We’re living in a world of integrated retail, and I believe this trend is neatly illustrated by the recent wave of online pureplays opening physical stores around the world.

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Online fashion houses, furniture eCommerce companies and mail order businesses are among the organisations opening stores – and even the mighty Amazon is playing in the physical space thanks to its innovative bookstores and acquisition of Whole Foods.

For me, this is a sure sign that integrated retail – the merging of bricks and clicks – is the most suitable model for the wider industry. Yes, there’ll be a minority of retailers that only want to sell online, and those which sell solely via shops, but success for the majority will lie in a combination of the two.

Against this backdrop, there’s a real opportunity for like-minded technology companies to work together to serve the retail industry – and ramp up their own revenues in the process.

There’s A Market For It

In Europe, one of the online retailers opening stores that has caught my eye is young fashion brand Missguided.

It has opened its shops with a digital twist – ensuring the impressive social interaction and user-generated content built online is distinctly represented in the physical space.

Likewise, in South Africa, online kitchen and housewares retailer Yuppiechef opened its first store in October, arguing that the future of retail is omnichannel. One digital feature implemented in the shop sees online customer reviews embedded in the price label.

A common feature of these companies’ approach to store retailing, I believe, is the array of eCommerce integration features. Software companies should be highlighting these benefits to the wider retail industry, and encouraging retailers to adopt similar methods when building their integrated retail empires, fit for an omnichannel world.

To aid them on this journey software businesses need to be working with retail technology partners that provide solutions which easily connect to a range of other systems.

Beating The Drum For Ecommerce Integration

In November alone, mail order businesses Boden and Joe Browns unveiled their first brick-and-mortar operations in the UK – entering the scene with extensive customer records built up online over time. If they adopt the correct eCommerce integration in their new store environments, they’ll be in a position of strength from which to maintain the personalised customer service they developed in their old worlds.

We as a technology community need to work together to emphasise the message that integrated retail systems which combine store and eCommerce data – be it customer information or stock inventory – enable organisations to deliver great service and to grow.

If we can get retailers on an upward trajectory, they are more likely to further invest in technology, turning to the suppliers that helped them achieve their initial goals. It’s as simple as that.

Here at iVend Retail we provide out-of-the box integrated suites that connect easily to retailers’ core systems and other existing solutions to help bring success to organisations of all types. Our reseller partners are delivering what today’s organisations are seeking, and we’re looking to build more software partnerships.

The online players and mail order firms embarking on new adventures in store retailing may think they have stolen a march on rivals – there’s no doubt they set a good example – but similarly-minded tech companies working together can help level the playing field for all.

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