5 Positive Ways Technology Redefines Retail For Customers

Joerg Koesters

For most of us, daily life has become more complex than ever. One outward sign of this is the ever-increasing number and variety of mobile devices. People are using their mobile devices to connect with work, home, and the world. It is one of the many complexities redefining the world of retail.

Meanwhile, the 9-to-5 workday is disappearing. Many employers now expect employees to be reachable far beyond their assigned hours. But we all want — and need — downtime for sleep and activities like workouts, reading, and spending time with friends and family. So we shop online instead of spending hours at the local mall. Another plus: Shopping online gives us access to a greater variety of choices.

Forbes magazine reported in January that mobile commerce has become a “mega-trend” in retail. This year, according to Forbes, many retailers will need to restructure their sales strategies as online sales increased by about 23% in 2015 and are likely to increase at that pace again in 2016.

Ways digital technology reaches customers

Many marketing channels exist for the purpose of reaching customers. These include traditional channels such as printed direct mail and broadcast advertising, as well as new ones enabled by the Internet and mobile devices.

Customers expect a unified experience across all a retailer’s channels. They expect the brand to be recognizable and products easy to access, whether online or in stores. If online presentation is not smooth, they will switch to a different site.

5 ways retailers use digital to please customers

Busy, hyperconnected customers are shaping the development of retail technology. But even connected customers still want personal experiences, and they want to feel confident that their needs are being met.

Here are five examples of how retailers have adopted digital solutions to satisfy customers.

One-stop home improvement at ABYAT

Going digital does not mean giving up on people-to-people interaction. ABYAT, a home improvement chain in Kuwait and the Arabian Gulf region, offers homeowners and contractors everything from custom ceilings to plumbing materials. The company’s mission is to provide all the products a customer needs to create a comfortable home under one roof.

Yet ABYAT sells so many products that customers found themselves spending too much time tracking everything they needed. To address this, ABYAT now uses technology to speed up in-store shopping.

Now sales staff members walk through the store with customers, tracking stock and placing the customers’ orders on mobile devices. A digital platform enables ABYAT employees to provide rapid, personalized service.

Personalized service at Chico’s

In its article “Hyperconnected Retail,” The Economist reports, “Digital is not simply a new sales channel but also a platform for a more harmonized shopping experience.”

The Economist notes that customers like to “click and collect.” After buying an item online, they may have it delivered by mail. However, many like to have the option of picking up their purchases at a retailer’s brick-and-mortar store.

Customers of women’s clothing retailer Chico’s can purchase items online from a computer or mobile device, go to a Chico’s store, and find their items waiting in a dressing room.

Omnichannel shopping with Adidas

Adidas is a long-time manufacturer of sports shoes and apparel that communicates with customers in many ways to reach the broadest market possible.

Each digital tool that connects customers with Adidas is considered a valuable channel or consumer touchpoint. To manage all these channels for omnicommerce, Adidas uses the digital management platform SAP HANA.

The platform also supports the SAP Fashion Management application, which Adidas also uses. This app brings together the company’s manufacturing, wholesale, and retail operations for easier sharing and analysis of data in real time. This helps Adidas better anticipate customer demand.

Speedy order fulfillment at Harry & David’s

Consumers expect the items they order to be shipped promptly and to arrive in great condition. This is especially crucial when it comes to fresh foods.

Harry & David’s is an Oregon retailer that sells gift packages of fruit and snacks. During the holidays the company ships up to 300,000 packages each day, comprising 70% of the company’s business.

To maintain growth while maintaining excellent quality and fast delivery, Harry & David’s consolidated management of its manufacturing, warehousing, and supply chain processes. The company replaced three different product management software applications with one tool that performs all the functions it requires: SAP Extended Warehouse Management.

Fast fashion with safer manufacturing

Customers want a smooth, efficient shopping experience, but they also want production of the goods they buy to be ethical. Mobile technology and Internet-connected objects such as sensors have changed how retailers operate in this area.

When reports of dangerous working conditions in manufacturing came to light, consumers spoke up. Retailers began exploring ways to track working conditions in plants located far from company headquarters.

As Britannia Garment Packaging notes, effective digital supply chain management gives manufacturers the real-time information they need to improve work facilities. This developing capability will please all consumers (even those who don’t like to shop) who care about labor conditions.

Learn more about Digital Transformation for Retail at Retail. Reimagined for the new economy.

About Joerg Koesters

Joerg Koesters is the Head of Retail Marketing and Communication at SAP. He is a Technology Marketing executive with 20 years of experience in Marketing, Sales and Consulting, Joerg has deep knowledge in retail and consumer products having worked both in the industry and in the technology sector.