If you’re a retail-focused solution provider, it might feel like the volume and rate of change in the industry is happening at bewildering speeds. The truth is, retail technology has been evolving for more than a century. What we’re experiencing today is just the most recent cycle of retail innovation. While these changes might feel overwhelming, they are actually creating one of the biggest opportunities this industry has had in decades.
Business needs drive change
It doesn’t matter what retail technology you look at historically, there’s always been a business need driving the change. Going back to 1879 when James Ritty unveiled the first mechanical cash register, the business need Ritty hoped to address was his employees stealing from him. His Incorruptible Cashier was built to keep track of the number and amount of sales made at his saloon.
Eventually, the Ritty patents were sold to John Patterson, who founded the National Cash Register (NCR) Company. It didn’t take long for NCR to add paper receipt functionality to the devices, again, serving a business need—further enhancing fraud protection by recording transactions for bookkeeping purposes.
In the decades that followed, cash registers would be improved in many ways, incorporating peripherals such as barcode scanners to save time and make it easier than ever to track inventory.
At the same time, how people pay has changed. Cash drawers and tills evolved to accommodate more paper currency. In the late 1950s through the early 60s, we saw the mass introduction of credit cards.
For each new technology, there’s been a solid business case. Gift certificates in the 1980s were initially created for charity donations. Touchscreen-based POS (1986) made it easier than ever to handle complex cash register functions, such as those found in restaurants. Perhaps the first customer experience-focused innovation came in the mid-90s with the advent of online ordering. Gift cards were also released in the mid-90s, reducing fraud associated with gift certificates. The list of innovations continues right up to the current day.
Modern-day opportunities in retail IT
Today, there’s a range of powerful solutions available to your customers. Here are just a few:
- EMV upgrades
- Mobile POS
- Mobile payments
- NFC-based/mobile wallet payment acceptance
- Self-service kiosks
- Loyalty programs
- Pay-at-the-table solutions
- Customer surveys
- Guest Wi-Fi
- And more
Sure, it would be easy to feel overwhelmed by this list, not knowing where to get started. Here’s a hint: start by talking with your customers about their biggest needs. Armed with that knowledge, you can then take steps to determine which of the latest generation technologies and services you should offer.
Focusing your solutions on solving business needs is a proven winning formula in the retail market. If you want to turn this formula into sales, contact Ingram Micro’s Daryl Schuster for additional assistance.