Retail & Distribution
25 Oct 2018
“Be reactionary. React to what the market wants. And the market wants one-on-one real-time engagement.” — serial entrepreneur and best-selling author Gary Vaynerchuk.
Today’s retail CEOs know this is the case, and they want to enhance the customer experience whilst expanding globally. But they face real challenges and tough questions in pursuing this goal:
- How much will it cost to implement a global solution to power this crucial digital transformation — and how quickly will the business see the ROI?
- What is the best way to create a culture of collaboration when different brands and teams have long histories of doing things “their own way”?
- How much time will it take to review the IT investment choices to make a smart decision — and how can this be balanced with other priorities?
These are just a few of the many concerns crossing the desks of retail CEOs and managing directors. Combine these with the need to acquire (and keep) top talent and never miss a sale, and top retail executives have to be masters of the modern-day three-ring circus. Such are the struggles and joys of leading a customer-centered retail business in 2018. No wonder so many retail leaders take comfort in these 2,500-year-old words of wisdom: “In the midst of chaos, there is also opportunity.”
Seizing Opportunities with Omnichannel POS
Omnichannel retail is the thing to master amid the chaos.
There is a strong consensus in the retail industry that stores still matter — a lot — even as e-commerce surges. The key is to give customers a seamless, unified commerce experience. This means equipping store associates with the latest tools to communicate with customers, anticipate their needs and wants, and connect them with the products and services they desire.
As Erik Nordstrom, president of Nordstrom Direct, said, “Retail is a customer business. You’re trying to take care of the customer — solve something for the customer. And there’s no way to learn that in the classroom or in the corner office.”
Retail CEOs are great listeners, gathering insights not only from their boards and management teams, but also from the retail sales floor. They know sales associates are on the front lines, the ultimate shopping ambassadors. Any technology investment has to work well for them, or it won’t be as impactful with the end customer.
Doug McMillon, president and CEO of Walmart, recently addressed the evolving relationship between artificial intelligence (AI) and people at the 2018 National Retail Federation convention. Retail Connections quoted him, saying: “We want to foster a culture that supports change. As we make investments in technology and learn how to put AI in the store [for example], we want our people to live through that and help contribute to that. We want them to be part of the process.”
A Scalable, Intuitive, Global Solution
To create a culture of entrepreneurial innovation, CEOs are looking for proven omnichannel POS technologies. Many want to talk to peers who’ve had real-world experiences with a given software. Others look to their top managers to supply compelling evidence of a POS solution’s local/global functionality, user-friendliness and scalability. Here are a few things looming large on many CEOs’ requirements radar:
- Localization capabilities: How many countries has the solution been deployed in? How many markets has it been localized for? How many languages does it support?
- Does the POS solution comply with local tax procedures, regulations and credit card payments? Is the solutions provider up to speed and compliant with the latest Payment Card Industry (PCI) and General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) requirements?
- Is the solution compatible with fixed hardware as well as mobile points of service, such as smartphones, so sales associates never have to leave the customer’s side?
- Will employees who are digital natives — especially Millennials — appreciate the POS technology, find it intuitive and feel it’s helping them do their jobs, not hindering them?
All of these issues are very important to retail CEOs and managing directors as they strategize for sales expansion, omnichannel consistency and talent acquisition. Arming their teams with the right technology is one of the many other priorities they must manage to keep their organizations on a growth trajectory.
“People are always going to go shopping. A lot of our effort is just: ‘How do we make the retail experience a great one?’ ” — Phillip Green, Chairman, Arcadia Group.
Are you a CEO or Managing Director focused on enhancing your customers’ experience locally and around the world? Download our new guide for retail CEOs and Executive Managers to ensure your business never misses a sale, whether online or in-store.