Digital breakthroughs, Covid-19 and evolving consumer habits have upset old business models yet created new ones. Legacy retailers hit hard by new competition and constant disruption are reacting to meet today’s demands. But change isn’t always easy. Here are five common headaches for established retailers trying to get fit for the future.
Innovation is challenging
Customers aren’t only looking for specific goods to buy. They want new brand experiences, better bargains, more personalization and swifter interactions. Retailers are creating new ways to browse, pay or receive items, and add other excitement to the customer journey. But all too often attempts to innovate can stagnate.
One major roadblock is legacy IT architecture. Many retailers have commerce platforms and other infrastructure that was developed and installed as long as 40 years ago. These monolithic structures are inflexible, and typically bound up in custom code. Try to change one thing and something breaks elsewhere — and leaving IT departments busy firefighting issues with ageing equipment. In this environment, innovation hits the buffers and leaders, naturally, shy away from the notion of investment at scale and risk. This means fewer innovation projects, delivered more cautiously, with the onus on avoiding risk rather than generating reward.
Scaling up can’t wait
Sometimes change is unavoidable. One example is self-service, either via self-scan on a mobile device or self-checkout (SCO). Retailers have had to experiment with new ways to satisfy customer demand for faster journeys, and / or to reduce labour costs. In some cases, store pilots have proven the benefits of installing SCO. But because these are built on isolated, localised on-prem servers, it can be challenging to replicate across the entire store estate. Multiple verticals, diverse brands and scattered IT systems and servers can mean the cost and complication of scaling up is enormous.
What to do with physical stores?
Online-only stores have made retailers think hard about bricks and mortar. On one hand, physical stores provide a positive point of differentiation from digital competitors; once tempted inside, customers can often be persuaded to buy more. Even Amazon has moved into physical stores.
But stores are costly to run. Many retailers are rationalising estates, cutting rent and labour costs while trying to move their customers online. Others are trying to turn loss-making shops into profit centres by empowering store associates to sell more, or rethinking the way they serve, perhaps via mobile point-of-sale.
Everybody wants something different
Today, no two shoppers are the same. Some have the patience to wait in line for personal service…. but plenty don’t want interaction but to buy everything speedily via self-scan. It’s not just payment procedures that divide. Customers have incredibly different attitudes to loyalty, personalisation, privacy, subscriptions, service, customer journeys, and buying online and in-store. Today, retailers must serve every customer in their preferred fashion, with consistency of prices, promotions and brand experience, regardless of the channels. Unifying commerce operations and the consumer experience, is of paramount importance.
How to find the right technology partners
Technology providers once had a vested interest in making integrations complex. If a retailer wanted to add capabilities, it then had to return to the original core supplier, rather than commissioning a competitor. But tech providers can’t be blockers — CIOs and the market will not allow. Now, successful retail requires collaboration. Retailers need an ecosystem of partners that are specialists in their own fields, but all prepared and able to work seamlessly with other technology businesses – including the retailer’s own IT department – to realise shared goals in innovative ways. Many retailers are struggling to switch to an ecosystem approach, they fear cost and risk of reinvigorating their infrastructure.
But it doesn’t have to be this way…
Flooid is here to help retailers reimagine their operations with collaborative, cloud-based technology that takes the heavy lifting out of innovation and scaling. With cloud, innovative ideas can be spun up, tried, tested and deployed at scale at a fraction of the previous cost. Our platform unifies commerce across channels, verticals and territories, while giving retailers the ability to buy-in our additional out-of-the-box capabilities such as SCO, commission a third party, or use their own in-house development teams. It’s fast, simple, effective evolution, and it means retailers save money, make money and get to know their customers better.
To learn more about Flooid’s Great Retail Reboot, email firstname.lastname@example.org