Addressing The Four Quadrants of Retail Friction

By : Tom Chittenden

June 28, 2018 12:00 PM

Are you addressing the four quadrants of retail friction?


The retail landscape is looking brighter in 2018, but there are areas of friction you should be examining and improving. Though there are many complex and interrelated aspects of retail management, they can be categorized in four “quadrants” that, when taken together, make significant impacts on your ability to stay agile and consistent across any channel or touchpoint.


1) Inventory Management: This is typically cited as one of the basics retailers need to get right so they don’t disappoint customers or negatively impact their bottom line. It affects every area of the enterprise – whether it’s slow order processing or the financial repercussions of overstocks, out-of-stocks and dead stock. But why is getting a grasp on having the right items in the right place at the right time so difficult? It often has to do with data, or more precisely, not making full use of data. The right technologies help take the guesswork out of inventory by automating forecasting, fulfillment and other functions that use real-world data to improve accuracy, productivity and efficiency.


2) Customer Loyalty Programs: A report last month from Total Retail indicates that 74% of retailers now offer cross-channel synchronization of loyalty programs – a number almost doubled from 2017. And this is certainly a step in the right direction as consumers expect to be able to use their loyalty programs anytime and anywhere they shop. But beyond that, consumers expect advanced personalization and individualized experiences with your  brand. Understanding how offers, discounts and rewards drive loyalty is critical – as is leveraging the associated analytics behind this data to continuously improve relevance and appeal.


3) Secure and Flexible Payments: In an age where everything needs to be faster, simplern and consumer-controlled, flexible payment options help streamline transaction finalization. The buying journey is increasingly a winding road rather than a straight path, and shoppers expect to change the way they buy and fulfill on a whim. Payment mechanisms need to be able to keep up with them, and make the payment as much of a “non-event” as possible. Offering streamlined guest checkout options online (instead of requiring shoppers to fill out lengthy registration forms) or enabling curbside payment and digital receipt delivery for BOPIS purchases are just a couple of examples of how you can reduce friction and frustration.


4) Employee Enablement: Rising wages and tight labor pools have put pressure on retailers to better utilize their store associates. From improving speed of service to taking immediate action on store monitoring and insights to extending consumer outreach and issue-resolution across channels, there are countless ways associates can be your brand’s best asset in addressing common friction points. More than half of retailers are using mobile technology to achieve this, but less than 17% are optimizing these mobile solutions to extend service outside the store, leaving much of the buying cycle untended. Equipping associates with mobile tools to serve shoppers, no matter where they are, is invaluable in making the shopping experience smoother.

Though the retail industry has been through some rough waters in recent years, there is a great deal of evidence to suggest the future is looking brighter. In 2017 – despite headlines around the decline of brick-and-mortar, more physical stores opened than closed. And the National Retail Federation (NRF) projects overall retail sales to grow between 3.8 and 4.4% this year, including a 10 to 12% boost for online and other non-store sales, in part due to coming off a strong holiday season and a surge in consumer spending due to tax cuts. Technology is enabling greater cross-pollination of online, mobile and in-store experiences, and winning retailers are reaping the benefits of revitalizing and reimagining the enterprise in a swiftly changing landscape.

It would serve any retailer looking to implement high-impact digital transformations to look closely at these areas. At NCR, we use our unique domain expertise to combine the software, hardware, and services needed to leverage all these components in concert, enabling not only seamless experiences for consumers but operational excellence for the enterprise. 

Tom Chittenden

Vice President and General Manager – NCR Retail Solutions

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Tom leads the strategy and direction of the company’s retail business solutions worldwide, spanning the Food & Drug, Mass Merchandise, Petroleum & Convenience, and Department/Specialty segments. Prior to joining NCR, Tom held solution leader roles in numerous capacities within retail at GE, Wayne Fueling Systems and VeriFone.