Storm Doris had been unleashed, and London was besieged by an aggressive bout of wind and rain. And yet, even the weather wouldn’t dissuade those representing a variety of retail and hospitality companies from joining us at the Gherkin. The eye-catching tower swayed from side to side, giving many the feeling of sea-sickness, but the attention of the attendees was drawn towards Miya Knights, from Planet Retail, and Roger Sowerbutts, from Zynstra. They provided key insights into the modern consumer's buying habits, how to provide them with a seamless omnichannel experience, and what IT systems you need to meet these demands. This post provides a roundup of what happened, for those who could not attend.
The first of the two to present was Miya Knights - Global Technology Research Director at Planet Retail. She took the audience through a snapshot of the modern consumer buying trends, and addressed the question that is frequently posed across the retail and hospitality industries: is the high street a forlorn hope in the 21st century? Far from it, claimed Miya, as she highlighted some illuminating stats that Planet Retail had collected through their own studies. Among the stats was the revelation that 57% of consumers whom had acquired items online, preferred to return them to a physical store. This alone shows that while the function of the high street is changing, it is far from dead, and indeed can function in symbiosis with online channels. It also proves that modern retail and hospitality branches require an efficient IT infrastructure to cater for this need. For all our reliance on the internet, we still prefer to feel that we are chatting to a human being when it comes to customer queries, returns, and so on.
Miya went on to specify the various elements of omnichannel retail that one needs to cultivate to get a sense of loyalty from one’s customer-base. The modern consumer wants a personalized experience catered to their specific wants and needs.
As Miya had detailed the landscape of modern day consumer trends and expectations, Roger Sowerbutts – Vice President EMEA at Zynstra – followed on from that with the technical requirements for running a fully omnichannel retail or hospitality business. Rather than focusing solely on finding a cheaper alternative to one’s current IT, Roger encouraged the audience to think of their infrastructure as a tool for enabling a more connected, efficient form of branch IT for a better customer experience.
Roger went on to stress the importance of having a versatile Hybrid IT system in this new age of 'declouding' - the latest buzzword of the IT sector. Roger gives a scenario that many IT professionals are all too familiar with: a business abandons all on-premise, physical servers in favour of the Cloud, only to realize how vulnerable they are when the Cloud fails. This is quite evident considering Amazon's latest outage, causing widespread panic and disruption. Such issues can cause real problems within your branches – no customer likes to be told that there's absolutely no way to process their payments because the IT systems have been rendered useless by a mere connection failure.
Transforming Retail & Hospitality IT Webinar
For those who missed this event, fear not; we will be hosting a webinar to re-cap on the key talks and points raised on Wednesday the 22nd of March at 11am GMT. Click here to register.