Effective retail management in today's retail market is crucial to a brand's success. Keeping pace with constantly evolving retail management strategies is so important when you are trying to remain ahead of the competition. One of the current retail management solutions being adopted by different companies is to replace people with technology - but is this effective?
The limitations of technology - do people still have a role to play in retail management? The current reach of technology for ever expanding business is incredible. However, implementing technology to the point where it can take the place of people can be hazardous in a retail setting, especially in the retail food industry. In some industries, technology may seem like the most effective retail management solution, but in the retail food industry, employees still remain the most effective way to maintain a high level of customer service.
Take this example as an illustration of the importance of effective retail management:
Karen goes the grocery store with the intention of buying laundry detergent, and enters the isle where it is usually located. Having just purchased a new high-efficiency washer, Karen wants to know if HE detergent is required, or if she is able to purchase her regular brand, which is cheaper. Unfortunately, the HE version of the detergent she normally purchases is on sale, and has been moved to an end-cap. She looks around for a sales associate, but is unable to locate one. All she can find is a digital display which outlines the benefits of a particular brand of HE detergent - but does not tell her whether or not HE detergent is necessary. As a result, Karen decides to buy the competitor's product. A customer has been lost!
This is an all too common occurrence. Technology as a retail management solution often leaves the customer feeling unsatisfied and unappreciated. The ability to ask questions or to find products that have been moved is drastically reduced by replacing people with technology. When you are relying on retailers for the timely re-stocking of your product on the shelves or on their employees for the ability to provide the correct information about your product, an effective retail management solution is one that does not rely on technology in the place of an actual person.
Many companies have attempted to implement technology as an effective retail management solution, but have found it to be less than ideal. Esso, for example, tried to use digital screens at their gas pumps to market products in-store. However, after finding that it was not profitable or well received by their customers, the project was scrapped.
Maintaining customer loyalty and attracting new customers to your brand is the ultimate goal of effective retail management. However, implementing a technology based retail management solution, such as that of replacing people with digital displays, can have a devastating impact on your bottom line.
Not only does replacing people with technology as a retail management solution not meet the needs of your customers emotionally, it can also inhibit their ability to physically access your product. Building displays, product demonstrations or sampling, and product 'quick-fixes' are all unachievable with a retail management solution that puts technology in the place of employees.
Technology may be able to provide effective product information or teach customers about the benefits of a new product, but employees are the ones that ensure customers are getting the information that they want, that they can easily find the product on the shelves, and that they are able to get answers they are looking for.