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The future of retail is upon us: are you ready?

Digitalisation, omni-channel, IoT. The future of retail is happening. Right here, right now. There is a lot of talk in the industry of retail about truly moving with the times and ‘getting ahead’ yet we know, so many retailers are skipping ahead, jumping forward and ignoring the basics, and at times, being dragged, kicking and screaming, into technological advances they simply just don’t feel at ease to get on board with.

Take social media as a key example. A recent survey conducted by Cybertill showed that just 8% of the top 50 retailers in the UK had got onboard with the brand new ‘Shop Now’ function with Instagram and those included Screwfix, Missguided and River Island. The platform offered this function as a free addition to those who have a business profile and product stored on their Facebook page. 

When cloud technology was introduced into the UK retail market in 2001, we broke the mould and for those renegades who dared to take a punt with us we can, in the whole, say that it did work out. These forward thinkers have moved with us and have adapted the tech to suit the changing needs of the consumer and have had a working, real-time single view of stock and customer for years.

Take Neal’s Yard Remedies for example. A brand built on organic and ethical skincare and now harnessing their Cybertill tech to host pop-ups, such as their appearance at Wilderness Festival. Their bedouin tent, adorned with paisley bunting, violet and blue florals and a full range of testers, made for the brand experience they desired, while expert ‘brand ambassadors’ gave insight and service and digital aisles closed the loop allowing festival-goers to shop the product and get it delivered to home. A win win if you ask me.

In the next five years, bricks and mortar stores will increasingly become places where brands interact, entertain and develop trust. The physical store will also become a place to levy the power of a single view of stock and customer data. More shops will use digital aisles like Neal’s Yard Remedies to increase choice in-store but also offer convenience by using a mobile point of sale to transact away from a fixed till.

Delivery to home or in-store with an exact date and time will meet the desires of the Millennial and Gen Z customer. It’s happening now. Stores such as Topshop and Schuh already do this and with data becoming more sophisticated with the introduction of new style kiosks and mobile order, many more will follow.

The future will definitely see a sure in customer-centricity, giving the consumer even more of a reason to be loyal-whether that be price, convenience or cache will be key. Smart, customer-centric, and transparent data capture will be the best way to achieve this and for bricks and mortar retailers to take a serious look at their e-commerce to really leverage its power.

Turning brand loyalty into return customers takes more finesse than many retailers are able to pull off. As a result, it will be interesting to see which brands thrive in the post-GDPR environment, and which don't.

A few disrupters are shaping the way of things to come and the future will only see more and more happening to digitise the store, and indeed the idea of the point of sale/service. A single view of data, stock and a connected system is key to making this work for those retailers whom want to attempt it.

Integration and a true omni-channel approach is the only way to harness the power of what truly makes the modern EPoS ring.

RBTE takes place at London’s Olympia, 2-3 May 2018.

You can register to attend here: http://bit.ly/RBTE18_ER

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