Retail is an industry that is under constant pressure to change, transform and innovate, those retailers that do not focus on this inevitably risk their position in the market place. The use of digital technologies must be at the heart of the transformation with customers and consumers of services demanding more from technologies to put them at the centre of the “customer experience” being specific to their needs and dealing with them on their terms. There is a heavy emphasis on technology driving the retail business from the “back end” administration and operations but also technology empowering sales associates at the “front end.”

Microsoft themselves recognise that there is a market being neglected in the “front end” that is sales associates that have not typically had access to a typical PC still company and customer specific information in a timely and appropriate manner. It is recognised that without central IT providing these systems to Sales associates then “Shadow IT” becomes a problem with users turning to external platforms like WhatsApp and Facebook for communication.

Data and business intelligence is also being highlighted as a major focus for retailers that are looking to ensure that every point and every occasion they are able to be relevant to the customer and consumer to ensure they have the best chances to secure business.
In the recent PWC Whitepaper, 39% of retailers ranked ‘Ability to turn customer data into intelligent and actionable insight’ as a number 1 challenge, this highlights that the data that is being captured by retail systems is not being put to effective use.

Sector Challenges

Cost saving

In a time where market uncertainty is high, organisations seek to lower risk by saving costs and becoming more efficient.

Device Choice

Depending on role, retail employees may need to work on a phone, tablet, desktop or a mixture of the above. Retailers must have the infrastructure to enable employees to access files from anywhere.

Multi-channel communication

Consumers want to interact with a brand through multiple channels and platforms. Retails need to keep up to maintain market share.

Cyber Security

With many high profile breaches in the media and the rise of GDPR, security must be embedded as a priority to users and technical staff, to minimize the risk of a breach.

Analysing data

Data should be made securely accessible to all employees who need it to improve services, from sales associates, to marketing there is much insight to be gained from examining existing data held by retailers.

Collaborative working

Working across multiple store locations, brands or employees is paramount to ensuring consistency of service. Collaboration tools are a priority for retailers.

risual Services to Retail

Digitally Enabled Retail

At risual we believe that positive digital transformation for the Retail industry can come from three transformational pillars. The ability to enhance Retail infrastructure operations and supply chain processes. The empowerment of the Retail frontline sales associates and back office workforce to be customer centric, informed and productive in their duties. The ability to have customer experience and loyalty being driven by omnichannel interaction and engagement with key collaborative partners and suppliers as well as consumers of product or service offerings.

Empowered Retail Sales Associates

Empowering the workforce with a computing strategy that allows sales associates to have an optimised engagement with their customers. This solution provides a framework for optimised computing for Retail companies. End User Computing will determine user profiles and needs for computing access, from identity for security and applications to needs of flexible mobile computing in the office or onsite with customers or service partners.

Cloud Ready Data Centre

Helping organisations to optimise cloud based services to enhance current infrastructure workloads, storage, archiving and back up needs, taking into consideration compliance governance and legal requirements for archiving data.

Specifically, for Retail the Azure platform be a way of coping with trading spikes in year or to help give extra power to processing data at times where promotions or activity needs attention. Additionally, some of the tools in the Azure platform can be invaluable to retailers where they may want to utilise social media outreach to offer sentiment of certain promotions that may be released or generally sentiment on how the brand is being perceived.

Customer Experience

Targeted specifically at retailers, Akin has been developed with customer experience and omnichannel customer engagement in mind, based on Microsoft cloud technologies Akin offers a platform for mobile interaction, personalised service delivery, Loyalty and rewards and enhanced retail shopping experience.

In addition to Akin, risual have many engagements that could be utilised in a retail environment for Dynamics CRM 365. Including CRM for Sales, Marketing and Case management.

Digital Skills

Across UK businesses there is a need to accelerate digital skills and competencies – Digital Transformation for the most part requires digital skills to be successful and Digital Skills with dictate and maintain Digital Transformation. I would recommend a specific and aligned campaign to “digitally enabled business” with our risual education offerings. I would recommend specific reference to the recent BEIS white paper where people and skills are one of the five foundations aligning to a vision for a transformed economy.

Attention should also be given to frontline workers and sales assistants in Retail those that are mainly mobile or do not typically have access to a PC or device and how they feel included in the use of technology and the skills to do so. In the recent PWC “total retail” whitepaper investing in talent was one of the key components of the recommendations mainly because if was seen that “quality store associates versed in technology and relevant product knowledge had become a real differentiator for the store experience”

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