09.10.2018 By: Bill Zujewski

There’s a digital revolution in brick & mortar retail and innovative tech startups are leading the way

As seen on Linkedin.

Retail is changing. All aspects of shopping are being digitized.  Brick & mortar stores are connecting to the online world and creating unique experiences.  Social media is connecting people with other shoppers and with brands. Artificial intelligence is predicting what customers need or want.  Augmented reality is letting customers visualize products and see how they look on them or in their home.  The result, a reinvigorated retail industry that is finally meeting the expectations of consumers and delivering on the vision of digitized unified commerce that connects the physical world with the online world.

Innovation is driving this turn around and in most cases the technology is coming from young start-up companies.  Tulip is empowering store workers with amazing mobile tools to assist with customers, clientele, checkout anywhere in the store, and get trained. Radius8 is leveraging analytics to provide insights on local shopping trends.  Reflektion  is using artificial intelligence to deliver individualized content and personalize recommendations. Brickwork is connecting online shopping sites to brick & mortar stores.  Hero is connecting online shoppers to store associates in real-time with chat and video.

The innovation in retail is massive.  Let’s just look at one aspect – the in-store experience.  If you’ve recently visited some of the more popular brick & mortar retailers, you’ve probably noticed store workers are using mobile devices such as iPhones and iPads to help them do their job. In many cases, the device was issued by the retailer as a single point solution: for taking payment, or checking inventory, or placing an online order. In fact, the retail technology industry has created point solutions for numerous processes in the store: Mobile POS, Clienteling, Omnichannel Commerce, Online Order Fulfillment, Appointments, eLearning, Shift Scheduling, Task Management, etc.  But in more recent times, retailers are going with a unified platform approach that offers many of these capabilities in a single solution and integrates point solutions seamlessly.  This new retail solution category is what Tulip refers to as “Store Associate Mobility”.

A Store Associate Mobility platform consists of integrated mobile apps designed to provide associates everything they need: product information, inventory, customer information, order status, sales guidance, and personalized recommendations. The platform also includes tools to improve effectiveness and efficiency of store employees including self-paced training, black book management, task management, time card management, scheduling, automated follow-ups, appointments, and mobile checkout.  Net/net: The Store Associate Mobility platform is a total solution focused on all of the retail worker’s duties and activities.

Tulip surveyed over 200 store associates to understand how they were using mobile devices to do their job. The survey found that 39% of employers issue a mobile device to store associates and that stores are beginning to realize that in order to stay relevant, equipping store associates with technology is a must.  The findings of the associate survey showed that mobile-empowered associates with access to the right customer and product information and the right mobile tools are elevating the shopper experience and building relationships to drive greater sales.  Retailers that have implemented mobile apps for store associates to lookup products, manage customer information, check out shoppers, and communicate with clients are seeing improved results, such as larger orders, higher conversion rates, increased sales, and improved customer satisfaction.

Net/net: Empowering store workers with amazing mobile tools using an “associate mobility platform” like Tulip is just one example of innovation in retail.  Our partners like Brickwork, Hero, Radius8, and Reflektion are all young innovative companies offering unique capabilities in many new areas.  We’re all proud to be a major part of this retail transformation. And our efforts are being recognized: Tulip is excited about being selected as a LinkedIn Top Startup in Canada. This list includes some amazing companies and further illustrates that industry transformation often comes from new innovative companies.

Weigh in: How has technology transformed the way you shop? Are brick & mortar retailers innovating fast enough? #LinkedInTopStartups

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