Digital transformation isn’t just a matter of urgency for retailers. It’s an emergency.

Call this declaration hyperbole if you like, but then look at the facts. Technology is transforming every aspect of business from the back office to the supply chain to the customer experience. Across all industries — such as healthcare, manufacturing, logistics and finance, to name a few — you see the most successful companies embracing end-to-end digital solutions. Digital maturity has emerged as a clear differentiator across a range of business sectors, according to a 2018 survey by Boston Consulting Group.

Retail is no different from other business sectors. Cloud-based analytics and artificial intelligence (AI) are beginning to infuse valuable insights that can improve retail store performance. Digitally mature retailers who know how to test and implement new technologies will only increase their advantage in the years ahead.

Digital technology was front and center at the recent NRF Big Show 2019 in New York City. Here’s a quick sampling of what is unfolding:

  • The use of AI and predictive analytics to improve demand forecasting, inventory management, store traffic analysis and more
  • The application of Google’s TensorFlow machine learning framework to improve the automation of product recommendation systems
  • The use of geolocation to enable automatic transmission of alerts and special offers to customers when they are near a store or restaurant
  • Enhancing the omnichannel experience through more comprehensive data collection, analysis and accurate real-time inventory
  • Transforming the fitting room experience through the use of AI, radio frequency identification (RFID) and augmented reality (AR)
  • Automating data collection throughout retail operations to simplify the creation of reports

With technology infusing every aspect of the brick-and-mortar retail business, digital maturity across the organization is a prerequisite for progress. Retailers need to build out their data management expertise, so they can become adept at collecting data, breaking down siloes, serving data to analytics engines and delivering rich insights to associates and managers.

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As with all things, practice makes perfect. Retailers need to get off the sidelines and begin designing new customer experiences and rolling out pilot programs to support them. The most forward-thinking retailers are already digitally mature; doing nothing is no longer an option.

One way to move forward is to form strategic partnerships. At Samsung Business USA, we are innovation specialists who are ready to help. You might think of us simply as manufacturers of smartphones, tablets and smartwatches — which, of course, we are — but we are first and foremost innovators who understand our B2B customers’ challenges. Businesses who partner with us gain access to the creative, strategic thinking that has crafted our connected Galaxy of devices, appliances and displays. With our extensive group of solution providers, retail partnerships and open OS, we’ve helped plan transformations, build roadmaps and support implementations.

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In retail, we have a macro-vision of data-driven stores where the retail associate is equipped to deliver experiences by leveraging a mobile device that serves as the intelligent and versatile endpoint. With a single device in hand, any associate can access the same knowledge, so they can hit the ground running from day one on the job. Moreover, they can complete the entire sales process from stocking and inventory management to assisting customers and accepting payment, right there on the store floor.

Associates have access to relevant, contextual information on their device, allowing them to serve the customer’s entire journey, including any research the customer has already done prior to entering the store. Associates can provide fast, satisfying service and pivot to upselling and cross-selling based on the customer’s preferences and situational information.

As voice capabilities improve, devices will be able to serve up the best answer for the associate without keyboard input. Associates may also speak into an app when they have stocking suggestions or special requests, so the store can run data analyses and fulfill the most common requests. Voice is poised to unlock a wealth of opportunities for real-time search and fulfilment.

These are just a few examples of how digital transformation can turn a brick-and-mortar retail store into a digitally fluent, highly efficient sales machine. Every retailer will recognize different opportunities to reimagine their operations and processes using the power of digital devices and applications. A technology partner can help you explore opportunities and home in on your ideal strategy.

If I can leave you with one succinct takeaway, let it be this: Be the driving force for digital transformation in your company, and start by empowering your associates. They are the ones who deliver on the brand promise that your mobile infrastructure enables. Equip them with versatile mobile devices that will help them excel at customer service, and you can create exceptional, repeatable and scalable customer experiences across all your stores — even with novice associates.

We would be delighted to help you create an affordable plan that improves efficiencies, reduces costs, drives sales and enhances employee effectiveness — while also reducing employee turnover.

Learn how you can improve retail associate performance with data and mobile devices.

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Ian Hutchinson

Ian Hutchinson leads Samsung’s Business Development efforts for the retail vertical and is currently focused on the strategy and go-to-market for Connected Pop Ups. He is passionate about enabling enterprises to move the needle with their customers by applying unique technology solutions. He holds multiple U.S. and International patents in the field of interactive spaces. When He is not opening Pop Ups, he is a lead facilitator in the Mobile Innovation Workshops for Samsung enterprise customers.  

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