What “Brick versus Clicks” really means for retailers

Posted by  Taj Onigbanjo

Over the past decade, technology has driven significant growth in both the number and the reach of opportunities available to the retail sector. As new technologies and options emerge, today’s customers are faced with more information, more interaction options, and more choices than ever before, all of which are contributing to dramatic shifts in the way(s) they go about making their purchases.

This influx of options has positioned the modern consumer in a more powerful role than ever before, with greater demands for faster, more seamless retail experiences throughout their entire purchasing journey. Whether stood in a brick-and-mortar store, interacting on a company’s website, or reaching out to the customer service team, consumer expectations have changed.

To remain relevant in the eyes of today’s savvy consumers and their ever changing behaviours (where they buy, how they engage with brands, and the rate of fulfillment they expect) the retail sector is left challenged by the need to learn how to roll with these changes and capitalise on them. By constantly adapting and innovating, retail organisations are better positioned to provide their customers with agile, personalised experiences across all channels.

The cost of adapting systems to meet continuously changing demands can be a significant strain on resource for retailers, but those that are unable to adapt to change leave themselves at risk of alienating their customers, and eventually fading away. This can lead to a volatile environment where competitors with more agile models are able disrupt the landscape and get ahead.

Retail evolution to get ahead and stay there

Cloud software as a service provides retailers of all sizes with the opportunity to enhance their engagement with consumers and accelerate innovation. Automatic roll outs and updates frees IT teams from the burden of maintaining outdated back-end infrastructure. The system will grow with the organization and its benefits will soon be realised.

Eliminate silos

Software as a service helps to consolidate and integrate data from several disparate systems into a single hub of information that is able to provide real time insight for every user, including customers, suppliers, and employees in a universal view. With collaborative systems driving the retail organization, back-end communication between teams is seamless and streamlined - from the moment an online consumer adds a product to their basket, the processes for purchasing, from inventory to invoicing to posting are automatically communicated and reported.

Having a collaborative view of team workspaces, screen sharing capabilities, online chat and instant networking, ensures that queries and issues can be resolved quickly and efficiently; staff are no longer left to waste their time and creativity on outdated systems and mundane data entry, allowing them to work smarter and more productively.

In turn, administrative duties, reporting, and decision making is quicker, and the margin for error is reduced.

Easily access accurate financial information

In a market that continues to change, retail businesses need a reliable stream of real-time data, automatic reporting, and the financial transparency to allow for to-the-second updates of retail transactions and budget variances. Through financial management integration capabilities, retailers are better able to respond to change including global expansions, mergers, acquisitions, and new regulations faster than their competitors, thus saving time, boosting profit margins, and improving business performance.

Increase responsiveness

Modern consumers want a quick response, and a swift resolution through round the clock customer service and an “always on” business culture. Through automating certain areas of the business, retailers are able to respond quickly to changes in customer and market demand as and when it happens.

Gain greater insight

Comprehensive, real-time data and reliable consumer activity reports allow retail business leaders to monitor industry trends, make informed business decisions, and cater to the demands of their customers (both online and off-) while competitors are left scratching their heads as to why they're failing to meet targets.

Plan for the future with financial reporting software

Centralised data, software integration, and interoperability paves the way for seamlessly connected applications and data, improved visibility into planning, budgeting, and forecasting. A scalable, financial reporting solution helps to map out potential “what if” scenarios, making it possible to  forecast for the future to ensure a consistent and predictable revenue stream.

With changes always in the pipeline, modern retailers cannot expect to thrive in such a competitive market online unless they are willing to deploy technology advancements and innovative ways of thinking and working.

Taj Onigbanjo

Taj Onigbanjo is a Business Manager at Unit4 with a particular focus on the Unit4 Financials solution – the best in class accounting software. He brings over 20 years of Enterprise Sales & Sales Management experience across three different product sets and three continents having managed teams in the UK, Middle East & Africa; latterly in the telecoms arena providing worldwide data networks to Global corporates. He is an ardent reader, writer and passionate Chelsea FC fan.

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