, Singapore

Data remains crucial for retail operations

Retailers should ensure that they have a clear data roadmap and integration capabilities.

With various technologies and solutions coming in, retailers should continue investing in data as its benefits encompass the entire value chain from customer and employee experience, and data inventory to organisation efficiency.

In a fireside chat with Cegid Commercial Director APAC Marco Lim, GOC Retail CEO Gavin Fielding said many companies are afraid of data because they are “ill-prepared” for it.

Fielding reminded retailers that they should have a roadmap for managing and controlling data, along with an integration strategy.

“You can have the most fabulous transformation strategy and journey and plan for technology in your business, but if you get the integration capabilities wrong–that piece of kit that sits in the middle of the universe and enables that amazing sort of flight of data between systems so that you can use it–you're wasting your money,” he said at the Retail Asia Summit

The GOC Retail CEO also spoke on how brands can recalibrate their point-of-sale strategy and other key factors they should consider in their digital transformation. Read more on his insights:

Lim: Can you tell us a bit more about yourself, from your journey leading retail brands to now servicing them in their digital transformation journeys? 

Fielding: I sold my first bar of soap when I was 12 years old on the shop floor and I haven't left the industry since then. I've been lucky enough to have several different positions. 

When I finished my time in retail and moved into consultancy, I was leading several Australian retailers with a global presence. But I think the reason I made the move was I was approaching my 40s. I thought I was a fork in the road. I thought, what am I going to continue honing my craft in the retail space, or am I going to get into the realm of helping retailers navigate technology because technology has always been a part of what I've done in my career. I've loved every minute of it


Lim: To meet evermore complex O2O needs, the role of UX has evolved from a point-of-sale to a mobile point-of-service. From your experience servicing all these different retailers, how can brands rethink their POS strategy to better serve consumers? 

Fielding: A point of sale is no longer just a debit and credit inventory transaction-keeping machine. It's a point of service. It's where you have conversations with your customers on the shop floor. 

When we talk to our retailers who come to us, whether they’ve got 10 stores or 3,000 stores, we typically start focusing that conversation around the point of sale on various areas such as AI/ML, Simplifying Operations, Fast Checkout, Mobile Operations, Inventory Intelligence, and Cart Abandonment. 

For example, when you take fast checkout, what does it mean? Fast checkout today is very different to what fast checkout was 12 months ago or two years ago. If you want to make things simple internally with your current businesses, when you're talking about what the future of point of sale looks like, make this your starting point and ask yourself some really hard questions about what it means for you to have a fast and efficient checkout.


Lim: Today, there is a vast amount of data. One of the challenges for retailers is how to make sense how to make the best sense of it. So from experience, how can retailers harness the power of data that comes from different systems to improve their operations or make more sales? 

Fielding: To be quite frank, data is scaring a lot of people and a lot of companies right now because they are so ill-prepared for it. But with respect to harvesting information, all our solutions, like the CEGID point-of-sale, and the other peripheral tech pieces of technology, are getting clever at bringing in and collecting a lot of good information. 

But in respect of how to leverage data, think of it in silos. I often have this conversation again, in very four simple points. What data can you leverage to generate or have and facilitate data-driven conversations around, for example, predictive analytics, inventory management, and inventory control? 

The second bucket of conversation around data is how can you improve the customer experience. The third one, which sometimes is not often looked at because it’s always about the customer, is how you can leverage or harness data to improve your organisation's efficiency. 

The one that I often see, which is very rarely spoken about, is how can you leverage or harness the power of data to improve your employee experience? Your employees on the shop floor are the ones that are generating the revenue for you. So, what type of Information are you sharing with your employees to make their time on the shop floor enjoyable and allow them to execute their roles with finesse? Don't forget about the employee experience. So it's as important as the customer experience.


Lim: Data is key, and you need the right talent to tap into it. One of the challenges is that retail companies find themselves fighting for the same talent as other tech companies. Could you share with us one common challenge that retailers face that perhaps they underestimate or overlook but that hinders their digital transformation journey?

Fielding: It has got nothing to do with tech but one problem for retailers and other industries as well for a long time is the underinvestment in the change management process. How do your teams adopt and use the technology that you are bringing into your organisation? Because if you get that wrong, you're wasting your money on digital transformation. 

The other thing is that, because retailers are time-poor, typically cash-strapped, and are very mindful of spend, they relinquish the transformation journey or the decisions around the selection of technology to the technology team. That is the wrong decision, retailers need to understand that it is not the technology teams’ decision to select technology, it is to facilitate conversations with the wider business to extract information about what you need in that business to function. So don't let the technology team run off making calls on technology and make sure you invest funds into the change journey.


Lim: As a parting thought, if there's one thing that you believe retailers should start investing in, what would it be? 

Fielding: Retailers should invest in data. There's two out two elements to the data conversation: data maturity and data management strategy. What is your roadmap for data? How does it come into your business? How do you clean it? How do you utilise it? How do you educate your team?

The second thing that sort of is in parallel to that is, what is your integration strategy? You can have the most fabulous transformation strategy and journey and plan for technology in your business, but if you get the integration capabilities wrong–that piece of kit that sits in the middle of the universe and enables that amazing sort of flight of data between systems so that you can use it–you're wasting your money. Make sure you get your roadmap right and make sure you get your integration capability squared away.

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