How to Lead Retailers Through the Digital TransformationHow to Lead Retailers Through the Digital Transformation
Resellers and agents can help retailers satisfy their two customer bases more efficiently.
January 29, 2021
By Brenda McCurry and Karen Bomber
Shopping has adopted a digital element – one capitalizing on efficiency over tradition, particularly this year. Whether it’s groceries, clothes or toys, more customers are growing accustomed to a digital side of shopping, opting to either get their goods delivered at home, or instead choosing to buy online and pick up curbside.
As a result, retailers are feeling the burden from two customer bases: traditional shoppers still using brick and mortar stores, and those actually using the stores as microfulfillment centers. This new business model causes a unique challenge for retailers, but with the right tools and proper guidance, they can adapt to meet the changing preferences of their customers.
The influx of convenient shopping options has driven retailers large and small to rapidly adopt some form of online shopping so consumers can order goods from their homes — and some right to their homes. By providing at-home delivery and click-and-collect shopping options, retailers are reaching a wider customer base than ever before. However, they cannot do so until they make one critical investment: a strong digital infrastructure. With the help of a reseller partner or an agent, as well as some of the latest technologies and services, the implementation and operability of a retailer’s e-commerce structure can determine its ability to compete in a rapidly changing business environment.
Fortunately, with online shopping increasing over the last few years and booming this year, retailers can be confident in their decision to build up a digital infrastructure. Whether you’re working with a mom-and-pop store or a national chain, businesses are looking for trusted advisers to guide them through this digital transformation. Implementing wireless configuration within an end-user’s store and beyond is the first step to allow for an interconnected physical and digital storefront. This provides options to connect delivery and point-of sale-systems, inventory management platforms, loyalty/engagement programs, an online web store and more. Having the capability to integrate different areas of operations is crucial for maintaining smooth operations both in-store and online, especially as convenience continues to guide the direction of the industry, providing significant opportunity for resellers and agents, alike.
Accommodating Click-and-Collect Customers
As retailers continue to offer shopping solutions for the online, on-the-go shopper, businesses are forced to become a type of microfulfilment center where employees both stock shelves and package e-commerce orders. However, brick-and-mortar stores weren’t built to serve as fulfillment centers; they were built for in-person shopping, designed with casual browsing and impulse purchases in mind. With the help of expert resellers and agents, businesses can work around this new dynamic with innovative uses of technologies that can be leveraged to help employees fulfill online orders with ease and continue to provide customer service to in-person shoppers.
Offering e-commerce options can bring in a higher number of patrons, but businesses need the right tools so there’s no loss of customers. Once the right digital configuration has been established in a store with wireless access points throughout, mobile devices can serve as modes of communication within the store. Employees can communicate with each other to help avoid wait times for curbside pickup and errors in order fulfilment. When a customer ordering groceries, for example, places an order for apples but instead receives bananas, the customer will quickly …
… lose faith in the store’s ability to process online orders. Employees can use compact and portable Android tablets connected to the wireless infrastructure to relay errors, like a mis-pick for a curbside pickup, and solve the fulfilment issue in an efficient manner.
Accommodating ‘Traditional’ Customers
As e-commerce continues to exponentially grow, there will still be customers who want to handpick their avocados, jog around the store before purchasing shoes or try on that new work shirt. To maintain success, retailers must implement solutions that please both customer types. Businesses need to ensure that they’re not impacting the traditional, in-store shoppers who prefer a stocked store while they meet the needs of click-and-collect customers.
E-commerce shoppers create an added demand for products from a single store, so it’s imperative that stores monitor product levels as items are purchased since it impacts a singular supply. Resellers and agents will need to help retailers utilize their strong wireless infrastructure in-store and online to monitor their inventory. When an in-person shopper sees empty shelves, it may prompt them to look to other stores. To solve this issue, end-users can turn to reseller partners and agents to train employees on the latest mobile devices with wayfinding apps to help their customers find goods quicker and track down any additional stock that may be stored in the back. Consistent monitoring of product levels can alleviate potential e-commerce bottlenecks and ensure top-notch customer service to both types of patrons.
Savvy retailers who invest in the proper infrastructure to support them digitally and physically are most apt to succeed as consumer trends continue in the direction of convenience. These solutions can easily be implemented by working with trusted resellers and agents who can ensure that retailers have the right technology to compete in this industry. Wireless and mobile technology will not only boost the traditional, in-person business that retailers have accommodated all along, but it will strengthen a whole new digital customer base.
Brenda McCurry serves as vice president of supplier services, point of sale and barcode at ScanSource, where she manages the company’s vendor relationships and guides strategy. She has held leadership positions in sales and merchandising, focusing on vendor relationships, marketing program success and new customer recruitment. Prior to joining ScanSource in 1993, she spent 10 years in sales and product-management roles in the IT distribution industry. You may follow her on LinkedIn and the company @ScanSource on Twitter.
Karen Bomber is the director of marketing, productivity products at Honeywell. She has more than 20 years of technical expertise in product engineering, marketing strategy, product launches and operations planning. She began her career as an engineer and holds several patents in AIDC, RFID and retail technologies. Prior to Honeywell, Bomber served as director of product marketing at InVue and in various leadership roles at Sensormatic and Tyco. You may follow her on LinkedIn and the company @honeywell on Twitter.
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