From eCommerce to AI: The Transformation of the Retail Industry
How the Right Retail Technology Partner can Better Your Business
We live in an increasingly modernized and futuristic world: through exponential advances in science and technology, what was merely science fiction yesterday can be made a reality today. The recent advancements in technology are opening more doors for businesses than ever before, forcing retailers to ask themselves: am I behind the curve in my industry, and if so, how can I adapt and utilize this new technology to my advantage?
Technologies Then and Now
The first commercially available cell phone was the Motorola DynaTAC 8000x, which hit the market in 1983. Weighing in at two pounds, the Motorola would set consumers back nearly four thousand dollars and offered just a half hour of talk time per battery charge. Today, Apple’s iPhone X boasts a 256 gigabyte memory, HDR display, water-resistant construction, a twelve megapixel wide-angle camera, and up to 21 hours of talk time per charge.
An Increasingly Interconnected World
The retail industry, much like the telecommunications industry, has evolved quite a bit since the 1980s, but retail faces many unique challenges and disruptions that came along with the advent of the internet age. As new generations are raised with online shopping as their primary retail experience, the writing on the wall has become clear: brick-and-mortar stores, while still effective, are no longer consumers’ only option for shopping, and online stores have never been more popular.
In a world where anyone can browse thousands of different online retailers in just a few minutes, trying to differentiate oneself can seem a daunting task. Luckily, the increasingly interconnected world we live in provides benefits as well. By adopting new technologies like updated POS software, making use of analytics, and adapting to the demand for instantaneous communication, retailers can maximize their potential and give themselves a definite edge in their industry.
Instant Communication and Adopting New Technologies
The technology we use often dictates communication speed and accuracy; a retailer relying on old, out-of-date POS software will not have access to the same level of data or the same speed of communication that a current POS system provides. Real-time POS systems aren’t merely a tool to increase the speed of communication–by receiving current data on their stock levels, merchants can adjust their inventory to ensure they never overstock or under stock certain items.
Whereas older POS systems may not have provided constantly updated information, leading to a breakdown in communication, new retail software has the ability to send instantaneous updates on stock levels, customer profiles, and more, giving merchants an edge over the competition. Knowledge is power, and new systems are built to provide maximum knowledge at the fastest speeds.
A Data-Driven Vendor-Retailer Relationship
While the electronic data interchange, or EDI, is crucial for providing merchants with information on their own customers, there are countless other implementations of this technology. Dealing with vendors presents a unique set of challenges, from selecting a vendor to choosing products to placing purchase orders at the right time so inventory levels are maintained. In years past, retailers would have to rely on faxes, phone calls, or emails to communicate with their vendors, and keeping a log of each vendors’ catalog and product information would be a time-consuming task. However, new analytic-driven software can track vendor performance, automate catalog imports, update product data and photos as new information is added by vendors, monitor inventory levels and send out purchase orders as necessary, and minimize the room for error.
The Advantage of Market Insights
Knowing the stats of your own business is one thing, but wouldn’t it be great to get information on the industry as a whole? New programs allow retailers to exchange their own sales data for aggregated market trends and information gathered from thousands of other merchants. In doing so, retailers can gain insight into their entire market, like which products are flying off the shelves in certain geographic areas, frequently purchased product combinations or up sell products, and seasonal fluctuations.
Making the Leap to Current Software
The digital age is upon us, and updating current retail systems to newer, more technologically advanced software can seem formidable at first. Though the older retail software may be comfortable and familiar, retailers shouldn’t be afraid to reach out of their comfort zone and adopt new systems of communication and POS software. The world is moving faster than ever, and running a data-driven business has never been more important to success in the retail industry.