Retail Mobile Technology: The Great Untapped Opportunity
Release Date: 05/27/2021
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In this Special Podcast Zebra Technologies and Diebold Nixdorf come together to discuss how retail is being disrupted on multiple fronts while trying to meet demanding consumer expectations. Retailers need to simultaneously transform their it landscape ensure high availability, align well-orchestrated staff processes and offer the ultimate consumer experience across all channels all while trying to keep profitable. Retailers are investing in mobility solutions to ensure satisfying and safe consumers and staff journeys.
Jerry Langfitt (00:16):
Hello everyone. Thank you for joining us today. I'd like to welcome. Today's guest Philippe Dauphin VP global retail solutions from Diebold Nixdorf.
Philippe Dauphin (00:25):
Thanks Jerry and thanks for the invite I am happy to be here.
Jerry Langfitt (00:29):
And also from Zebra Technologies, Europe, Mark Thomson, director, retail, and hospitality. Thank you for joining us today, Mark
Mark Thomson (00:36):
Jerry. Thanks for the welcome thanks for having me. I am very happy to be here to talk about where retail is right now.
Jerry Langfitt (00:45):
Great. Let's dive right in. Retail is being disrupted on multiple fronts while trying to meet demanding consumer expectations. Retailers need to simultaneously transform their IT landscape ensure high availability, align well-orchestrated staff processes and offer the ultimate consumer experience across all channels all while trying to keep profitable. Retailers are investing in mobility solutions to ensure satisfying and safe consumers and staff journeys. Philippe let's dive in. What are the latest trends you see happening in the retail industry?
Philippe Dauphin (01:20):
Yeah, I see three major trends. I'm not sure that they are new, there were there but, but they are more of use since the COVID. The first trend is really this necessity, you know, to combine the online and the offline. So we just cannot go ahead having silos if they want to be really consumer centric. This is a major, the first trend. The second one, to create some new consumer journeys and adapt. The third trend, there is a huge opportunity to digitalize some staff journey’s to bring more efficiency and in this context mobility will definitely be important.
Jerry Langfitt (02:06):
That's really interesting. Philippe, Mark, what do you think?
Mark Thomson (02:10):
Well, I can't help but agree with Philippe. And I think for me, the main driver of change actually is the consumer retailers need to be very clear about the expectations and the relationship that they have with their target customers and how those are changing. And, and it's the customer very much. Now that is demanding changes in the way that we allow them to shop. I guess technology is also an important factor here because is in a sense enabling that change, that could be anything from mobile technology, changing the way retailers get access to information. So customers, but also the ability for us as shoppers to get online and to have access to online and e-commerce shopping. So technology and customer behavior, both converging to dry some change. And Phillip is right. COVID has certainly accelerated that. But most of this is, is changed. That was already happening prior to COVID; COVID is just shine a spotlight on it.
Jerry Langfitt (03:12):
That's a great perspective Mark. Now, from the retailer's perspective, how do you see them embracing this transformation? What are the steps they're taking? How are they reacting to this?
Mark Thomson (03:22):
It's a good question because they are they're reacting differently. They're not all reacting in the same way. It's a, it's an industry like, like any others as an all industry is that there are pioneers and there are laggards. However, when you get a, a worldwide change or shock to the system, like COVID over the last 12 to 18 months, what happens is some of those laggards, unfortunately fall by the wayside because COVID and the pandemic took no prisoners. But what we're saying for the more pioneering retailers is what they're doing is they're actually accelerating transformation strategies. And some of them the best in my opinion, are the ones where they're involving not just the IT teams, because transformation doesn't start with IT. It actually starts with the whole business. And they're involving people from multiple departments from IT, HR loss prevention, as well as store operations and things like, I guess an example might be project to empower staff in the store with more access to technology or that that involves store operations. It clearly involves IT. There's potential for it to evolve HR in terms of the information that staff might have access to, etc. So what were certainly seeing and the conversations we're having with retailers is increasingly they're involving multiple teams and departments within the retailer. And I think that can only be a positive thing.
Jerry Langfitt (04:52):
It definitely is going to take a village to change that kind of culture. And within the retailer to serve the consumers better. Philippe, What do you see retailers doing?
Philippe Dauphin (05:02):
Yeah, I would agree with what thought wasn't mentioned by Mark, because at the end of the day, all retailers have very good IT departments because they want to evaluate different technologies, implement them. And so on the purchasing department to purchase at the right price. But what is sometimes missing is really to start by focusing again on the journey’s, because technology should not be the goal. It's just a way to which goal and the goal is to improve this consumer journeys. I give you an example recently, for instance, discussing with retailers, whether it be able to the COVID time to give us some technologies around the self-service checkout, you know, the low, for instance, to control the checkout via a mobile device, but the application for these two applications, one is to have a no-touch approach instead of touching the screen, you can control it from your smartphone as an example, or second usage. You can set up for handicap people, but again, technology is the easy part, the most complicated part, and the focus in that you should be on the consumer journeys or on the stature.
Jerry Langfitt (06:20):
That's an interesting perspective, Philippe. Thank you. So let's talk about the mobility technology. How do you think the industry is going to be disrupted by this arc? What do you think?
