1. Connect everything
Perhaps the biggest lesson-learned or reminder from post-pandemic retail is that agility is all-important. The ability to reinvent or create new ways of selling and serving the customer has been sorely tested, and not every operator has achieved success in pursuing these changes.
For retailers, ‘agility’ means many things. It means the ability to rapidly shift resources – be they human or technical – in line with customer trends. It means fast innovation, including new ways to sell or optimise core store operations. It also means a seamless transition between online and in-person commerce. Scalability, versatility, and flexibility are key words here.
Think: can we rapidly redeploy our staff members to optimise a customer journey, no matter how that customer chooses to shop with us? Are our stores configured for success? Can we easily shift resources between various in-store endpoints during different daily and seasonal shopping peaks? Are our endpoints truly connected, so we can understand the trends as they appear? And are our operations resilient, meaning no interruption to businesses as usual, ever?
None of this can be completely achieved without a solid composable and flexible technical foundation. Only a unified commerce system can bring together every sales endpoint to deliver consistency of experience to the customer regardless of channel, and a single view of the truth to management. Open APIs can simplify integrations. A tested and trusted cloud solution provider is another must; one that can deliver adaptable, scalable and performant applications, with demonstrated security and sustainability. Flooid’s unified composable platform is built and proven to address the challenges of modern omnichannel selling.
2. Stem losses
The cost-of-living crisis and opportunism has driven retail theft through the roof. According to the National Retail Federation, shrink now accounts for a scandalous $112billion in losses. This unsustainable situation is an existential threat to profits and has already led to the shutting of stores in many hard-hit cities.
So, what can retailers do? Many are showing real innovation in their responses, be it offering free coffee to law enforcement officers, investing in facial recognition software, or using smart sensors that are more difficult to detach from products. Others have been less quick to react and are faced with the unpleasant impact of putting their staff – and their margins – at risk.
There are effective ways to fight back. Flooid’s experience with leading grocery, convenience and fuel, fast-fashion, general merchandise and specialty retailers has shown how empowering store assistants with real-time mobile technology can help them spot suspicious activity at self-checkouts and other in-store points-of-sale. A new generation of computer vision, RFID and smart tagging solutions are making it easier to identify items and offenders, and thereby stop theft. Retailers with the conviction to connect and invest in these technologies will protect their staff, their business, and their communities from crime.
3. Learn and earn
In an increasingly fast-moving world, understanding patterns can make or break sales performance on individual promotions, product ranges, or standalone stores. But sorting the wheat from the chaff is not easy in the Big Data world – unless you have an insights platform that can find and surface relevant information quickly and consistently.
Not all insights platforms are alike. An effective insights program will work seamlessly with a unified commerce platform; one that provides an informational foundation for data that is key to spotting trends. Retailers also should invest in an insights platform that delivers near real-time information and gives them freedom to search and combine searches over different factors such as endpoint, time, store, lane, product line, and promotions. To drive results, reports should be generated in minutes, not days. Once a best-in-class platform is in place, capitalising on the benefits of AI for predictive, proactive reporting is where further opportunities for driving cost out and revenues up lie.
Re-evaluating retail operations is no longer optional. In 2024, it is vital retailers examine every element of their operations, making sure they are ready and able to evolve with our changing industry. Investing in a composable, unified commerce platform can bring together the disparate elements of a fast-moving retail operation, making it much easier to cut losses, learn and deliver positive change that lasts.