By: Larry Fandel, Director of Product Management, Retail System Engineering, Fujitsu America, Inc. and Wei Huang Oania, IoTG Retail Solution Segment Marketing Manager, Intel
If you’re in the retail business, congratulations! The retail industry hasn’t seen a more exciting time since the invention of the cash register. With innovative new technologies helping shape personalized experiences for consumers both in-store and online, the retail landscape is constantly evolving in ways that were unimaginable just a few years ago. And the truly exciting part is that there’s no end in sight; technology will only expand its influence in purchasing decisions for many consumers as retailers increasingly turn to new technologies and products to bridge the gap between digital and physical retail environments.
While a primary focus of retailers is to create an engaging, positive and unique shopping experience for consumers, it’s critical that they understand the importance of big data and in-store analytics, adopting cloud-based solutions and unifying commerce. With the retail industry in the process of a massive digital transformation, here are three key POS trends that retailers and consumers need to know to be successful in this rapidly changing retail environment.
- Usage of big data analytics will increase
In an effort to compete with e-commerce, retailers are increasingly turning to big data and in-store analytics to get a better understanding of what is happening inside stores. This year, we will continue to see an increase in big data and in-store analytics being applied to every stage of the retail process by determining retail trends, predicting where the demand will be for products, optimizing pricing for a competitive edge and identifying the consumers that will most likely be interested in purchasing those products.
Perhaps the most powerful use of big data analytics is location. Knowing where customers are in-store enables retailers to take quick action when it comes to making decisions on tracking, stocking and replenishing products on a regular basis; tracking how frequently a specific item moves from the shelf to a shopping cart allows retailers to map trends that are prevailing in the market. In fact, in sectors such as grocery, many consumer manufacturers are requiring these types of analytic measurements before suppling additional product.
Analytics continue to change the retail industry by providing visibility across all engagement channels to help retailers / businesses better understand consumer purchasing patterns and behaviors. The move towards big data will be led by those retailers of unified commerce, who are connecting these multiple channels in real-time. In order to lead the pack, retailers must take advantage of technology architecture that allows for easy integration of unified commerce, where store, mobile, and web become one. The competitive advantages of leveraging big data and in-store analytics hinge on the company’s ability to not only accumulate data, but also understand what that data means to leverage those insights, to benefit the bottom line.
- Increased focus on a personalized in-store customer experience
Customers can no longer be treated as a segment by retailers. Retailers now need to provide personalization that singles out the individual shopper. This year, we will also continue to see more retailers adopting personalized technology solutions such as mobile, which will allow for an interactive consumer experience. Through the emergence of new mobile POS technology, retailers can now offer customers more choices to accommodate their shopping habits by letting them begin, modify or complete transactions anywhere in the store.
With the rise of mobile POS systems and the increasing integration of unified commerce, retailers can ensure that a seamless view of the customer touchpoint is available from web to in-store to mobile. For example, if a customer researched a TV on the web, when he gets to the store unified commerce can help start a conversation based on his profile and analytics, to complete the journey.
Mobile technologies are enabling retailers to obtain data that is integrated into the retail ecosystem, allowing marketers and customer service teams to be in contact with the shopper at every point along their purchasing journey. With the level of data being pulled from these mobile technologies, retailers and consumers can expect more informed customer service, quicker payment processes, greater access to coupons and special offers, as well as more real-time personalization.
At the end of the day, the more data retailers can provide to customers, the better. Customers know the technology retailers have available to them, and in return, expect a better experience because of it.
The future of the in-store experience is exciting, especially as biometrics and artificial intelligence (AI) begin their start of guiding in-store experiences. We’ll be seeing biometrics as a source of customer recognition and AI as a key factor of influence and customer service in the future, continuing to evolve personalized in-store experiences.
- Cloud adoption will increase and outdated legacy systems will be replaced, creating new opportunities for future proofing
Legacy technology is becoming a roadblock for larger retailers when updating their current systems. As a result, retailers and consumers are continuing to look for solutions that are easily upgradable, have a future-proof design and continually meet their needs as technology requirements advance. This year, we will likely see an increase in the number of small- and medium-sized retailers adopting cloud-based solutions. Since these businesses are often nimbler and aren’t typically tied down to large, complicated legacy systems they are in a great position to switch to unified commerce technologies, further validating that cloud adoption is increasing.
The biggest advantage to retailers of hosting a POS solution in the cloud is the ability to easily, and quickly update software across stores at the same time. Leveraging the cloud makes it easier for consumers and retailers to access the latest technology and keep their systems updated. POS systems are being integrated through the cloud not only with peripherals but also backend solutions and payment card solutions. The expansion of POS systems to the cloud will reshape the POS technology sector entirely – 1,000 stores can have upgrades done in the cloud in a matter of 10 minutes. It’s pretty powerful stuff.
We expect that these three POS trends are ones that will be some of the leading themes in the retail narrative this year. As we look ahead to what’s in store for the retail industry, these POS trends will continue to be a huge focus for both retailers and consumers alike. Digital transformation in retail can’t happen overnight; it’s important to remember that it’s an evolution, not a revolution.
ABOUT: Fujitsu has a legacy spanning more than 30 years of engineering trusted, ultra-reliable POS systems and other technology solutions for retailers across numerous industries. Continuing to innovate, empower customers to meet their business goals and enhance the retail shopping experience through advanced technological products and services, Fujitsu TP8 POS terminals were unveiled earlier this year. Equipped with 7th generation Intel® Core™ processors, TP8 terminals are purpose-built to deliver maximum uptime, advanced performance, ultra future-proofing and first-rate versatility.
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