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6 Ways to Organize the Chaos of Retail Technologies

Retail technologies

With the 2023 convention season underway, it can be challenging to digest all the information about emerging trends and technologies and their potential impact on your retail business. We’ve developed a useful six-point framework for organizing the chaos of retail technology and making sense of it all.

When you learn about a new technology or capability, consider how you might be able to implement it to achieve one (or more!) of the following goals:

  1. Boost store profitability. With challenging economic conditions, a priority for retailers is to increase profitability. That may require finding new revenue streams, such as monetizing store data or deploying a “Store as Media” model that uses digital advertising and precision marketing to engage customers and boost sales. Another option is to explore “do more with less” back-office automation apps, such as robotics process automation (RPA) that may effectively reduce operational costs with minimal expenses.

  2. Explore search, social and reputation management. All retailers today face declining “Share of Wallets,” and the need to find more wallets. Modest investments in digital marketing, like search optimization, paid social media and reputation management may lead to outsized returns. While these strategies are not new, technology solutions and tools that were once only accessible by large enterprises are now feasible for small to medium-sized retail businesses.

  3. Improve the employee experience. In a market where it continues to be hard to find, hire, and keep employees, efficient onboarding and enhanced employee engagement are competitive advantages. With higher wages, the challenge becomes increasing productivity while improving the employee experience. One solution is to digitize (even gamify) employee management efforts, such as using mobile task management apps, leaderboards and dashboards. You can leverage technology to simplify tasks as well as to magnify limited talent to operate at higher competency.

  4. Deploy dynamic pricing. While classic retail fundamentals are still in play (i.e., sell more stuff to more people), achieving profitability targets in depressed market conditions demands a more nuanced approach. For example, sell the same goods in a way that aligns dynamically with changing customer and store context, such as by time-of-day; based on traffic patterns; in response to customer demands; or to address employee labor requirements. Fully informed artificial intelligence and machine learning (AI/ML) pricing strategies can deliver innovative opportunities for greater profitability within the same retail environment.

  5. Manage risk. In addition to increasing revenues and reducing operational costs, profitability is also a matter of managing risk. With the probability and the cost of cyber-attacks escalating dramatically, retailers can no longer afford to ignore this unseen threat to the business. Doing so is the digital equivalent of leaving the store unlocked overnight. As with front line employees, cybersecurity talent is difficult to find and expensive to keep. The good news is that top Managed Security Service Providers (MSSPs) and innovators like Hughes can deliver the technologies to improve security operations, along with the expertise, resources and capabilities to manage risk by keeping pace with aggressive and relentless cyber criminals.

  6. Re-prioritize the customer experience. Ever-escalating customer expectations often correlate to escalating operational costs. It can be helpful to ask, “Do we have a precise understanding of what the customer doesn’t want?” This can identify products, services and efforts that may no longer be necessary.  Eliminating the unnecessary creates new capacity for doing the necessary.  Insights may also point to other strategies or approaches that may need to be added.

As you attend conferences and events this year and learn about new retail technologies, remember to look at them through the lens of how they can enable you to tackle challenges and achieve your important business objectives.