1 March 2019

Transformation. It might be an overused term, but no other word appropriately describes what the retail industry is constantly undergoing.

Technology has revolutionised the way the industry operates, switching the power from retailers to customers and driving businesses to move from a place of stagnation into progress by adopting new technologies.

Local and international retail decision makers recently came together to discuss what the next wave of tech innovation and disruption would look like across the industry at the 2019 Digital Retail Forum.

One of the key focus points by speakers at the forum was the fact that retailers risked losing ground if they were not able to keep up with the rapid pace that technology was driving the industry forward.

“Customer expectations have evolved to match the ever-connected society in which we now live, and so too must businesses adapt. The most important factor in optimising the use of new technologies is to improve operations and customer relations,” says Hymie Marnewick, managing director of XLink Communications.

Here are four ways that secure connectivity is likely to propel the retail industry forward in its bid to evolve along with the technological landscape:

1. Improve customer experience

A customer’s experience is defined by their perception and interaction with a business, and better relationships with customers are important for retailers as consumer experiences are now overshadowing products in terms of value. Surprisingly though, there isn’t much understanding as to how secure connectivity is crucial to the customer experience – one of the most important differentiators and drivers for growth. Not only does it instil trust in the retailer by its customers, but also helps to build new, personalised relationships and strengthen existing ones through the collection of better records on customer trends, customised loyalty programs and supply chain integration.

2. Frictionless Payments

Advancements in secure payment connectivity have already allowed for more businesses to offer card transactions, enabling them to offer what customers want – speed, convenience and ease.

Developments in secure payment methods include the move from dial-up to the cheaper GSM payment system as well as emerging technologies such as biometric and contactless payments, with the biggest impact currently being made by mobile wallet which allows individuals to store card payment information on an app and pay using their mobile devices.

Further improvements in payment connectivity will only make the least enjoyable part of the shopping experience simpler, straightforward and effortless.

3. Seamless omnichannel

Omnichannel is a multi-channel approach to servicing customers which integrates distribution, promotion and communication channels. This means that customers are able to, for example, check the inventory of a store on their PC, order products from their tablet and speak to customer care via their mobile phone and pick the product up at the desired location.

For this to operate smoothly, each moving part needs to be integrated into a single system and they need to communicate with one another.

Therefore, the inventory a customer sees online should correspond with what is in the physical store, customer care operators should be able to see where a customer’s products are and what was ordered, and the physical store should immediately know what a customer ordered online so they can set it aside for pickup.

Connectivity solutions providers offer integrated payment solutions, which include infrastructure and services for secure data processing and failover and asset infrastructure monitoring, that make a seamless omnichannel experience possible.

4. Mitigate risks

When systems are down, businesses lose money. Customers aren’t able to make payments by card and they can’t make use of various services offered by stores, such as loyalty reward programs. Reliable secure connectivity solutions providers help to reduce the possibility of downtime, while also ensuring that all connectivity solutions implemented are compliant with information and communications technology regulations.

This all goes to show that without secure connectivity, retailers would, at the least, face challenges when trying to optimise their operations, meet customer expectations and differentiate their establishments while keeping up with the ever-changing retail and technology environment.

As such, XLink has, as a leading provider of connectivity solutions for the retail sector, expanded its service offerings to offer our customers a wide choice of connectivity solutions, suited to each unique individual need, against a dynamic technology landscape. “By leveraging our expertise in data security, information and communications technology, IoT and integrated payment solutions, XLink will continue to cater to the retail sector to ensure compliance while driving growth and innovation.”


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