Retail Business Technology Expo (RBTE) is the largest retail exhibition in Europe, attracting over 17,000 people to London each May.
Earlier this month, Apadmi exhibited at the event to show how the right technology can help retailers create extraordinary mobile experiences. Here is what we discovered over two days exhibiting at the event.
Mobile is Everywhere
Before the event, there was the usual hype around electronic point of sale (EPOS) systems and eCommerce platforms taking prominence. However, once inside Olympia, it was clear to see that there was only one core take away from the event: mobile.
Whilst at first glance it may seem obvious that mobile would play such a big role in a retail technology event, the scope and breadth of coverage that mobile received was unquestionable.
Solutions for traditionally tech-adverse areas of retail such as warehousing, packaging, transportation and even in-store fitting rooms were all front and centre shouting about the same thing – the need for mobile transformation.
The past five years have seen a big push in the retail sector for digital transformation – online eCommerce sites, integrated supply chain models and greater connectivity between retailers and their suppliers.
But the next phase of retail modernisation is seeing a huge demand for mobile solutions. This doesn’t just mean a mobile-friendly website. There is a genuine opportunity for retailers to create competitive advantage and improve customer (and employee) experience by investing in mobile solutions.
Enterprise level retail solutions were widespread at RBTE. Companies were exhibiting and talking at speaker sessions on the importance of making sure that your own employees are able to make use of the advantages mobile can bring.
Benefits to Retailers of Going Mobile
There are many long-term and short-term wins to be had by investing in mobile:
- Personalisation: the quest for improved personalisation isn’t likely to disappear any time soon. Delivering relevant content to consumers in a format they prefer, through a channel they choose, at a time they need it is the holy grail for many retailers. Delivering this dream requires a complex web of technology solutions that can integrate with multiple existing IT systems, many of which are likely to be legacy systems that haven’t been maintained or updated in quite some time. Developing Artificial Intelligence (AI) and big data tools is key to ensuring retailers are keeping customers happy and returning to them on a regular basis.
- Product visualisation: Augmented Reality (AR) tools are slowly becoming more and more mainstream. Adoption has been slow, but retailers, and consumers, are beginning to realise the power of the technology. No new hardware is needed, only a smartphone with a camera and an app that can be downloaded from the Apple App Store of Google Play Store. This is most powerful when consumers can see items in their own home, scaled to the correct size before making a purchase decision.
- Location: pairing location data of a customer with that of their previous search or purchasing history and the proximity to a local store can reap huge rewards for retailers. New products, or products on sale, can be promoted to customers at a time you know they’re near your store, and that you know have an interest in specific products.
- Enterprise mobile solutions: retailers need to enable their employees to do more with tools they already have available to them (tablet computers and smartphones). This may include checking back-room stock availability from anywhere in a store, to removing paper-based tasks which leads to greater process efficiencies…
- Process efficiency: Whilst not the most glamorous of subjects, the benefits of standardising and improving internal business processes is often overlooked. Errors are minimised, visibility throughout the organisation is improved, and costs are reduced. Additionally, the process of formally documenting how data and information flows through your business often helps raise issues elsewhere in the organisation that can lead to further improvements in efficiencies and help to maximise sales opportunities.
Technology is Only Half the Challenge
However, maximising the usage of new mobile technology is not the sole remit of any one department. New technology must be seamlessly joined up with IT infrastructure currently used throughout your business.
Failure to integrate solutions with the rest of the company will lead to a sub-standard solution that will frustrate users, leading to them abandoning the technology, which in turn harms the reputation and productivity of the whole business.
Developing your Mobile Strategy