Mark Thomson (06:31):
I think when it comes to mobility in particular, I think we're reaching a level of maturity that it's going to drive change by itself. Probably getting close to a tipping point for mobile technology and retail from, from two sides. Certainly I guess from a consumer side, mobile technology smart mobile technology has been around for 12 or 13 years already. And it's now in the hands of virtually everyone, all of us carry our mobile phones with us. So we're all used to using mobile technology, not just for one thing, whether it's calling or sending text messages, the mobile device is really our point of access to information or point of access to booking flights as well as shopping online. And that ease of use is now being leveraged by retailers to start to connect staff, to enable them to perform tasks faster, communicate with colleagues and to answer customer questions in real time, so impacting the customer experience as well. And I think that simplicity that way of thinking about mobile technology and apps rather than software programs is really driving a change within a retail store that allows retailers to react to some of these challenges that they're facing in a very different way. But it also at the same time, as well as driving productivity and improving operations, it also everything that you do now is creating a digital audit, increasing the amount of data available from the store and what's happening in the store, which then in turn allows retailers to identify further opportunities to improve their processes within the store and optimize their businesses. So really, I guess all of these things coming together means that mobile technology is beginning to act as a to transformation catalyst by itself.
Jerry Langfitt (08:27):
Hmm. Yeah. Mobility is really coming and making a thing. Go ahead, Philippe. I was going to ask what you think of that.
Philippe Dauphin (08:33):
Yeah. I would complement the answer in the following way... You know, mobility's already there for years for the consumer and if you're taking the online business of the retailers, I think that fully understood this is fully implemented except ticking the box when it comes to the interactions in the store, it out I've started to experiment some seeing, which was attractive to implement, bring your own device. But we have limited that limited success of this one. So let's start understanding or so that implementing professional mobile devices for this makes sense. Yeah. And I strongly believe that this will become one more popular and when it comes to staff journeys, I think there is a huge potential there because we have several conversations with very large, retailers in Europe and abroad, and several of them want to implement a universal terminal, make sure that all employees are equipped , yeah. That they communicate, they manage that efficiency, that different tasks. Retailers should really make sure that, that the right applications that they'd have right ecosystem and that they have all the platform to manage this platforms and that is a key challenge to really benefit from this potential disruption.
Jerry Langfitt (10:04):
Mark were recently did a shopper study and found that 73% of associates feel they're more effective at helping shoppers. If equipped with mobile technology, you had mentioned a little bit about that with talking to associates and have an access, but what do you think really is the root cause or reason why associates feel that way?
Mark Thomson (10:23):
It almost goes back to my previous answer in the sense that as individuals we've been using smart technology, mobile devices for at least 12, 13 years or so now, and that survey certainly found that staff felt frustrated at the lack of technology when they actually came to work in the store, customers simply wanted to know more about products, et cetera, and staff were unable to answer their questions without going to a point of sale system, which is just not right. So giving staff access to this information via a mobile device, seemed logical and sensible to staff for years. Finally, as retailers start to understand this and start to deploy mobile technology on a much wider basis and the, the technologies behind it, such as Android as an operating system makes that easier. And we create an app based mentality. Now we see this change finally happening, and we see the, I guess, the satisfaction levels of staff improving as they feel much more equipped to do their job better in front of the customers.
Jerry Langfitt (11:32):
One would think that's true just because millennials and gen Z and whatever you want to call them were born with a phone in their hand. I think it's not necessarily just a preference they're going to have to serve and be ready to serve the next generation of what they're used to. Philippe a question for you, because talking about this, it really made me think of something. If retailers mobile technology to every associate one would think that would create new operational challenges. How should a retailer react to those challenges and try and manage expectations and four prepare themselves for success?
Philippe Dauphin (12:07):
So is this really a crucial point? And let me take some example, Many retailers who have already have something like 30 to 40,000 mobile devices in their stores and their plan to increase this number the next two years, maybe two, three years to 250 or 300,000. So think about this one would retailer for instance, consider to manage a huge inventory of 300,000 products without managing the inventory. The answer is no. So it should be the same here. If you go to this magnitude of handheld devices, the cube is not the rotation of the inventory in this context, but it's more to manage the availability of the devices and the right sizing. Because if you don't manage them, you need to purchase maybe more to make sure that these devices are available for the staff. So it's a key challenge. So where about some solutions, one of them, which is what we call the manage mobility platform to manage the outer life that second, but this is crucial. So the question is not to go on, to go or not go with Mobility. The question is how you grow.
Jerry Langfitt (13:25):
Yeah. You really need to support it. I think you had said a great point that you really need to focus on the consumer journey and not focus on the technology, how best to serve the consumer, but with that comes infrastructure ramifications. So you really need to make sure you're ready to support it because the worst thing you can provide is a poor journey for a staff or a poor journey for the consumer. That's a great place to close. Thanks, Mark. And Philippe really appreciate you sharing your insights and thoughts on how critical mobile strategies benefit retailers and consumers. And thanks to you. Our listeners for tuning into this episode of commerce. COMMERCE NOW. You'll find the link in our show notes. Thank you for listening.