05 January 2017
Blogs by author: Alison Wiltshire, Global Practice Lead, Retail and Consumer Goods, BT.
Physical stores are beginning to catch up with what today’s digital consumers want, but failing to integrate technology solutions is holding them back.
One retail technology platform.
Retailers are moving to give digital customers a positive experience of bricks-and-mortar stores by introducing multiple customer touchpoints, such as:
- Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID) enabled inventory.
- Internet of Things (IoT) sensors and digital services.
But this means they run the risk of old-school IT problems, and end up with separate solutions that don’t join up or share data.
The solution must be one technology platform that connects all the retailer’s customer touchpoints, enterprise systems and external services.
Unless retailers link digital solutions with their enterprise systems and share and analyse data, the digital store will fail. This is because customers will continue to experience the same frustrations around inaccurate inventory and a business that can’t remember their personal details. And these customers will move to smarter retailers, or online channels instead.
Working together — digitally.
Digitising store operations is a huge ask. There are likely to be multiple solutions from different technology vendors at work. The big question is: how can you get everything to work together? The answer is to have a single technology platform that connects services, aggregates data from every source and combines it with advanced analytical tools for real-time insights. It’s the best way for retailers to constantly refine the customer experience, optimise store operations and identify longer term trends. Ultimately, retailers can add value by connecting enterprise and point systems — so the digital store can operate in real-time.
The ideal digital store platform brings together core technologies, including:
- IoT sensors, readers and cameras that monitor things and people around the store.
- Network services so there is always sufficient bandwidth.
- Cloud storage for data sharing and core applications, for consistent operations.
- Smart tags and labels that communicate with the retailer/customer, improving service and underpinning compliance.
- Business analytics that help make sense of incoming data and help the retailer take better, faster decisions.
- Security tools and expertise that recognise the new challenges of the digital age.
- Integration of new solutions with legacy systems and enterprise applications.
Rolling-out digital store platforms.
The scale of the integration challenge is significant. DIY is not really an option. In response, BT and other retail technology leaders have come together in the Acuitas Digital Alliance with the aim of making it easier for retailers to develop and roll-out their digital store platforms. Retailers who are committed to digitising their operations will be looking for, and leaning on, partners they can trust.
For more on digitising store operations, one of the five retail transformation journeys, visit Alison’s blogs on how to achieve seamless customer engagement, how to supercharge your sales associates and Christmas shopping in the digital age.
And to find out more about digital retail challenges, have a chat to our experts at NRF 2017, Retail’s Big Show, from 15 to 17 January 2017.
Alison Wiltshire leads BT’s retail & consumer goods global industry practice. She is responsible for helping BT’s customers give shoppers want they want from “bricks and mortar” stores — great experiences combining the personalisation of online shopping with the entertainment and stimulation of real-life engagement with products and people. She does this through BT’s specialist portfolio of fully managed retail services and integrated solutions.
Follow Alison on LinkedIn.