I’m going to start by saying something that may or may not shock you. Most store systems originate from the 1990s, and yes, this includes the leading platforms running in most of the significant Retail brands out there today. But is this such a big problem when so much focus is on the digital channels and their investment? Yes – in a digital world, where transformation has been accelerated by COVID, using these ancient systems to try and cater to the modern consumer is disastrous. Here are some reasons why:
1. The role of stores is both important & changing
Firstly, Stores can play much more than just a pure transaction role but enhances the brand and customer experience. It’s clear now more than ever that customers are moving seamlessly between different types of online experiences and expect personalization at every touchpoint. The rise of digital has shifted the power wielded by retailers to consumers. Today, modern consumers can be more easily swayed by new brands who engage with them in the right way or offer them the correct type of convenience. In 2020, 56% of US consumers bought from a new online Retailer that they had never spent with before. But stores offer something different, a tactile vehicle to introduce new brands and breed brand loyalty in ways that the digital can’t. This means that they can play a unique role in the broader selling strategy. It’s well documented how important the Apple Store was to i-products.
This role is undoubtedly different from Retailer-to-Retailer. Nevertheless, in a world where consumers are switching brands, retailers need to re-imagine how their stores can become a differentiator in the digital battleground.
2. Legacy Systems are not flexible or modern enough
So if the role of stores is going to change because of technology, then the technology in the store itself needs to good – sadly this is not the case. There are so many more things that legacy systems need to do today, especially given the required Omnichannel nature.
First of all, there are APIs. In legacy platforms, integrating online and offline platforms through APIs is pretty much impossible. As a result, retailers fail to provide real-time information to their customers on stock availability, delivery options, loyalty points, discounts, and other important information leading to a fragmented customer experience. This prevents customer journeys too. If an application can’t integrate with the website or order management, how can it be a part of a streamlined click & collect process? Quite literally – the store cannot connect with the broader commerce ecosystem.
Next, speed of change. Legacy systems are built on dated, monolithic architectures and are extremely slow to customize, making simple processes complex as the system evolves. It is extremely common for retailers to be massively held back because their store solution is a black box that can’t be changed. The result is store applications that are entirely out of place in the modern world of technology. In the e-commerce sector today, digitally savvy consumers expect online platforms to perform with extreme speed as well as have a great look & feel. A slow website with outdated information will influence consumers buying decisions and drive them to another retailer. Retailers need open technology platforms that are easy to change, integrate, and keep relevant as their stores’ role evolves.
3. Transactions now need to take place anywhere, both in-store and out
Back when legacy platforms were designed and built, visiting a bricks-and-mortar store was the primary option for 90s consumers to fulfill their shopping needs – but that is no longer the case. With a limited number of channels around, Retailers were able to predict consumer journeys quickly, putting the balance of power in their hands. However, the rise of digital invented plenty of ways for customers to interact with a brand as disruptors came into play. From smartphones, and game consoles to wearables and in-car purchasing, digital disruption has widened the number of channels consumers can use to shop. Consumers now start looking for products online and purchase them in-store and vice-versa. In the store itself, selling is about much more than just a heavy-weight PC device. Tablets, handheld terminals, kiosks, automated camera systems, customer scanning devices, their smartphones, and “alternative” edge devices like magic mirrors all present whole new points-of-sale for the store environment. Checkout needs to be possible anywhere. This is a million miles away from how legacy systems were intended to be used. The same application that is supposed to facilitate checkout is now a blocker to in-store customer sales.
How Enactor can help!
Enactor is the Next-Generation technology platform for the modern retail world. The Enactor platform caters to modern retailers’ needs with superior customization and flexibility built into the core. Enactor’s API-driven POS and store applications can be adjusted extremely quickly, making it easy to plug into external systems and generally adapt to how the retailer wants to run their stores.