In the fiercely competitive world of retail, traditional bricks-and-mortar stores need to find ways of tempting online purchasers back. The inducement is smart retailing. Because the challenges are real: average growth in online sales revenue over the last ten years was around 12 percent. Over the same period, sales at physical stores grew by a meager 0.2 percent. That was the finding of a study by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).
Smart retail: a digital shopping experience in physical stores
In the online age, retailers need to respond to changing consumer expectations and ever-fiercer competition – by deploying digital retail solutions in their bricks-and-mortar outlets. Today’s shoppers want smart stores where they are treated to an end-to-end connected experience. They want a place where the physical products on display are linked to the Internet world, and where they receive personalized, high-quality advice and assistance. The building blocks of smart retail are connectivity, integration and big-data analytics. They allow the configuration of products and services tailored to individual preferences, and effective, efficient customer communications and retention.
Networks as the basis for digitization
Sales people need to interact with customers, and inform them – providing the right facts, and attaining the right results. In this context, devices such as PCs, telephones, cash registers, advertising displays, and electronic shelf labels can be extremely powerful tools – especially when they are seamlessly integrated. Physical stores that deploy local area networks (LAN) or their wireless cousins (WLANs) can forge strong, seamless connections between these various elements, achieving a whole new level of control and transparency. By opting for managed LAN services, retailers can outsource the design, provisioning and management of their infrastructure to experts such as T-Systems. These scalable solutions can be modified at any time in line with changing user needs. Moreover, the retailer no longer has to assign costly, skilled human resources to network implementation, operation and maintenance. As a result, smart retailers are equipped for growth and competition, and are free to focus on their core business.
Fully connected, fully prepared
A connected store is key to the end-to-end digitization of conventional retail.
WLANs and hotspots go a step further, delivering coverage throughout the entire physical store. This allows improved communications, the launch of new in-store services, and more efficient logistics. Free surfing improves consumer satisfaction and interest, and supplies them with targeted information and promotions – all in all, wireless connectivity makes it easier and simpler to initiate customer interaction.
Visibility into business-critical metrics: with retail data analytics
If retailers are to tailor advertising and offerings to personal desires, they must first fully understand what their customers want. This can be achieved with smart retail data analytics. These applications capture and manage key customer metrics, and make them available to all employees within the organization. Out-of-store retail analytics monitors people flows in the vicinity of the retail outlet, indicating where potential customers are going, where they came from and when – and in what numbers. In-store retail analytics measures traffic within the physical environment, and reveals what interests potential purchasers most. All this information, in conjunction with individual value-added services for customers, is made available to all retail staff. A dashboard visualizes the statistics in a user-friendly format, creating a powerful, comprehensive resource that makes the smart retail vision a profitable reality.