5 IT Tools for the Retail Business
16.11.2016 7191

5 IT Tools for the Retail Business

Just a few years ago, domestic retailers from the whole variety of IT solutions used exclusively logistics, warehouse accounting and data storage systems, which made it possible to increase the efficiency of the sales department. Currently, increased competition among sellers against the backdrop of crisis expectations of buyers forces the first to look for new ways to fight for the customer. Therefore, such options as business analytics, cloud services, omni channels, etc. are becoming increasingly relevant. Almost the entire business of network retail companies today is not only tightly connected with IT, but also integrated into it.

Business analytics

According to experts, the total amount of information on the globe doubles annually. The same can be said of retail. Companies have to deal with an enormous amount of information - real-time data on sales, product availability in warehouses and retail outlets, information on prices and their changes, customer information and much more. According to Dmitry Tokar from CROC Such a volume of information for a company is both great complexity and huge opportunities. “The difficulty is that it is almost impossible to understand the data without professional business intelligence systems. However, with the help of modern solutions of the BI (Business Intelligence) class, it is possible to make forecasts for the movement of products, develop a variety of loyalty programs and stimulate demand. Nevertheless, not every retailer uses these opportunities today. And this is despite the fact that most of the BI systems from well-known world leaders (such as Oracle, SAP, IBM, Microsoft, etc.) have long been available on the Russian market ... "

Pay by phone Pay by phone
But one should not forget about online sales, for which such "intelligent" business systems are necessary as air. After all, it was they who should be able to draw up an individual profile of each buyer, predict his behavior when choosing things and shopping, and, of course, make him individual offers that he will not be able to refuse. Ideally, such systems should have tight integration with social networks, which will allow sellers not only to automatically send the customer an offer with an individual “birthday” discount, but also by analyzing his list of interests, geolocation locations and travel routes, make up a wish list for him. And it is unobtrusive to offer him something to buy from this wish-list at the right time. At the same time, it is extremely important to use the most convenient communication channel for the client - SMS, phone call with an offer, email or even a letter by mail. Otherwise, you will receive a guaranteed rejection!

Integrated sales, or omni-channel service

Multichannel or integrated sales is a deeply integrated approach to creating a consumer experience through all available sales and communication channels: physical points of sale, the Internet, mobile devices, television and the media, direct mail, etc. In the last couple of years, omni-channel has become extremely hot and hot topic. Unfortunately, this innovation has not yet really taken root in domestic retail, since its successful implementation requires the integration of several sales channels and related information systems. So what is this? “The essence of the omni-channel concept is customer satisfaction here and now. In most cases, the desire of a particular person arises on the basis of public opinion. A person receives a signal about a product through the channel in the zone of influence of which he finds himself. Having received a signal, a person seeks to satisfy his desire as quickly as possible, cheaper and better. Accordingly, the task of trading is to maximally satisfy the desire of a potential client, - explains Sanjay Sauldi, Director of the European Academy of Internet Marketing, a renowned specialist in the field of Internet marketing. - With this in mind, omnichannel retail involves ensuring “seamless” integrated trading through all available sales channels, whether it’s an offline store, an online store, sales via mobile devices, sales via social networks, by phone or other other possible means. At the same time, the consumer should not feel the difference in the channels, purchasing goods in the way that is convenient for him at the moment, receiving and returning, if necessary, the goods where he is more comfortable ... "

This approach implies that, for example, by logging into Facebook in the morning using a laptop, you saw a pair of excellent boots on the link of the online store and placed an order; On the way to work, they decided that it was necessary to add a brush and shoe polish to the order and did it using a smartphone. After that, the office paid for the order webmoney from their virtual account, and in the evening on the way home they took their order in a special cell in the nearest supermarket. The main idea of ​​this technology is to simplify communication between the service provider and the buyer, getting rid of the payment of unnecessary retail space, warehouses, etc.

