Make the case for digital and make it happen: Hints and tips for the retail sector

In any given business, the reasons not to invest in new digital technologies are manifold, and quite understandable from certain points of view. It can be costly; business leaders don’t fully understand the benefits; financial leaders can’t see where the returns will be; existing infrastructures won’t support it; the technology isn’t yet mature enough to invest… and so on. So what can you do when you know digitisation is the right choice? How do you make the case – and make it happen?

1. Emphasise the impact

The Internet of Things (IoT) is already having a demonstrable impact both on consumer behaviour and on the retail sector. In the next three years, that impact will be dramatic – and according to McKinsey, there’s a potential annual value of $1.2trillion waiting to be unlocked through effective deployment of technology in retail by 2025. The good news is that the technology is already there. Now is the time to tap into its potential.

2. It’s not just shelf labels

For those who believe that IoT in retail is not yet mature, it’s true that there is much experimentation in evidence – electronic shelf-edge labels, beacons, smart badges, RFID tags, location analytics and more are in use. But few retailers are employing IoT to its full potential. Retailers will see the biggest positive impact from IoT when they start connecting it to the bigger picture. That means connecting applications to each other, to the existing technologies in the business, and to the whole supply chain.

3. “Show me the value”

This is what connected retail could look like. Location analytics help you understand in-store traffic patterns following a promotion, point of sale data helps you confirm it’s the promoted product that’s causing increased footfall. Predictive modelling can tell you exactly when you’ll need more staff on the checkouts, and smart shelves tell you when displays are running low. Real time inventory managing systems can alert staff to restock, and if the store itself needs restocking, you can see, and track, exactly where it is, even in transit. If there’s a delay, you can create an alternative offer until stock arrives, simply by changing your electronic signage and updating electronic shelf-edge labels with new prices. The moment new stock arrives, it’s automatically scanned, electronic displays can revert to the original offer and in-store merchandisers mobilised.

4. Digitisation addresses the 3 core value drivers

Revenue. Cost efficiencies. Risk management. When IoT is connected as in the above scenario, you’re optimising your pricing and promotions, your in-store inventory is being managed efficiently and intelligently, and management of suppliers and supply chains is streamlined and improved, with greater visibility at all points. All of this can happen in real time, making optimum use of the rich data your technology can provide you, and making the business more responsive and more agile. You also see gains in staff efficiencies, increased promotion conversions, the reduced likelihood of running out of stock. And ultimately, increased profit margins.

5. The time is now

Technology and the Internet of Things are the enablers of innovation. In order to stay ahead, deliver a competition-beating customer experience, increase productivity, create a winning omnichannel presence, drive efficiency, reduce costs and effectively manage risk, you need the right technology, you need it joined up, and you need it now. So gain the right specific insights, develop the right strategic partnerships and put IoT to work. The technology is out there. Make the most of it before your competitors beat you to it.


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