The only thing that is constant is change. This ancient Greek proverb also applies to the retail sector. On the one hand, retailers face increasing pressure from online shops and have to implement innovative business ideas to safeguard the success of their outlets. On the other hand, it is the customers themselves who are nowadays making completely new demands of retailers.
Digitalization offers opportunities for all areas of retail
Digitalization entails changes to headquarters and stores, as well as to retail logistics. All sales and administration processes converge at headquarters. If processes are impeded here, there is a downstream impact on the logistics and stores, with negative consequences for customers. One typical problem, for example, is that customer service is unable to provide assistance quickly enough. Or inquiries and tasks cannot be completed, because companies don't have enough trained staff. Stores, in contrast, are the calling cards for retailers. Likewise, having that "special" shopping experience continues to gain in importance among store visitors. Only if this is right, the customers like to come back again and again. A key prerequisite for this is logistics processes which run smoothly in the background. Empty shelves in stores, days spent waiting for ordered products, delivery of damaged goods – these are all things that can make customers dissatisfied. Flexible, digitally connected logistics processes help to continually check the quality of goods and services. They make it possible to optimize stock keeping and cut costs. In modern retail, digital solutions ensure seamless interaction between logistics, headquarters, online and physical outlets. The latest technologies, such as artificial intelligence, big data analytics (in German), 5G, blockchain, the Internet of Things, and cybersecurity all support the digital transformation of the industry.
A unique shopping experience thanks to digital solutions
Today, when nearly everyone has a smartphone, you'll hardly find any customers who gather information about products exclusively in store. The use of mobile devices for research is continually on the rise. Customers in the year 2020 are online – and increasingly influenced by other consumers' experiences. Today's shopping experience usually starts at home on the couch. At this point, customers often have a look around the retailer's online shop. They get an impression of the range of products on offer long before they visit a physical store. This alone is reason enough for bricks-and-mortar retailers to leverage the benefits of their outlets with a digital world of experience. What's more, customers will have increasing influence on product development in the future – making it all the more important to communicate with them, particularly across multiple sales channels.
Smart retail with solutions by Deutsche Telekom
In the future, retailers will have to respond even more flexibly to rapidly evolving customer needs and quick-changing trends. New, enhanced business models are opening up and retailers can't afford to ignore them.
To meet the growing needs of consumers, bricks-and-mortar retailers have to upgrade their stores with digital solutions. Competition online has a particular lead when it comes to data and analytics (in German), because customers' data can be recorded in far more detail. As a result, retailers have to pursue an omnichannel strategy if they want their shopping experience to live up to demanding consumer behavior patterns and ensure their future. What's more, customers place high demands on increasingly smart retail processes. As mobile devices continue to grow in popularity, it is increasingly obvious that retailers have to offer options for payment via smartphone or smart watch (in German). And if the device battery or mobile internet connection dies, retailers can provide help with smartphone charging stations and in-store WiFi. Digital terminals (in German) for retrieving product information and self-checkout will also help to meet customer demands for instant information and swift payment at the till. To make sure the trip to the store won't be in vain, customers want to check inventories online. As a result, in-store shopping can become a pleasure, not a burden.
By combining real, perceptible products with high-quality service and a digital world of experience, stores can offer the best of both worlds. Connected technologies form the foundation of smart retail – and Deutsche Telekom has them.
By connecting stores with ultramodern LAN services and WiFi networks, retailers can communicate with their customers and link up their electronic devices and solutions. Deutsche Telekom takes care of the planning, installation, and management of the network.
IoT solutions make it possible to network all of a store's equipment. They can monitor devices and send alerts when critical states occur – for example, when temperatures decrease or refrigeration equipment in the chill chain fails, the reverse vending machine for empties fills up, or trash cans are overflowing. The Internet of Things offers solutions that can guarantee customer satisfaction and smoothly-running retail store operations.