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Bridging the Digital Divide in Retail: The Path to a Unified, Scalable Ecosystem

3 min read

The digital divide in the retail sector is becoming increasingly evident, separating brands that have successfully established comprehensive, integrated digital strategies from those that have not. The inability to leverage omnichannel, digital, and e-commerce strategies is a significant challenge for many retail executives. Disparate operational and analytical systems diminish a brand’s corporate intelligence and agility in the market.

The solution to this divide lies in creating a unified, scalable ecosystem that seamlessly integrates all aspects of a retail business. Such a system would provide real-time visibility, control, and scalability in the market, empowering brands to better serve their customers and stay competitive in today’s digital landscape.

Current Retail System Failures 

There are three major prongs where current retail systems are failing. These are:

Disjointed customer journeys 

According to a Salesforce report, 73% of customers expect companies to understand their needs and expectations. However, disconnected systems often lead to disjointed customer experiences across various channels, causing dissatisfaction and loss of potential sales.

Inefficient inventory management

A study by IHL Group found that retailers lose approximately $1.1 trillion globally due to stockouts and overstocks. Inefficient inventory management systems fail to provide real-time visibility into stock levels, hindering effective decision-making.

Lackluster ROI and efficiency

A report by Boston Retail Partners revealed that 81% of retailers are not realizing the full benefits of their omnichannel investments. This is primarily due to a lack of seamless integration between different retail channels and systems.

The Three Pillars of a Unified Retail Ecosystem

To resolve the above problems and make the necessary data connections, these are the core pillars of a unified system for retailers:

Centralized Data Management (Spaces)

A centralized data management system functions as a brand’s “corporate brain,” collecting and organizing data from various sources such as system integrations, digital touchpoints, and physical retail interactions. This mobile-friendly environment enables merchandisers, stylists, and executives to access on-demand insights and make data-driven decisions.

Seamless Integration (Connect)

An effective retail ecosystem needs seamless integration with global platforms to capture data across the entire value chain. By normalizing and organizing data from multiple sources, brands can simplify communication and ensure that all aspects of their operations are working together harmoniously.

Omnichannel Transaction Capability (OmniPOS)

Retail brands need the ability to transact anywhere, anytime to provide a frictionless experience for their customers. By enabling brands to establish more touchpoints with customers, an omnichannel transaction capability ensures the seamless integration of digital and physical logistics, empowering the workforce and driving business growth.

By unifying these three pillars, retail brands can access a host of benefits. For example, on the inventory side, they gain real-time visibility and performance tracking through mobile devices and improved inventory management based on sell-through rates and store stock availability. Globally, brands benefit from streamlined management of regional and international price lists and product catalogs, and accelerated markdowns and redistribution of excess inventory based on generated reports, as well as the ability to sell through store-specific web pages for excess inventory.

Other use cases for a Unified Retail Ecosystem include the area of merchandising, where it can help retailers identify demand signals, manage replenishment and stock transfers, and provide item-level economics for better decision-making. Additionally, it can integrate with global platforms such as Apple, Shopify, Elastic Search, IBM, Salesforce, and more, to synchronize sales channels, assortments, and product line segmentation. The ecosystem also enables retailers to provide omnichannel experiences to their customers, with hyper-localized campaigns, connecting digital and physical logistics, and capturing emerging customer preferences. These benefits help retailers streamline their operations, provide a seamless customer experience, and make data-driven decisions.

Bridging the digital divide in retail requires the adoption of a unified, scalable ecosystem that brings together centralized data management, seamless integration, and omnichannel transaction capabilities. By leveraging these interconnected components, retail brands can better serve their customers, respond to market changes more rapidly, and ultimately, stay competitive.