“Omni-channel retail is simply not possible without a perfectly streamlined inventory management and distribution system,” warns Sanjay Sauldi. - This is due to the fact that, when delivering goods to a regular store, you are working with goods that should be in demand. And online you deliver goods that have already been purchased by the customer, and his expectations for delivery quality are much higher than the expectations of a faceless store. From this point of view, supply chain management is becoming not only more complex, but also more responsible. The client must receive the goods with the level of service that you guaranteed him from the beginning. The most important disappointment of the client is if he ordered, but he was not delivered or delivered at the wrong time. One of the biggest mistakes omnichannel marketing market is ignoring the importance of logistics! ”

Therefore, in order to ensure efficient operation via omi channels, domestic retailers must implement an IT solution that should automate their business, on the one hand, ensuring that potential customers receive the necessary product information through all possible communication channels (via the website, mobile application, Facebook , Instagram, etc.), the ability to order the necessary goods using any of these channels, then pay (by card, from your phone account, virtual money, etc.) and receive a purchase (by courier or pick up comfortable place). The implementation of such a project is quite time-consuming and costly, but according to US retailers, the successful implementation of omni-channel increases the sales volume by 3-4 times. At the same time, millions of dollars spent by a large company on a project may turn out to be ineffective in comparison with low-budget projects of small companies. “The secret to success is creativity,” Sanjay Sauldi advises. - If you are creative, you will always win. And if you have only money, you are unlikely to succeed. As a rule, simple solutions are of the highest quality and most affordable. In most cases, you can limit yourself to a small setup of the business process ... "

RFID Technology

RFID technology (Radio frequency identification, radio frequency identification) is one of the most promising IT solutions today. It allows, through the use of radio frequency tags, to identify certain goods and control their movements. Thanks to this, the seller is able to control the entire supply chain - from production to delivery to the consumer, while protecting the goods from theft. But the advantages of the technology are not limited to this. For example, by using RFID tags, sellers can make it as easy as possible for a buyer to buy goods in a store. The buyer simply types everything he needs into the basket (or even immediately into packages), at the exit from the store, a special device instantly scans all the tags and displays the total amount of the purchase. After that, the buyer can pay for the goods in any way convenient for him (by credit card, cash, using a special application for a smartphone, etc.). By the way, retail market experts claim that the American company Alien Technology implemented a similar pilot project for X5 a couple of years ago, but the technology has not yet been widely introduced. Most likely, retailers are stopped by the relatively high cost of RFID tags.

RFID Technology RFID Technology

“The cost of tags and equipment has been declining over the past 5 years. Tags are from 3,5 p. (China), against 16 p. in 2010 year. Equipment fell by 30-40%. Cost is not high or low. One should ask: “Is technology paying off in our business or not?” The technology can be used partially, where it is profitable. No need to use everywhere and throughout the assortment. The state is now actively involved in the implementation of RFID technologies. For example, the Ministry of Industry and Trade of the Russian Federation is implementing a research project on the introduction of mandatory labeling of light industry products with RFID tags. In Belarus, compulsory labeling in the "Shoes" category is valid. They are interested in expanding the practice to the entire Customs Union. The Eurasian Economic Commission has decided to introduce mandatory marking of fur products in the territory of the countries of the Customs Union in the 2015 year ... ”, commented Vladimir Komolov, Development Director, Shop of the Future. What will happen next? Time will tell!

Increased mobility

Every customer who visits the store has a smartphone or tablet with them. But this is a real "digital mobile terminal." By scanning the QR code, the client gets access to objective product reviews, expert recommendations, which works much better than an advertising message. However, it is logical to use this mobile device not only as a channel for sending personalized offers to the client (as we wrote above), but also use it to pay for the purchase. “A smartphone is a customer service tool in a store. Using our special application on your smartphone, you can select a product and add it to the basket. Product entry is possible through scanning a bar code, entering an article or product name. Indicate the required quantity of goods, if necessary, attach a customer loyalty card and place an order. Moreover, the order is transformed into an 1С check with the same number, so you will not have problems with reporting ... ”, explains Evgeny Bakhin, Inventive Retail Group. A smartphone with support for NFC technology can even pay for goods at the checkout in one touch, which means that the waiting time in the queue is reduced. In the coming years, self-service systems (Self-Ckeckout, Self-Checkout Convertible, etc.), electronic price tags, self-service scales with a touch monitor, “smart” shelves and carts will be massively introduced. Another innovation is considered to be “digital price tags”, which are able to automatically adjust prices for goods with expiring expiration dates, inform customers about new products and additional discounts. The introduction of self-service technologies in trade is considered in the West as one of the most effective methods of dealing with queues.

