Published December 21, 2020
The “digital explosion” was in the making for years, and the pandemic served as the detonator. Now, for retailers, that means your customers want to use technology to engage with you every step of the way during their in-store experience. And contactless shopping—from browsing to payment—was already in demand, but now consumers not only want as little physical contact as possible, they expect it.
And even before the pandemic, 37 percent of consumers said they just want retailers to be innovative. Glossier, a beauty retailer heeded the call when they created “Iinstagrammable” stores with the goal of helping their customers achieve the perfect selfie. And it paid off. Their New York showroom “generated more revenue per square foot than the average Apple store.”
So, to stay relevant and competitive, retailers must keep up with fast-changing digital demands and that likely means moving beyond a break/fix IT approach. Consumers today are much less likely to tolerate technology down times, especially if it affects their safety and convenience. That’s why more and more retailers are partnering with a Managed Services Provider (MSP).”
Quite simply, break/fix is the practice of using IT support only when it’s needed—if there’s a software or hardware failure or to make an upgrade. And retailers take that route with the idea that it will save them money by not paying for a monthly or annual service fee, which it can (for some small retailers with business operations that include basic IT, this reactive approach seemed to make sense). But the increasing digital demands are making break/fix riskier, even for small businesses.
Whether it’s to support mobile ordering, big data, driven analytics, or the proliferation of the Internet of Things (IoT), retailers can wisely use an MSP to innovate their business to thrive.
Getting to the core fundamentals, MSPs help retailers assess their store for device connectivity and control. And MSPs can connect to and manage all critical devices from the front of your store to the back of it, including POS systems, printers, digital signage, routers, switches, cameras, and PCs.
Device connectivity, process automation, and data transparency are key to the success of a digital transformation. But, as you consider the technical side of this change, it’s important to remember there’s a human side to all of this, as well.
The consumer. The life priorities your customers are juggling can be overwhelming. From having to work overtime while taking care of a family to concerns about safety, people are handling a lot. The Independent reports that 7 out of 10 British consumers say their lives are too busy. So, to deliver a great customer experience when they’re shopping in your store, there are four basic things you should provide: ease, convenience, speed and safety.
Your employees. Finding the right employees who you can trust to run your store is one of your largest priorities and giving them the tools they need to do their jobs should be, too. As they work to give your customers a great experience, they must grapple with a lot of technology—from point-of-sale (POS) systems, tablets, kiosks, digital signage, to mobile ordering, and more. Interruptions to any of them can pose setbacks, sometimes big ones.
Owners and operators. What retailer wouldn’t want a magic wand that allows them to see every bit of their operations at any time and adjust accordingly. There are a lot of moving pieces to manage, many of them critical to the success of your business. An MSP gives you access to data from any connected device. And, by collecting and analyzing the information, you can make better decisions about how to run more efficiently and how to better serve customers. Ultimately, when technology is managed and supported by a trusted partner, you’re free to focus on delighting customers and growing business.
Retailers’ physical stores are a critical part of the retail industry now and moving forward. Yes, online shopping has never been more popular, but consumers still say that they prefer to shop in person. The top reason for that is the experience of it—particularly being able to see and touch items they want to buy. So, despite all their online shopping and Amazon appearing to take over the world, your brick and mortars remain relevant.
Now the name of the game in your store will be maximizing your customers experience through frictionless and uninterrupted service with smooth customer-facing store operations. And that’s all made possible with the proactive management of technology throughout your store enabled by a few core capabilities, including the following three:
Many use cases of MSPs (Managed Services Provider) show evidence that they’re enabling retailers with capabilities that are improving worker productivity, decreasing total cost of ownership, improving store technology availability and performance, and improving customer experience around the globe.
Wondering if your business could receive help from an MSP or if you want to stick with the break/fix IT approach? Answering the following questions might help:
1. Do you have a network of 100 or more stores?
2. Are you dealing with multiple technology support vendors?
3. In your tech support model, do you have multiple help desks, some of which are outsourced?
4. Do you have a proliferation of mobile devices?
5. Does your business depend on the reliable and consistent availability of technology?
If you answered yes to any of the questions, chances are good that you’ll profit from an MSP. The device connectivity, data visualization, and process automation delivered in a seamless, integrated way could free you up to delight your customers and grow your business.
See how NCR can help you run your retail store from end to end.