It’s no secret that the number of retailers closing the doors to their brick and mortar space in 2018 is on pace to break a new record, one already set pretty high last year. With the recent announcements of more store closings like Bon-Ton (closing over 200 stores), Toys R Us, Sam’s Club, Sears and others, it’s hard to not be swept up in #Retailpocalyse.
But is it truly the end of an era of malls, big box stores and endless shelves of merchandise? We don’t think so.
Global retailers are in a transitional phase where they are facing increased competition from popular online mega companies like Amazon.com and overseas online portals like AliExpress.com. Utopia Global Director of Retail Solutions, Martin Printz, believes agility on the market is important to counter-measure the new and ever-changing environment. “Companies that master it will be the winners in the new retail normal,” says Printz.
A key element in providing that agility is to have systems that are quickly adaptable and can be re-tooled to support the change in processes. A fundamental component to this transition is controlling and maintaining the master data to help create a seamless integration and omni-channel experience. The customer can see something online and either order it outright or arrange to pick it up in the store. That same customer could be physically in the store and leverage mobile technology to quickly locate it in the aisle and shelf in which it resides. Ensuring synchronization across multiple systems and managing the article master at the master data level is critical for this type of customer to retailer experience.
According to an SAP Benchmarking study done in 2017, 69% of retailers consider it important to have visibility into the global inventory pool and optimize it for a “source anywhere, fulfill anywhere” model, but only 15% are able to do so.
This concept of end-to-end centralization of master data to control access and change ensures full data lifecycle control and standardizes and streamlines data governance processes across the full retail enterprise, something retailers need to do to succeed in a rapidly evolving retail landscape.
Printz also notes that a key differentiator for the brick and mortar retailers are their ability to offer the customer access to see, try, or touch an item (your full 5-sense experience). In addition, the customer can get instant support from the store associate. Although, many online retailers have been upping their game in the live support realm as well.
Companies that do not have this level of agility and the flexibility in systems and processes will not be able to survive the zombies (wait, wrong apocalypse) in the increasingly competitive market place. And no one wants to find themselves on the list of doomed retailers in 2018 and beyond.