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In 2018, Data Drives Retail Tech Investments, Both in the Warehouse and on the Sales Floor

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In the age of e-commerce and the digital transformation, consumer expectations have undergone massive shifts. Consumers demand delivery of products in as little as a few hours and a more personalized shopping experience than ever before. They have the ability to price compare on-the-go and have a multitude of options beyond the traditional brick-and-mortar landscape.

For today’s retailers to stay competitive, this means they have to tackle new challenges, namely:

  • Understanding customers on an individual level and being able to personalize the shopping experience to meet them where they are.
  • Offering a wider range of options while maintaining a lean and efficient warehouse and logistics operations.
  • Delivering faster service, better quality and lower prices – three priorities often at conflict with each other.

Fortunately, technology is evolving to help smart retailers to deliver on all of this and more, and in 2018, we’re seeing major changes to how both the warehouse and in-store environment are being reimagined to meet these challenges.

In order to keep up with consumer demands for a wider variety of goods delivered faster and for less money, the retail industry has been pushed to modernize their approach to supply chain management. Technology is key to delivering the increased agility and responsiveness that profitable retail enterprises require. Key to this is replacing older technology – scanners, printers, cameras – that were limited in their connectivity and computing power, with devices that can hold up to the rigors of today’s retail environment. The modern supply chain now calls for more robust technology such as updated barcode scanners that are built into touch screen mobile devices that provide a wealth of information and capabilities, devices that allow hands free operation via voice controls and data capture technologies designed to improve operations and garner better insights through data analytics.

These new devices mean that there are more touch points along the way where inventory can be monitored and data gathered. In these connected technology-driven supply chains, retailers have real time data on hand to make better decisions and respond more intelligently. With increased digital operations and a better managed enterprise, retailers are creating a supply chain that’s more agile, where trends and challenges are able to be seen sooner and brick-and-mortar retailers can surpass the offerings of their online competition.

And while a technology-driven supply chain is part of the equation, retailers are also bringing connected technology into the sales environment to deliver the kind of personalized experience that consumers expect.  With abundant online shopping options and improved delivery, retailers are challenged to make sales in the store when many customers are simply browsing options before making the purchase online. To combat this, retailers know they need to offer a better shopping experience, one tailored to the needs of each individual customer – and to do that, they need data.

Using connected technology including video cameras, online history tracking and data capture at the point of sale, the showroom environment is being reimagined into a more bespoke experience. This trend, referred to as “clienteling,” is designed to help predict a customer’s wants and interests as soon as they walk into a store, reducing friction in the sales process.

At Panasonic, we understand the challenges that face today’s retailers and know that equipping them with cutting-edge technology is the key to their success. We’re proud to offer enterprise-class technology that works together in a secure environment and ensures protection of customer data. Tablets and handheld devices are enabled with POS technology to make payments quickly and efficiently anywhere on the storefront floor. Our rugged technology holds up against the stresses of the retail floor and is designed to serve as the information hub for your connected shopping experience.

On the distribution side, we work to build new mobile devices that support older applications and operating systems. Many organizations need new technology but can’t immediately abandon the applications in use, and Toughbook devices help ensure they won’t miss a beat in the transition to the modern supply chain. Our tablets are popular in the warehouse setting because they can easily be transitioned from one task to the other. For example, tablets that would be traditionally hard-mounted in the forklift can serve multiple purposes – as a desktop device, as a scanner for tracking inventory or for capturing information in a shift meeting. This means technology investments are more efficient, dynamic and cost effective. Whether clients are using a handheld or a tablet, running Windows or Android, our devices offer a new level of flexibility, and are changing the dynamics of how employees collect and consume data in the warehouse environment.

All in all, we know that data is the driving force behind getting in front of more consumers, understanding their needs and ultimately increasing profit for retail organizations. With more touch points and access to data in the distribution center, retailers can decrease shipping time and increase operations. In the store front, we’ve seen that with more customer data on hand, retailers are more likely to secure in-store purchases. Working with today’s retail leaders to put smart technology into the field – both at the warehouse and in the sales environment, will equip them for success in today’s changing, challenging retail landscape.