By introducing self-service systems, the retailer reduces queues and the loss of valuable time; increases the throughput of cash lines, attracts new ones and increases the loyalty of regular customers, improves the quality of service; optimizes the sales area, cash line and personnel; able to flexibly extend the opening hours of a shopping store and optimize staff work. And, best of all, such self-service systems are characterized by a high return on investment and a quick return on investment (usually within 1,5-2,5 years), as evidenced by international experience.

Full interactivity

Among the new opportunities for retail, it is worth noting the transformation of sales staff into personal cashiers, which allows you to avoid tedious lines at the cash desk and complete your shopping trip as quickly as possible. This technology has already been successfully tested by Apple and works in all its retail stores. At the same time, each seller has the opportunity to see stocks in real time, so that he immediately learns whether this product is available in this store or at the nearest outlet. Then, through his mobile terminal, he can rent your bank card, and then issue a purchase with a cashier's check.

Some companies have already begun to use indoor geolocation technologies. The information about where and when the goods were put in the basket or, more importantly, laid out of it, is truly invaluable to retailers and producers of consumer goods. Knowing the ways of the buyer’s movement through a huge hypermarket, one can completely plan the display of goods at a completely different qualitative level, select the desired shelf. Using Media Cart technology (with a system of sensors, sensors and a screen), Media Cart can not only collect analytical information, but also make targeted offers to the customer, depending on where in the store he is. It is enough for the client to approach a certain point of the store, when a profitable offer appears on the screen (mounted either on a trolley or on the wall), made taking into account his preferences and tastes. This is much more effective than traditional advertising, since more than 70% of purchase decisions are made directly at points of sale. By the way, the Chinese company SK Telecom even equipped its “smart carts” with an electronic shopping list. The device is able to synchronize with the buyer’s smartphone, suggest the location of certain goods, talk about discounts and special promotions and give detailed information about each product.

Since buyers almost ceased to react even to the most enticing static ads in stores, Western retailers began to use the so-called “virtual promoters”. They are obtained by projecting special content (including using 3D graphics) onto the rear projection screen. Such interactive "consultants" are able to work perfectly on brand recognition, and at the same time they have neither holidays nor weekends. Another plus of this technology is that the system responds to the proximity of the buyer and turns on only then, which can significantly save energy.

Another interesting approach is “virtual fitting rooms” or “augmented reality technology”. The camcorder scans the external parameters of the client in 3D, and the smart system offers three-dimensional clothing models that fit the figure. This technology allows you to quickly determine what exactly is suitable for the buyer, which increases the patency of the fitting rooms and reduces the average time of one purchase, which leads to a significant increase in turnover. This service was first offered at Philadelphia Airport in 2005. Intellifit created a kiosk where measurements were taken from the customer within 10 seconds (more than 200 000 parameters), based on which styles and clothing sizes were selected from the database of well-known brands.

What prevents the implementation of such innovations in retail? “It is often expensive, and the expected effect is not obvious and there may be no short-term return. There is an opinion that in Europe and the USA companies are fighting for 2% of profits, and in Russia less than 10% do not want to work. That is why retailers are in no hurry to “throw away” money on innovations and do not want to take risks and introduce promising technologies, preferring to learn from other people's mistakes and use only proven technologies ... ", Vladimir Sologubov sums up.

Just a few years ago, domestic retailers from the whole variety of IT solutions used exclusively logistics, warehouse accounting and data storage systems, which allowed to increase ...
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