How the customer is served has been one of the biggest evolutions in the retail industry’s digital transformation journey. Today’s customer wants omnichannel options, and each channel, whether in-store or online, must be a well-oiled machine delivering seamless, effective service. Today’s customer also prefers retailers to understand their needs and cater to them with greater personalisation than ever before.
“Meeting these customer needs requires a connected, digitised supply chain,” says Lerato Motsoeneng, Managing Executive for Retail and Logistics at Vodacom Business. “Without the right digital infrastructure in place, retailers can’t evolve their user experience.” This infrastructure enables the creation of a retailer’s online presence and e-commerce platform, but it also powers in-store activity such as payments – when a payment system is offline, trade is lost. Connectivity enables a retailer to offer in-store Wi-Fi to customers as well, and, from this, insights can be gleaned from usage data to drive more personalised marketing efforts.
Connecting retailers to their suppliers
Connectivity also enables door-to-door delivery, which has been particularly pertinent in supporting a fast-growing online retail sector: groceries. Even in the first year of the Covid-19 pandemic, 54% of South Africans were buying more groceries online. “Two years on, customers no longer think twice about purchasing their groceries online, knowing that it’s secure and they’ll quickly be delivered right to their door,” adds Motsoeneng.
This means that retailers also need to be connected to their suppliers more than ever before to enable them to keep up with the online shopping demand brought about by the pandemic.
To this end, Vodacom boasts a platform, the Trading Bridge, which drives operational efficiency between trading partners, connecting retailers to their preferred suppliers. One of the many benefits of the Trading Bridge platform is the ability to manage the information flow between trading partners to improve supply chain efficiencies and business service levels. The platform currently supports over 3000 Corporates and SME trading partners.
The future of smart retail
The future of smart retail is underpinned by the ability to have reliable cost effective ICT infrastructure. To this end, Vodacom Business has introduced and is deploying Software-Defined Wide Area Networking (SD-WAN) technology at various retailers, allowing our customers to have a digital future ready network.
SD-WAN is a technology that enables agility by simplifying network management without sacrificing reliability or quality. Retailers using the scalable Vodacom Business SD-WAN solution can enjoy improved network connectivity and security, cost savings, and better business visibility enabling increased efficiency. This solution streamlines networks across multiple locations locally and internationally. As a result, retailers are uniquely equipped with a single-pane view of all data across multiple assets, locations and resources (such as the people involved, from staff to suppliers).
As supermarket and hypermarket retailers have a lot of cost pressures, driving efficiency is key to survival in difficult economic trading conditions. “Fortunately, many have unlocked this efficiency with Vodacom as their digital partner of choice,” concludes Motsoeneng.