can personalise offers and deliver their service within minutes.
The software and computing power already exists to make this enhanced service experience available all of the time – so these advances are rapidly becoming “normal” for retailers who want to remain competitive. How long will it be before your retail business embraces these new technologies?
Talk to us - and we can provide you with an experienced overview of the best solutions for your retail business.