It’s time for retailers to stop viewing digital connectivity as a necessary, but annoying, drain on budgets and resources. Used correctly, digital connectivity can help a retailer enhance the trajectory of their business, powering it into a higher orbit complete with greater innovation, improved customer experience and increased margins.
Here are ten ways retailers can transform their digital backbone and start to reap the benefits of enhanced connectivity:
Enable increased customer engagement on premises
Today’s ‘always on’ shoppers expect to be able to access the internet wherever they may be. The challenge to retailers is how to make customer interaction a more personalised experience for consumers. To achieve that, they need to enable staff to have the right technology to provide the highest standards of customer service - and ensure that customers are directed to the right place to browse and complete purchases. To drive customer engagement on premises, brands face the challenge of being able to provide customers with fast, reliable and secure Wi-Fi connectivity that enables them to not only browse on the store’s website while on premises but also access their favourite websites and apps.
Ensure your payments are customer focused
Customers across the retail sector hate queues. Long wait times at the checkout trigger sales abandonment, erode customer loyalty and ultimately hit your bottom line. That’s why more and more retailers are looking to harness the latest customer-focused payment solutions to speed customers through checkout, making the experience as frictionless and pain-free as possible. Next generation payment solutions include mobile epos, in-aisle payment apps, digital wallets and scan-and-go technology.
Ensure visibility of your network performance
The failure of a digital network can be very expensive for a retailer – not least when you consider the value of missed sales and the subsequent erosion of brand loyalty. The fast pace of modern commerce means that businesses need greater visibility and control of their network’s performance and an early warning if disaster is about to strike. Active network monitoring does all of this and more by executing real-time testing of network infrastructure making sure it is performing as expected. Active tests report real-time data reachability, packet loss, jitter, bandwidth and HTTP response time to enable brands to take remedial action when problems occur.
Time to get personal
Consumers have experienced highly personalised shopping experiences online and are now generally fed up of being treated like strangers in-store. In response, forward-looking bricks-and-mortar retailers are adopting a range of emerging solutions to address this challenge. These range from data-rich and highly personalised clienteling, to RFID tagging and social Wi-Fi. However, if these solutions are to deliver the data-rich insights customers desire, they need to be supported by robust and secure network connectivity capable of handling large volumes of data at high speed.
Digital support for sales assistants anywhere on premises
Personalisation and clienteling are generally held up as the pinnacle of in-store customer experience but achieving them is virtually impossible without a Wi-Fi enabled digital device to deliver data-rich customer insights. While it is vital that Wi-Fi networks are robust and reliable enough to ensure the best customer experience, they also need to be secure to avoid the risks of external access by hackers.
Make sure networks meet current and future needs
Retailers simply can’t stand still, given the ever-changing needs of customers and the highly competitive retail and hospitality landscape. They also need to do some crystal ball gazing, ensuring that their networks are fit for purpose today, but can also support their operations in the future. The flexible and scalable nature of cloud computing’s microservices architecture make it a perfect solution for built-in network longevity.
Deploy one IT infrastructure for multiple brands
For larger organisations with multiple brands, the challenge is to ensure that networks are integrated and enable sharing of data, infrastructure and resources. But individual brands also need the flexibility to operate independently to identify and pursue new business opportunities, as well as react to changing customer demands. It is vital that the network infrastructure is balanced to meet both the current and future aspirations of the business, particularly when international expansion may be on the agenda. This is key to help to keep costs low and build enhanced customer experiences.
Ensure your network is fully supported 24/7
For any brand, IT network downtime almost certainly leads to lost sales, eroded customer loyalty and reputational damage. It is vital that the right levels of IT support are available 24/7, ensuring that operations and customer experience are never interrupted. A fully managed network also liberates in-house IT teams to focus on value-added tasks rather than business as usual, freeing them to concentrate on profitable innovation.
Double down on security – ensure your Wi-Fi is hacker-proof
Having staff equipped with tablets to help advise and serve customers is becoming more prevalent. Mobile point of sale is a sure-fire way to bust costly queues and keep your customers happy. Clienteling is also great way to deliver personalised shopping experiences. However, both of these trends come with some significant safety warnings. It is vital that Wi-Fi networks are robust and reliable enough to ensure the best customer experience, they also need to be secure enough to avoid the risks of a breach by hackers.
Integrate on-premises and online operations
Customers are increasingly seeking seamless interaction with retailers and brands, whether they are on their premises or online. The challenge for today’s multichannel brands is to have reliable and secure networks to manage their businesses, transferring data between head office and stores, while also ensuring that customers can browse and shop their products online – even when they’re on their premises.
For more ways to boost connectivity at your retail or hospitality business, download our Connecting Brands report now.
Paul Leybourne, Head of Sales, Vodat International
Image Credit: WNDJ / Pixabay