Many are talking about the demise of the High Street but small and medium retailers are not ready to give up. More and more of them are adopting technology to better serve their customers and respond with agility to the way Covid has shaken up the market.
‘Independent of our business we all use technology one way or another,’ says Julian Fisher, CEO at Jisp, who is going to be one of our speakers at ‘Micro-fulfilment: The New Era in Urban Logistics’ on 9th March 2021.
For the majority of smaller and medium size retailers implementing a technological solution was seen as too costly as their resources are scarce. In addition, a lot of them are worried how long it would take, how they could train their staff and at the end, if the solution
would really bring any value.
With Covid and restrictions mounting up smaller retailers were faced with another challenge. How do they follow the rules in tight spaces without losing customers?
According to Fisher, SMEs in the retail sector have come to the realisation that they have no other option but to adopt solutions that would open more channels and opportunities to serve the consumers.
As customers are becoming more aware of that they touch around the store, owners are looking into ways to make the experience safer. This could include offers that were traditionally seen as a territory for larger retailers like Scan & Go, Click & Collect and even Home Delivery. Technology could also help SMEs to deal with inventory issues and improve their overall customer relationship.
Fisher believes that the market has been transformed for good and what used to be the norm prior to Covid will no longer be. Jisp’s CEO continues by saying that implementing a solution doesn’t have to be hard. The company spends time with its customers in their stores to understand how it is managed and what problems staff have.
Additionally, retailers want to create a welcoming environment in their stores, and any technical solution needs to be part of that. Fisher points at the importance of creating a system that provides the same experience no matter how the customer shops whether it is online, through an app or
‘The problem with differentiating between online and bricks-and-mortar is that you have two channels that are clashing together,’ Fisher continues. The reality is that the same customers who are visiting the store are going online but they are receiving two completely different experiences. Very often however people would go online before they go to the shop, and this calls for unifying both channels.
Many retailers who have no experience with implementing technology in their stores might find it hard to navigate the market. For Fisher the first thing they should look for is what problems they have and find a provider or a solution that can help them. Implementing technology just for the sake of it will not have any benefits. ‘If the solution is not solving a problem it will be short-lived,’ Fisher says.
Jisp implemented one of its solutions in a small convenience store in the North of England where the owner was struggling to implement social distancing rules and serve all of his customers quickly. Many people, seeing the long queues, would just give up. By introducing Scan & Go, the store was able to improve spacing and speed as customers were able to get their groceries quicker. Fisher says the owner was surprised to find that thefts had not increased after the implementation debunking a myth that such solutions lead to more problems. ✷