Modern retail ecosystems are required to support today’s consumers

Modern retail ecosystems are required to support today’s consumers

Retailers know that brick-and-mortar stores must continue evolving to be profitable in 2023. While physical stores are still in demandover 15,000 new stores opened in the discount sector alone during 2022 according to the Global Retail in 2023 Coresight Research report— consumers expect the high-quality in-store experiences they have become accustomed to via the e-commerce model. As retailers are no strangers to innovation and evolution, the question now is how to adapt at speed whilst mitigating cost and risk and differentiating against the competition.

The opportunity for retailers

Brick-and-mortar retailers have dozens of models from which to build out their ideal front-of-store experience, be it buy-online-pickup-in-storea cross-pollination of channels between e-commerce and physical—to implementing micro-fulfillment centers for local home deliveries. These models have further expanded into personalization of the consumer experience, whereby an individual is known to the retailer across multiple channels. This enables the retailer to directly provide targeted and highly personalized content and promotions to drive loyalty and increased basket size.

We are also seeing the “retailization” of the healthcare and clinical industries across major big-box retailers. These organizations have a critical mass that flows through their stores every week. They understand consumer engagement and buying trends better than the healthcare industry on its own. Most importantly, they have an opportunity to provide primary care and be transparent with pricing. This is already happening across major brick-and-mortar stores striving to be “destination retailers” in the U.S., like CVS, Walgreens and Walmart.

From front-of-store to behind-the-scenes

To implement modern front-of-store enhancements, there’s a plethora of new behind-the-scenes technology—from inventory systems calculating the most efficient and consumer-friendly way of delivering goods and feeding back into the supply chain for restocking, to point-of-sale (POS) systems for consumer engagement and self-service, and artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) solutions that analyze customer behavior.

With these modern business-enhancing solutions, the store associate continues to be a conduit for the brand, but they must be able to navigate this technology to provide outstanding service to their customers. Being proactive is key to their success, and there are many great solutions to help empower them to get the best out of their role, be it workforce management, onboarding, bring-your-own-device systems, and more.

The importance of operations

Store operations are the final piece of the puzzle that needs to grow alongside these innovations. They must get more efficient to ensure a slick consumer experience. Take automating risk analytics as an examplein-store cameras used for customer heat mapping can also be leveraged to identify spills and slip hazards for rapid resolution. What about fraud and loss? Computer vision solutions can be programmed to run loss prevention monitoring algorithms autonomously, potentially saving a retailer millions of dollars. Security remains the center of any change or enhancement to store operations. The rise of ransomware attacks has created a demand for solutionssuch as reducing data silosto curb the possibility of losing consumer data, which can significantly impact brand reputation and consumer loyalty.

The emerging ecosystem

The retail store ecosystem is complex and growing. Making the case for investment in these changes can be hard, especially if each innovation is considered in its own silo. While retailers want to enjoy the benefits of new solutions, it can be challenging if they generate additional technology debt whilst doing so. However, a method that can help is to build a single solid, secure and dependable technology foundation that can be leveraged in-storeacross every storefrom the cloud to the POS. Cross-cloud services and edge technology can provide this foundation to help deliver the retail ecosystem that brick-and-mortar retailers need today.