Six ways IT can modernise retail

How Microsoft Surface and 365 elevate employee and customer experiences - without breaking the bank

With the retail industry more competitive than ever, the pressure is falling on IT to provide solutions to underpin customer experiences - while doing more with less.

Retail IT and business leadership must find better ways to engage staff and evolve their omnichannel strategies so customers are equally satisfied when shopping online or in-store. Fortunately, with the right technology, modernisation isn’t as daunting as it sounds for IT teams still under pressure to do more with less. In this article, we’ll explain how modern devices and software can transform employee and customer experiences. 

With a lack of staff, shops don’t deliver the premium, convenient experiences consumers demand. Such is the extent of the problem that even post-pandemic, a new report by industry charity the Retail Trust has found that one in five (21%) British retail workers and nearly a third (31%) of people working for the UK’s biggest retailers are planning to quit the sector.

Improving employee experiences with technology

When it comes to employee attraction and retention, it’s tough to find a ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution because each team in your business has different needs.

That’s where technology comes in. Devices like the Microsoft Surface products intelligently combine with Microsoft 365 software and accessories specifically designed for retail, so you can give everyone with the tools they need to do their jobs painlessly — whether they’re customer-facing or behind-the-scenes. Here are just some of the benefits staff can enjoy:

1. Increased job satisfaction

Microsoft’s Work Trends Index report reveals that frontline workers rank the use of modern devices as one of the largest contributors to overall job satisfaction. Technology automates time-consuming, mundane tasks and frees up employees’ time so they can focus on high-priority activities without hassle. And, by harnessing the power of the cloud to centralise all aspects of your business, staff can instantly find everything they need at their fingertips — from communication and recognition platforms, to schedules, training and real-time inventory updates.

2. Real-time communication and collaboration

Gone are the days when inventories were only assigned to a physical store. With the increasing popularity of online shopping, supply chains and inventories are more complex than ever. Therefore, excellent communication between back-office, warehouse, and in-store staff is a must — otherwise, your employees may become bogged down with customer complaints.

The good news is, real-time communication and inventory management doesn’t have to be complicated. Digitising the end-to-end process means that inventory specialists can track and manage deliveries, operate supply chain ERP applications, and communicate stock levels with staff on the shop floor on one platform. Consequently, your users won’t have to contend with logistical nightmares or angry shoppers, and productivity will skyrocket.

3. Greater flexibility

Did you know that desire for more flexibility is one of the main reasons workers would consider a job change? Subsequently, retailers that offer greater control over scheduling will find it easier to attract and retain staff.

Equipping your team with tablet devices not only makes them more productive, but also allows them to maintain a better work-life balance when combined with an online shift management tool. Rather than going through the long-winded process of finding someone to swap shifts with or reminding their manager to approve their annual leave, employees can make requests directly on the platform in seconds.

Improving customer experiences with technology

Arming employees with the latest technology is not only a win for them; it’s a win for your business. Modern consumers want consistent experiences across all channels, so a digital-first approach helps you meet those expectations and maintain an outstanding reputation. With technology, you can provide customers with:

1. Reduced wait times

Online shoppers are used to instant gratification since they can purchase anything they need in just a few clicks. In contrast, brick-and-mortar stores often require people to wait in long queues before paying on clunky, outdated cash registers. So, to make your in-store and online experiences match up, speed is paramount.

Therefore, tablets are the ideal solution. Aside from working at lightning speed, they’re portable, meaning cashiers aren’t limited to standing in one place. Instead, they can attach purpose-built retail accessories — such as a barcode scanner — and accept contactless payments on the shop floor as soon as the customer is ready.

2. The ‘feel good’ factor

Today’s consumers are more environmentally conscious and believe that retailers should reduce their carbon footprint. So, opting to use devices that are manufactured sustainably is a great place to start. Companies like Microsoft aim to be carbon negative, and achieve 100% recyclable devices and packaging by 2030, empowering you to reduce your carbon footprint in the process.

Furthermore, modern devices and software enable back-office staff to conduct virtual meetings from anywhere in the world, reducing the need for travel. By committing to more eco-friendly business practices, customers can shop without worrying that they’re contributing to climate change.

3. Seamless omnichannel shopping

In recent years, we’ve seen more retailers adopt a multichannel approach to engage customers. Yet, engagement from those channels often isn’t connected and doesn’t work to nurture more sales.

To connect all the pieces of the puzzle, it’s worth looking for a digital solution that operates across all channels. Giving all your users access to a unified commerce platform makes it simple to join up your digital, in-store and back-office operations for a seamless customer experience that boosts revenue.

Modern problems require modern solutions

By using technology to eliminate common headaches, you’ll have a better chance of hiring the best talent and, in turn, guaranteeing you have the necessary resources to meet high customer expectations.

Partnering with SHI International

When you partner with SHI International, we take the time to work through your individual needs and understand the ways in which you use hardware and different systems in your business. From there we can work to integrate the best cloud solutions into your hardware to meet your sustainability goals and to tailor the hardware you use without the need for physical IT infrastructure (which is both expensive to run and takes up a great deal of office space).

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