Omnichannel, self-checkouts, mobile payments, in-store shopper engagement, digital retail, social media – the focus at NRF’s Big Show was clearly on innovative retail solutions, writes Lawrence Pinto.
They were all there, the technological biggies, and they made their presence felt with their innovative ideas (see the blurb above) to take retail to the next level. It isn’t the hardware that’s important today so much as the software, given the functionality it enables. That realisation is dawning on many of the traditionally hardware-focused vendors as they pivot to a broader-focused strategy that weds hardware improvements with software functionality. That much was clearly evident at the Big Show.
The omnichannel outreach – a seamless approach to customer experience
This convergence marks an evolutionary shift from multi-channel retailing to ‘omnichannel’ retailing, which concentrates on a seamless approach to consumer experience utilising all available channels – smartphones and other mobile devices, computers, television, the print media, brick-and-mortar stores and so on.
Is this digital revolution comparable to the industrial revolution that marked the transition to new manufacturing processes in the latter half of the 18th century? That’s the question Deloitte’s Alison Paul posed in a keynote address titled ‘The Great Convergence’.
The undeniable answer to this thought-provoking question will forever change the way retailers operate. The industrial revolution witnessed a massive reconstruction of the economy. The new digital revolution is doing the same. We are no longer talking about retail technology. We are talking about consumer technology that is overhauling the retail landscape and retailers need to keep up.
Whether tweeting, sharing brand reviews online or browsing apps, the shopper is using the smartphone as a primary instrument of change. We are talking about customers accessing their smartphones in stores and the need for retailers to address customers’ mobile needs, whether they’re in line at a grocery store, lying on their couch or standing in front of a TV display and comparing prices. Is your mobile team currently under your web division? Paul recommends moving the team to the stores division.
Belk chairman and CEO Thomas Belk Jr feels we are yet to master omnichannel, offering an honest account of a retailer’s journey into the digital revolution, one that many retailers in the audience undoubtedly identified with. He points out that his Southern chain was way behind in the digital world just a few years ago, but the numbers convinced it: online-only shoppers were spending $100 a year, in-store shoppers were spending $350 a year, and those who shopped both online and in stores spent $1,064 a year.
So Belk invested millions in a plan to improve branding, refine service, remodel stores, build expansions and enhance technology, while clarifying the chain’s position as a modern, Southern-style retailer.
Just catching up in terms of technology was huge, says Belk, highlighting four phases of the upgrade that included accelerating sales in e-commerce, investing in mobile, updating infrastructure and merchandise systems and creating a roadmap to omnichannel that included re-platforming e-commerce, replacing point-of-sale (POS) systems, expanding mobile, integrating data and establishing enterprise inventory.
The retailer decided to deliver modern Southern style and hospitality, both in stores and in the digital world. One example was getting involved with local communities to spread its ‘Southern State of Mind’ philosophy across multiple channels. The company launched a mobile mammography centre that has its own blog, Facebook presence and Twitter hashtag. This omnichannel approach to outreach led the retailer to leverage in-store events, too, such as bra fittings.
How much technology is too much technology? Tech has inevitably become asApril 15, 2021 | By Shruthi Nair
According to a report by the United Nations, the fashion industry accountsFebruary 18, 2021 | By Shruthi Nair
UAE-based Carrefour announced its theme and plans for Ramadan 2021. The brand
Locally owned supermarket Spinneys celebrates 60 years of doing business in the
UAE-based Carrefour will become the first retailer in the region to offer new levels
The Organic Farmers’ Market is back in Bay Avenue for its 12th
UAE-based Lulu Group recently inaugurated its first-ever all-female staff store in Jeddah,
Jones the Grocer, the gourmet grocer and cheese retailer launches the Jones
UAE-based Al Maya Supermarkets is hosting a two-week food festival at select
Locally-owned supermarket Spinneys has launched its ‘Power of Plants’ initiative in the
Carrefour UAE has launched “Cookit Yourself” — a curated recipe box created
UAE-based Al Islami Foods, one of the largest frozen food companies in
Marks & Spencer’s plant-based range now offers over 25 vegan products including meat-free
World’s largest fully integrated online brand in fresh fish and meat e-commerce
How much technology is too much technology? Tech has inevitably become as
PrettyLittleThing has launched its first Arabic language e-commerce website that serves as
The various e-commerce and virtual retail stores that cater to different product
UAE-based Namshi has signed a strategic partnership agreement with JD.com, China’s largest online
Abu Dhabi-based Miral has announced that Yas Island is on track to
UAE-based Mumzworld, an e-commerce shopping destination for mothers in the MENA region
Contemporary men’s lifestyle brand EDGAR has launched The EDGAR Store – an
Luxury e-tailer NET-A-PORTER is launching a localized platform for its Middle Eastern
UAE-based Majid Al Futtaim has collaborated with eGrocery innovator Takeoff Technologies to
Saudi Arabia-based franchise operator Fawaz Abdulaziz Alhokair Co (Alhokair), and Arabian Centres
British brand Marks & Spencer, operated by the Al-Futtaim Group has launched
b8ta, a software-powered retailer with its mission to build ‘retail as a