All Point CEO Sean Quinn shares the highlights from last week's innovative tech trends sessionLast week’s Innovation Summit produced by The Lead was a gangbuster event packed to the brim with retailers, investors and next-gen vendors. Representing All Point, I took to the stage with Mattia Flabiano of Radiant Capital to talk trends regarding the next 5 - 10 years and what current (and emerging) things everyone needs to be thinking about. They gave me 10 minutes to make the most important points.
Elastic commerce is about having the ability to pivot, flex and change commerce paths quickly and painlessly, no matter what shows up for the business–and it’s now critical for retailers.
Coming out of COVID, retailers had a lot to reflect on regarding their ability to redirect their business to meet unexpected market conditions. Those that prepared wisely prior to COVID thrived. Those that thought about new technology but never really pulled the trigger? They quickly felt the pain when their stores closed.
What we saw come out of COVID truly cemented how imperative this is. When it hit, due to our unified commerce approach, our customers were able to quickly respond and refocus their channels. Because of a fully integrated tech platform, including a company wide communication platform, one client reassigned all store management to ecommerce in 48 hours–and he grew revenue 20x in one month. Even better? His website has since maintained that volume, even after stores reopened.
In general, smaller, up-and-coming, fast growth brands are better at “building for” than their larger, siloed, more established competition.
Bolt on Versus Build Up
Springing off of this first point, many retailers that didn’t make the move to embrace “elastic platforms” were dead in the water. Retailers know they need to do it but struggle to invest in new platforms, so they continue to “bolt on” to their old, antiquated ones. I liken it to buying the newest 35” HDTV 10 years ago for $4,000, then spending the next 10 years adding tech features to it to try and keep up with today’s TVs. For a a fraction of the time and money that was spent they could have gone to Costco and bought an 86” LCD with all the new bells and whistles, better quality and built in streaming for $800–and gotten what they wanted in the first place.
It’s no different in retail. Operations needs to drive IT! I preach it everyday. When operational needs change, when you need to change the way you engage with your customer and, most recently, where you engage with your customer, then your tech needs to change to keep up with it…and quickly.
Retailers that are ‘digital first’ or DTC (direct to consumer) behave exactly opposite…they know it’s all about connecting with their customer and that technology drives that connection. They are usually more willing to adopt and integrate new tech quickly, then put it to work creatively. Their pitfall comes when they open brick and mortar stores and just copy their ecommerce experience there. This never works. Bricks are different than clicks, and the in-store experience needs to complement the brand experience on-line…but not duplicate it.
The last big trend is the question we’re hearing the most–“can I get rid of the cash wrap”.
Yes, it’s a cool idea. But it’s not right for everyone. It depends on the brand, the customer, the kind of store, and the expectations previously set regarding in-store experience.
Think about it in relation to self check out. Does anyone really love it? Or are we doing it because it’s less painful than waiting in line?
The key point is that just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should…in every case anyway. The cash wrap is the last brand ‘touch’. It’s a chance to genuinely thank a customer, capture data, offer a suggestion or a simple genuine smile. Take Trader Joe’s for example…they’ve turned it into one of the most loved customer interaction points! But for other brands that promote a more personal, clienteling-inspired sale, a one-to-one intimate checkout may make more sense.
Regardless, you can’t have this conversation if you don’t have the right technology. This is just another area where All Point can help brands big or small…we do epic shit everyday 🙂
Everything comes back to removing friction or creating great customer experiences. You HAVE to be able to meet the customer where they are, on their terms, with an experience that stands apart and makes them happy that they’re doing business with you. The right tech investments can help you do this while also reducing overhead.
We’re always standing by to answer your questions!