As always, technology would be a major contributor in reducing the gap between manufacturers and consumers. But the major trend is around the retailers’ acceptance of what has been launched previously. That, will be the face of retail technology in 2015. Whether it is contact-less payment options, chip-card standardization, or virtual stores, the consumer will be engaging with the retailer like never before.
The usage of smartphones has opened the doors to newer ways to transact through embedded technology, NFC devices (Near Field Communications) etc., which can be used in contact-less payment systems like Google Wallet and now, Apple Pay. Also, online transactions, virtual payments have gained edge as popularity of non-cash payments has grown as people make the shift towards cashless digital transactions.
By 2020, customers will certainly be using their smartphones and mobile devices to pay for a wide range of goods and services in this way. When the consumer has embraced the mobile (and how!), it would be retrograde for the retailer not to do the same. From contact-less payment acceptance, to beacons to the mass-acceptance of the Mobile POS, it has become imperative for the retailer to reach out to the customer via the mobile.
In an extension of the retailer using mobile technology as a bridge to reach out to the customer, beacons will play an instrumental role. Simply put, this enables the retailer to literally ‘guide’ the customer around the store, down the aisles, right up to the product, all using a Cloud based retail management system. And ping him with a discount coupon on the way, along with an upsell item of interest (which would be gleaned from his historical purchase data!).
Secondly, this year will also see retail integrations in a big way. Gone are the days when retailers picked the best individual application for merchandise hierarchy, a separate one for inventory management, and yet another one for transactions at the point of sale . The flip side was, despite doing their jobs well, these units failed to serve the company as a single integrated unit as all the processes churned out data in siloes.
The need, therefore is of an application that integrates all retail processes into one , a single all-inclusive ‘suite’ of retail management applications, which would be on virtual servers (and therefore, reducing the IT spend of the retailer). And the answer to it all is the Cloud. This technology can reduce a retailer’s IT spend to a fraction, quadruples the dependability and provides fail-safe operations like nothing else. Plus, hybrid Cloud systems provide greater control over retail operations, while keeping costs low.
2015 will also be the year when customers will want loyalty to be an integral part of the retailer. He or she should be able to check his loyalty point balance on the move from his tablet or phone, and the retailer should have provided a loyalty portal to indulge the former.
Conversely, the POS operator should also be able to access a customer’s historical purchase data, loyalty points and make a smart upsell without hassles. A customer having a loyalty account with a retailer provides a very valuable mode of communication, where he or she allows the retailers to contact the person with early-bird offers and value-additions. Either way, having a loyalty system as a component of your Integrated Business Management multichannel retail setup will make this part of customer retention more efficient and less labor-intensive.
Over the years, we have seen more and more physical retail businesses opening e-stores. This means they need well-designed e-commerce systems, new methods of merchant credit card processing, and better visual marketing. Security is also a major concern for many businesses with an electronic footprint. A Cloud-based Retail management suite can seamlessly integrate with your Retail application, managing your retail chain as well as your vendor platform over the Internet.
With such uninhibited influx of technology and data from distinct sources, what a retailer needs is an Integrated Retail Management Solution with a robust back-end enterprise which can work in tandem. This would have the capability to can ease the challenges in retail processes, along with providing clear visibility through the entire supply chain. To maintain the customer service provided in the retail market, it is an imperative to adopt retail management solution that easily runs simultaneous operations.
Essentially, what a retailer needs is a one-stop solution for his retail management needs, which is Cloud-capable and which can integrate all retail functions into a seamless whole. Available on terminal and mobile devices, iVend Cloud-based retail management suite’s multi-store, multi-user, e-commerce, loyalty-ready abilities empower retailers to engage with consumers on an entirely new level. With iVend Retail on Cloud, enterprise retailers can look beyond disparate software solutions and achieve optimum profitability.
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