What was once deemed experiential, is now a must have, and includes things like digital signage, self serve kiosks, endless aisles, scan-and-go, tracking, mobile POS and in store analytics. The problem is that much of the current retail tech infrastructure that underpins retail operations was not built for the old operating environment, never mind the new Covide-19 related operating environment. For example, though online shopping was growing and then exploded during Covid ,most eCommerce platforms were not integrated with in store systems like POS or CRM. This integrative technology deficit is being magnified by the new normal retail trends post Covid.
What are these new trends and what is the impact on physical retail?
- Physical Distancing. Has meant that nice to have is now a must have. This means being able to provide seamless mobile and contactless commerce. But, to deliver this you need to unify fractured systems.
- Experiential is now practical. What was once nonessential like digital signage, self service kiosks and mobile POS are now essential from a safety perspective. But, to deliver on this you need a modular platform with multiple content, shopping and transactional capabilities - integrated into POS or eCommerce.
- Digital/Physical Transformation requires the costly on-premises store infrastructure to transform too. Moving to a modern cloud based API-driven architecture at minimal capex is unlikely to occur. To deliver on this requires a cloud based content and network management system to deploy branded content, shopping and transactional experiences from one, accessible centralized platform.
Retailers that make the transition, and extend the capability of their core retail tech infrastructure to meet these trends, will turn the experiential into the actual. Not only will they not incur massive capex and refit costs, but will provide the digitally enhanced store that customers are seeking given changes that Covid-19 have brought on.