While technology’s role in retail has been apparent for some time, the current post-pandemic ecommerce environment demands that retail incorporates innovative solutions for both owner and customer. This innovation imperative, whether digital-first, touchless tech or other internet of things (IoT) customer experience, also requires the business owner to consider technology as important an aspect of company strategy as actual goods.
In addition to creating a technology strategy to push sales, the business owner must also understand how to implement such a strategy, as technology not incorporated efficiently comes not only with a high price point but also with the potential to undercut customer satisfaction.
The Value of a Technology Strategy
In the last 15 months, the retail industry has been redefined by a shift toward an autonomous and touchless shopping experience, a shift that is predicted to remain. And with this shift has come the need for technical innovations.
Although Deloitte’s 2021 Retail Industry Outlook reported that 88% of surveyed retail executives claimed digital acceleration to be their top retail investment priority, only three in ten executives acknowledged being digitally savvy enough to implement technology themselves.
While the surveyed executives understood that the right technology could pay dividends long into the future — whether bringing touchless tech to retail locations, implementing digital signage or looking toward the future with robotics — many acknowledged the need to bring in an outside technology specialist to determine the best strategy to implement these goals.
What Makes a Good Technology Partner?
Exploring or implementing a new solution or technology calls for a trusted partner with expertise in technology design, deployment and maintenance.
Key things to consider while looking for such a partner include:
- A team that is able to both design and deploy. Beginning with an initial discovery call, the right partner will provide access to its engineers, project managers, technicians and other key experts who design and implement a solution unique to your company’s needs.
- Collaborative relationships with a variety of technology vendors, offering your company a comprehensive portfolio of solutions.
- A turnkey solution that considers all costs upfront so there are little to no unexpected expenses in the future.
- A space where technology can be tested before it’s implemented. Understanding that the technology called for works before it is installed will save time, money and the headache of failed tech.
Testing in a Risk-Free Environment
Perhaps the most important decision in choosing a technology installation partner lies in the ability to test solutions in a controlled environment like an innovation lab. Before the pandemic, retailers may have relied on some background research and the advice of a technology partner to determine the best solutions for their business. But as new technology emerges in the retail space, knowing exactly what technology is needed, how it integrates with other technologies and exactly how it needs to be deployed can minimize risk and maximize reward. Think of this important step as a “try before you buy” approach.
Innovation labs are conducive to creativity and flexible enough to accommodate and mimic various retail environments, allowing a retailer to determine the best approach to technology advancement to ensure success when it’s time for implementation.
At the end of the day, having a well-equipped, flexible space with engineering expertise on hand to test technology saves time and money, which can increase ROI and minimize the risk of any project.
The Future of Innovation
Innovation has become a requirement for every industry, with new advancements being made in technology every day. Retail will continue to see adoption of digital technologies increase, even if the industry has been slower to move toward implementation. Indeed, a recent study from Fujitsu found that more than two-thirds of retailer respondents believe that technology will eventually revolutionize the industry as it seeks to innovate post-pandemic.
The key to seizing the power of technology is partnering with experts who can help build out, test and implement solutions not only for your immediate business challenges but also for those challenges waiting for you in the future.
Jamie Volk is the VP of Strategic Development at Velociti. He began his career with Velociti in 2001 as a Project Manager, where he specialized in large-scale developments within the retail, warehousing and transportation industries. Over the last 19 years, Volk has been integral in creating solutions for every problem his clients face in various roles including Account Manager, Business Development Manager and Pre-Sales Leader. In his current role, Volk leads pre-sales efforts, focusing on emerging technologies that are crucial to enabling the efficiencies in the constantly changing connected supply chain.