The top five things you need to know about next-gen retail
New York City's famous Jacob Javits convention center was home to the National Retail Federation's Big Show from January 13-15, and some of the biggest names in retail software and hardware made their presence felt with eye catching booths and demonstrations designed to attract some of the 36,500 industry attendees. KORCOMPTENZ was in the massive Expo Hall, networking with customers and partners, seeking to enable their business with digital transformation.
Here are the top five things you need to know about the show's take on the future of retail.
Omnichannel is King
Today's retailers sell in store, online, in app, and over the phone. The most successful ones can connect their customers across all platforms, instantly recognizing that Christian in the store is also Christian from online, but making this work can be challenging especially for smaller sellers. Have no fear, it seemed every major software company at the show, from Microsoft to Salesforce to SAP, was offering a solution.
At the same time, here's a pro tip: It's not just about your ERP, CRM, or customer service software. The technology on that front has been in place for several years. The real challenge for small and mid-size retailers is managing the data and processing the transactions seamlessly without continually requesting credit card information. Therefore, you're going to need two things:
1) A data collection and sharing program that uses a unique identifier like a phone number that can be requested across all channels, and then used to link the customer together. Some customers may not like giving their phone number in the store, so be sure to have a good reason why you are asking.
2) Credit card merchant services that work across all of your channels and allow you process more than one transaction without rekeying credit card information.
Mobile Retail is On the Way
Anyone who's ever shopped at an Apple Store is bound to notice that they don't use cash registers. Transactions are completed entirely on iPhones and iPads, and this trend is expected to transform retail overall, allowing the folks behind the cash register to get out on the floor and work directly with customers. The large hardware retailers like Lenovo were all showcasing their solutions, and the good news for small and midmarket retailers is the price points are starting to get affordable.
At the same time, here's another pro tip: You need to make sure your payment processing hardware is certified by your merchant. The big boys do their own certifications and don't have to worry, but for the average retailer, make sure to check the compatibility between your mobile device and payment processor first.
The Internet of Things is on the Loose
There's no escaping the world of connective devices, and retail is no different. RFID chips were everywhere with companies like Honeywell demonstrating the ease and effectiveness of performing inventory from 3 feet away. It looks like the era of the barcode is officially over.
The Internet of Things isn't just to improve operations, however. There were companies at the show demonstrating next generation customer service and engagement solutions, including a magic mirror that overlaid make up or clothes on a customer using Augmented Reality technology. You truly have to see it to believe it: Click here
Artificial Intelligence is…Evolving
AI has become such a ubiquitous buzzword that almost every exhibitor had to say something about it, if only that they "have it," whatever it may be. Still, there are certain key applications for retail that even smaller providers can take advantage of today: Namely, automating customer service and sales with a chatbot. This service can be plugged into your website and online storefront, enabling customers to access questions about your products and their orders.
Data Analysis is Available for All Markets
Big Data has become almost as much of a buzzword as AI, but the market is more mature and there are packages available for small and mid-size retailers that will enable you to better forecast sales, inventory, and even predict pricing. If you aren't doing it today, this is something you should seriously consider investing in soon.
Trust KORCOMPTENZ for Help
KORCOMPTENZ was at the show and is immersed in the trends. We specialize in retail and fashion solutions for the mid-market, and can help you improve you warehouse operations, implement an omnichannel retail strategy, and improve your mobile capabilities. Contact us today for a complementary consultation.