Technology has reshaped industries across the board, but the tangible impact on the retail industry stands out among all the stories about digital transformation. How, where and when we shop has changed dramatically in recent years, and the growing reliance on technology shows no signs of stopping. A McKinsey report predicts that a third of all retail operations will be impacted by technology by 2030, from the supply chain to brick-and-mortar stores.
The evolution of customer experience (CX)
This tech-forward trend goes hand-in-hand with a growing demand for high-speed internet to ensure business continuity, avoid lost revenue and ultimately improve the customer experience. Retailers want to offer a seamless shopping and online experience, guarantee instant and secure transactions, and efficiently manage inventory and logistics.
Every step of the customer journey today largely depends on and is enhanced by seamless connectivity, from loyalty programs and rewards apps to browsing and paying for goods. Companies like Tesco and Muji are streamlining the payment process and speeding up product checkouts in stores with point-of-sale technology. There’s an economic reason for this — McKinsey reported that automated checkouts could save businesses up to $380 billion annually by 2025.
The widespread digital transformation in the retail industry is likely to make checkoutless stores the norm. Widespread implementation of this technology requires the use of multiple applications and a high level of interoperability between systems. This new ecosystem is backed by a secure network and supported by a reliable internet connection. This will also ensure continuous access to customer data, delivering deep insights that smart businesses use to future-proof their businesses – using predictive insights to anticipate behaviors, spot CX problems and identify opportunities.
The convergence of instore and online
As e-commerce booms, brick-and-mortar stores are focused on creating in-store experiences that inspire customers to keep coming back. Some retailers entice their customer base to visit in person by offering a unique hybrid experience.
One of the companies at the forefront of this type of innovation is Farfetch, a well-known luxury e-commerce band. The “shop of the future” was recently presented, which combines the physical and the digital in its approach. Through the use of augmented reality, innovative payment solutions and emotion-scanning software, Farfetch strengthens the emotional bond while collecting important data on customer behavior.
Different retailers will choose different innovation paths, but ultimately face similar industry-specific challenges. Keeping innovation costs down without sacrificing connectivity quality is crucial. studies have shown that 1 in 4 visitors will abandon a website if it takes more than 4 seconds to load. And while it’s less common for in-store customers to leave the store while waiting for service, it will likely have a noticeable impact on retention rates and subsequent sales.
This requires a flexible design option when designing the IT infrastructure. Tailoring the connectivity solution to the specific needs of the business not only allows for better overall control, but also ensures that whatever is set up aligns with the digital footprint already in place and is fully interoperable.
logistics and operations
The increasing reliance on connectivity doesn’t stop with the customer-facing side of retail; Backend operations also benefit tremendously from technological innovations. Success in logistics and operations is defined by efficiency and depends heavily on accurate and timely data. Ensuring optimal connectivity means real-time access to this data, which combined with integrated systems and apps, allows retailers to automate processes such as store and warehouse replenishment and contacting suppliers.
The last few years have shown the vulnerability of supply chains. One of the biggest challenges facing the industry right now is accommodating these global fluctuations, which can cause significant delays for subsequent retailers. IoT-enabled devices are able to increase transparency within the supply chain and connect the dots within the system, so no business or warehouse is isolated.
This is a real game changer for retailers with multiple store locations scattered across the country or even the world. For example, lululemon’s customer-facing inventory managers use RFID-based technology to check product availability in real-time and let the customer know which store has inventory, taking advantage of the instant connection that IoT technology offers.
A strong foundation for innovation
The many benefits that digital transformation brings are only as effective as the IT infrastructure that enables it – from optimizing the customer experience to leveraging the IoT, fast and reliable connectivity is at the heart of everything your business needs is working. End-to-end operations require consistent service experience across regions, with proactive in-region support from a trusted managed service provider.
This is increasingly true for retailers with a global footprint, as internet connectivity will vary greatly from location to location. Partnering with a global network provider bypasses regional connectivity issues, guaranteeing vetted third-party providers and the security of a managed network solution designed with technology in mind.
Digital transformation is not a goal line that companies are reaching, but an ever-evolving quest for gold-standard internet connectivity. Those who are ahead of the curve and successfully implement the latest innovations will reap the most benefits.
Francois Champagne is Senior Solutions Engineer at experience. With over 20 years of experience as an engineer, he joined Expereo in 2020 as a Senior Solutions Engineer. As a WAN expert, he has a broad knowledge of voice, video, data center and security products. At Expereo, he can use his technical knowledge to develop design solutions while ensuring compatibility with other services that the customer may need.