Technology Rings Up Revenue for RetailersBy Samuel Greengard Print
Information technology is driving massive changes in retailing. Successful businesses are embracing everything from back-end analytics and social media to mobile POS systems.
By Samuel Greengard
Eoin Comerford has seen the future of retailing. It’s a place where checkout lines don’t exist and paper receipts have been relegated to the dustbin of history. It’s a space where customers have access to product information from their smartphones, and employees view live inventory information.
“Today’s technology provides a far more efficient way to do business and interact with customers,” says the president and CEO at Moosejaw Mountaineering.
As the fourth largest U.S. retailer in the specialty outdoor niche, Moosejaw operates nine brick-and-mortar stores in Michigan and Illinois, along with an Internet storefront. Last year, the company began eliminating fixed point-of-sale (POS) terminals in stores, arming sales associates with iPod Touches, and completely redesigning the physical layout of its stores to regain space and create a more compelling shopping experience.
“Our goal,” says Comerford, “is to completely redefine the shopping experience.”
These days, Moosejaw isn’t the only company ringing up sales by revamping its retailing strategy. A spate of technologies—encompassing areas as diverse as mobility, social media, analytics and product life-cycle management—are creating new challenges but also new opportunities. Within this disruptive environment it’s critical to apply new thinking.
“Companies must fundamentally remap processes, as well as the way they interact with customers,” points out John Avallon, vice president, North America leader, Consumer Products & Retail Division, Capgemini.
For business and IT leaders, this means stepping out of the retailing box and finding new and creative ways to plug in data, design stores, and manage products and services throughout their life cycle. “The retail industry is at a pivot point,” observes Brian Kilcourse, a managing partner at consulting firm RSR Research. “There is an enormous paradigm shift taking place—the likes of which hasn’t been seen since the introduction of barcode scanning at the store level.”
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