How technology has transformed the high street

Some may say technology killed the highstreet with online shopping becoming the favourable choice but how true is this? In actual fact, technology has paved the way for every industry by creating efficient customer journeys and providing better products and services for customers. 

For retailers, especially post pandemic, it has become clear that they need to ensure they adapt and continue to adopt new technologies in order to stay ahead of competitors and in accordance with their current customers. 

Technology plays a vital role in shaping how consumers think about their experience with a specific  retail brand and even helps define the very brand itself. This is where data comes in. Amongst this new technologically driven shopping experience is data. If retailers can’t use or access data efficiently, how can they truly improve and optimise the customer experience or overall sales? 

Alex MacPherson, Director of Solution Consultancy and Account Management at Manhattan Associates, shares his view on the importance of transport and distribution systems in today’s modern supply chain and retail landscape, and explains how retail technology needs to align with customer needs. 

Ensuring a transparent supply chain

The modern demands on supply chain organisations within retail have exceeded the ability of yesterday’s traditional, portfolio-based supply chain solutions. These traditionally created artificial boundaries between distribution and transportation capabilities and limited productivity and adaptability. 

Today, a reliable and robust supply chain eliminates these barriers by merging viewing, planning, optimising and executing supply chain tasks into a single application for retailers to benefit from. What is more, with traditional supply chain solutions, transportation, distribution planning and execution processes are performed independently. By unifying distribution and transportation, supply chains can unlock new levels of agility and responsiveness within operations, providing retailers with a blend of visibility and control across all supply chain operations like never before.

This approach, for example, lets retailers navigate seamlessly through shipments they are managing, or they can view the real-time status of an order. Further, as retailers comb through associated data gathered from these various, now joined-up systems, they are then able to take action on this information. This is because in-line operational analytics is built directly into these modern execution systems. Which means retailers can quickly make informed data-driven decisions that benefit the customer. 

How technology can ensure the customer needs

In a market where so many companies have chosen to adopt some form of digital path, retailers  need to focus on customers’ needs in order to succeed. Of course retailers need to ensure that their transportation and distribution systems are modernised and efficient, but, more importantly, they also need to consider that customers are increasingly purchasing goods across multiple channels. 

Pre-pandemic, retailer’s omnichannel solutions were in tune with customer needs and demands for that time. However, the change brought on by the pandemic accelerated the need for retailers to fine tune their consumer offerings. To further develop and support this change required, sophisticated, data-led and driven, customer-focused solutions.

As part of that, one important area some retailers have focused on is to modernise and develop  reliable transport management systems (TMS). Today, this is increasingly important to improve, as brands strive to keep up with today’s customer demands for product deliveries. 

For retailers to be successful here they need to consider using a tool that is an adaptive cloud based system; and which uses machine learning to automatically tune hundreds of traditionally manual transport-based parameters to produce optimal transportation and delivery results.

Today, shopping is much more than just an in store experience particularly as online shopping has proven big value throughout the pandemic.  Meeting the customer needs across all channels is a key objective for many retailers. However, this is hard for many to achieve as a ‘one size fits all’ approach to supply chain management. 

These factors mean retailers can further create and refine an excellent customer service that leads to brand loyalty . Within this wider scenario, what is important too is that omnichannel sales systems align with the aforementioned transportation and distribution systems, in order to drive the supply chain transparency and efficiency needed to succeed. 

Conclusion

Originally, the headache of having modern, cloud-based technology integrated into every layer of the retail customer experience might appear overwhelming. But, as retailers begin to see the potential conversion opportunities that could come from investments within smart omnichannel retail technologies, it is clear that the best foot forward comes from reliable technology solutions, thus being the mainstays of customer loyalty in retail. 

Retailers that chose to implement cloud technology across every part of their supply chain (including transport and distribution) to optimise their customer-brand promise are on the fast track to success in this increasingly digital-first retail landscape. 

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