Commercial, Gunnebo Business Solutions, Gunnebo Retail Solution

NRF Expo: Innovation in Retail

The second day of NRF Expo’2019 was devoted to the changes the retail industry is facing these days and the novelties we are to expect in the nearest future. Brilliant speakers, including John Zavada from PETCO, Glenn Shoosmith from BookingBug, Phil Thompson form AWS, Linda Bustos from Skava, and others, shared their vision on how and why introduce innovation into the company’s processes.

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Their main message was: while everybody is talking about digitization, automation, ML, boundless stores, and omnichanelling, human interaction is still of the top priority for it causes and shapes all the changes.

Why Take Online Disruption Seriously

Few people today would object to the necessity of introducing technical innovations. At the same time, few as well understand that this implies a significant rethinking of cost components and budgets. As was mentioned by Sebastian Grady, president and COO of Rimini Street, today companies are still spending up to 90 % of their IT budgets on operating expenses, maintenance and support just “to keep the lights on”.

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So, while everybody is talking about innovation, it seems that quite often, businesses don’t take it seriously enough – and put themselves at risk. For keeping up technologically not just allows your business to stay competitive among other companies in your sector – it is if but the only way to retain customers who are aware of and willing to use new technologies.

Meet the Customers on Their Terms

Reducing friction points for consumers and serving for their convenience are the main reasons for digitization and automation in retail in today’s competitive environment.

Developing so-called boundless stores and omnichannel integration are the two strategies which experts recommend to pay attention to in 2019. Improving logistics (like same-day delivery or easy return) and strong reliance on data are the other things to keep in mind.

Though, accent on digital channels does not mean physical stores are to lose their relevance. People are still attracted to in-store visits and purchasing. People are attracted to brick-and-mortar stores by the social pleasure of personal experiences, human interaction and communication – that human touch which can’t be replaced by machines. Reimagining store functions supercharging staff with insights for better service were in the focus of the session by Glenn Shoosmith, CEO and Founder of BookingBug. Skilled, well-informed and enthusiastic staff empowered with digital support ensures clients get those exceptional experiences that encourage them to become return customers, the speaker stressed.

But what can be the trade in question? Many business owners are reluctant to innovations because of the expected costs. So, is it really necessary to invest huge sums into the development in order to bring digitization to your retail business?

Don’t Reinvent the Wheel

Though custom development has a lot of advantages, it is not necessary to address it any time you want to introduce IT innovations into your processes. Many services are available today from AWS, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud, and IBM Watson as ready-made units. Such big technology providers have more capacities and years of experience in the development of IT products, and cloud technologies make their implementation and maintenance rather easy and convenient.

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For example, Phil Thompson, industry CTO from AWS Retail team, introduced possibilities provided to retailers by AWS – and the list is impressive, indeed, including IoT, AI, and machine learning, all promising to ensure 50% greater forecast accuracy and store productivity.

Summing Up,

The statistics speaks for itself: 36% of retailers are considering introducing digitization and automation into their businesses in 2019. So, don’t miss the opportunity to stay competitive, join forces with fellow retailers, partner up with vendors and remember: where there is a wish, there is always a way!

If you are interested in hearing more about the future of retail, feel free to contact me at bjorn.nostdahl@gunnebo.com 🙂

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