“The impact of technology on customers is significant. Increasingly, they are walking around stores with smartphones, checking the best prices available. Historically, behaviour was driven by reputation that you would build over a period of time. Nowadays, it’s driven by truth.”
David Cheesewright, President & CEO, Walmart International
The recent demise of BHS and Austin Reed in the UK are stark reminders of the fate that can befall retailers who cannot meet the expectations of their customers or maintain relevance in the markets that they are supposed to serve. One was a traditional but neglected department store with a wide range of goods and the other a respected but dated upmarket gentlemen’s fashion retailer.
They join an ever growing graveyard of retail organisations failing to make the multi-channel grade, and failing to maintain relevance in today’s 24/7 retail bear pit that also now includes the Danish electrical chain, Fona.
So why for example can such as John Lewis succeed whilst BHS and RadioShack in the US, could not? Well it remains a sobering fact that the success of retail in these challenging times is determined in significant part by the manner in which they can create a joined up shopping experience which reflects and compliments, in-store, what the customers take for granted, online.
Creating a joined up shopping experience
The bricks and mortar store isn’t, of course, going away. Amazon’s recent launch into the “real world” is proof, if proof were needed, of that. Having said that, retail needs to wake up and smell the humus.
To reflect what looks good online, in-store needs a combination of elements to be in sync. Firstly, the technology needs to bring the digital journey in-store. The number of customer touchpoints across the omni channel store provides an enormous opportunity for that technology to be employed to engage with the consumer across the store, from the entrance though to the payment transaction.
Using technology effectively
To answer these challenge retailers need to ensure that they deploy technology in the most appropriate way to enhance the customer journey, assist their own staff’s productivity and provide the maximum return on investment – which means taking care of the security of the technology and ensuring that it is charged, available and practical to use, day in, day out.
Products such as the new Dock & Charge and Vario sled from Ergonomic Solutions do just that, and between them become the enabler of many of the customer engagement scenarios across the store. Flexibility is the key to optimising the use of the tablet, and few applications are solely static or entirely mobile.
SafeGuard Dock & Charge brings the best of both worlds. It is equally at ease in a static in-store ordering or stock/price look up environment as it is in a mobile queue busting or assisted sales application. Once returned to its dock, the device is automatically charged, as is any peripheral, such as a payment terminal. It is truly a multi-role enabler.
One key factor in the successful deployment of tablet technology is the issue of durability and reliability. The SlimCase Vario™ sled brings stability to mobile customer engagement tablet based applications that use consumer grade devices. Vario provides protection against everyday bumps and in combination with the OpenSpace range of accessories is the platform that turns a tablet into a solution. Its’ lightweight and discrete design also ensures that it provides an integration platform to which mobile payment devices can be added to create a truly mobile point of sale solution.
Tablets on their own are not a solution per se. When combined with the correct integration platform, they allow an organisation to deliver the customer experience that today’s consumer is beginning to expect. As Walmart’s CEO implied, the customer knows. To meet the challenge, the retailer must know too! Apps and tablets are the tools to do that. Sleds and enclosures from Ergonomic Solutions enable that to happen.