The new retail landscape

Columnists
Brightpearl CEO Derek O’Carroll

Retail technology expert and Chief Executive of of www.Brightpearl.com, Derek O’Carroll, shares his advice on how local businesses can compete in a hyper competitive environment.

2017 has been a particularly busy year for businesses across the region and next year is shaping up to be even more challenging. Local businesses are feeling the pressure as the retail and online giants squeeze margins significantly.

Large, highly efficient online retailers led by Amazon are disrupting the economics of retail. Customer service expectations have been changed forever. Next day delivery is the norm, and customers have come to expect instant gratification.

The introduction of new technologies, such as chatbots, AI and voice recognition are shaping how we interact and shop with brands and retailers must keep pace or be left behind.

Competing in this new environment is not easy, with 15 stores closing each day in the UK being an example of that. However, it is possible to succeed – by being different.

Creating unique customer experiences is key to competing in the new retail landscape and with customer insights becoming much more widely available and accessible to businesses of all sizes, it’s easier to do.

This availability of information means businesses are now able to spot patterns to engage with their customers on a more personal level – helping them to stand out from the competition by offering an experience that feels tailored and personal.

To be truly efficient in this area though you should also be running your business on a single, integrated platform, rather than disparate systems and utilize clean data.

Using technology that can automate time-consuming admin functions, such as inventory, accounting and warehousing is also really important, as that can help free up business owners to focus on making sure customers receive personalised service.

As shoppers we’re increasingly looking for individual, stylised brands, that resonate with us. This provides local businesses with an opportunity to compete by using social media effectively to carve our unique identities and offerings.

I believe the future is bright for businesses in the region. There has never been a better opportunity to get ahead of your competition, however large.

We work with  retailers who are thriving; their resilience and success a result of using savvy approaches, supported by intelligent systems that help them automate repetitive admin tasks, allowing them to serve niche audiences and deliver the personalised experiences and immediacy that today’s customers expect.

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