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Together Forever: Retail and Technology Walk Down the Endless Aisle

Feature Article | November 30, 2017 by Judith Magyar

My daughter Kyra discovered Ted Baker when she was working in London. “The first items I ever bought were a mint green T shirt with a white bow and a cosmetic bag with the French bulldog signature bow,” she says. “And I love how Ted delivers. My cashmere sweater arrived in a beautiful green box in a nest of colored tissue paper.”

Ted sure knows how to delight and deliver. Shops used to be the only point of sale, but with the opportunity to add digital channels, Ted can deliver even better.

Ted ticks all the boxes when it comes to the top trends in fashion retail. The company is thriving because it produces quintessential quality fashion in a sustainable way. The company  deftly “retailtains” its customers by giving them a unique, personalized experience in the store, and at the same time, making shopping so convenient there is no excuse not to indulge.

“Customers don’t have time to wander around endless aisles in large stores. If people can easily shop online and have things delivered at home within hours, you need something really enticing to get them into the physical store,” says Maria Morais, who helped Salmon implement the entire SAP Hybris solution back in 2013 when Ted Baker started its successful digital transformation journey.

“Small specialized stores are perfect for the urban environment,” she goes on to explain. “Although there is no space to stock a large selection of items, technology enables the customer to virtually browse ‘endless aisles’ of goods in the store and have their purchases delivered at home, at work or via click-and-collect at other stores.”

Salmon helps retailers like Ted implement end to end solutions that drive and support ongoing expansion into new markets, helping them gear up for future growth. Most recently they helped Ted introduce a slick payment app using PayPal technology that is used on the employee’s tablet in the store to help the customer securely order and pay for any item in the entire product range, whether it is in stock or not.

 New Opportunities for a Balanced Approach

Ted’s story is just one example of how technology and retail are joined at the hip as they cater to customer demand for convenience. While current trends present enormous challenges to retailers operating out of large stores, they also open a world of opportunity for start ups and entrepreneurs.

“For many retailers, the store is a big black box,” says Guillaume Waline who co-founded Indigo-Media, a futurist shopping solution, with Laurent Meoni in 2015. “There is a lot of information in that box, but they can’t see it, and don’t understand its potential impact on sales. Many players in the retail service industry have come up with solutions to help retailers access data, but there is still a lot of room for improvement in terms of a complete merchandising dashboard.”

Indigo’s solution enables brands and retailers to set up ‘responsive shops’ that collect data to interpret the customer’s behavior in the store as they enjoy interactive shopping experiences.

“Retailers should not sit around waiting,” warns Guillaume. “Those who don’t deliver enhanced in-store experiences and who don’t respond to product performance data during the purchasing situation won’t thrive in the new commercial environment. They’ll have alienated the modern customer and their competitors will outperform them. We can help them transform their stores into smart spaces for a modern society.”

Plenty of Space for Startups

Guillaume and Laurent know the current customer in-store experience is not interactive enough. “People still feel lost in the store. If they can’t find products or information, they get frustrated and walk away,” says Guillaume.

Indigo provide brands and retailers with a big data platform, running on SAP HANA with powerful analytical tools, that enables real time merchandising based on data collected through invisible units in the store. “We saw a business opportunity when we realized that retail is an open market for big data. Early on, we applied to the SAP Startup Focus program,” he adds.

SAP Startup Focus is an accelerator program that works with startups in the big data, predictive and real-time analytics space (machine learning, AI, data security, IoT, mobile, AR/VR), to develop new applications on SAP technology and accelerate market traction.

“The program has been enormously helpful in terms of business development, helping us scale and build a base of new clients. We got to work with leaders in the data market, giving us a cutting edge position and accelerating our go-to market.”

Innovative tools, bright minds and startup programs are all helping retailers like Ted delight customers. “My face lights up when I see a Ted Baker shop,” says my daughter Kyra. And I must say, that ankle length, high neck, floral gown she wore to the registry office for her civil wedding really was stunning.

Follow me on Twitter: @magyarj

This story previously appeared on Business Trends on the SAP Community.

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