Retailers need to go the extra mile in-store

Retailers need to go that extra mile in-store. In a difficult economy and in an age when the consumer is increasingly shaping the retail landscape, retailers need to up their game in-store and provide a journey that leaves customers wanting more.

Whilst a growing proportion of investment is going into online channels, to neglect stores is to neglect the brand and it is the brand that is the only thing that survives in both good and bad times.

And it’s not all about offering the cheapest prices to entice consumers to shop in-store, but focusing on the experience and convenience of service so customers feel there is added value in them visiting a store.

Some great examples of innovative services in-store include; order for home delivery if an item is out of stock at Next, iPads at Reiss that offer connection to its website, enabling the retailer to catalogue it’s entire product range in-store without having to stock it and media screens at Victoria’s Secret, displaying product demos and catwalk shows to better promote seasonal collections.

It is these kind of initiatives that generate real excitement amongst consumers, who spread the news via word of mouth and social media channels, creating a buzz and ramping up store traffic.

Ultimately, making the store a place worth visiting is about engaging with the consumer using interactive technology such as free Wi-Fi, mobile points of sale, online connection, special events, click and collect but also collect and click, and digital media.

It all adds up to a significant investment, but getting the store network right, with a core network to support the technology and manage the data, provides the platform on which to build the store of the future.

4G – hype or alternative to fixed line internet access?

There has been a great deal of news in the national media and on TV about the launch of 4G services in the UK, particularly since EE (formerly Orange and T-Mobile) was awarded the first 4G spectrum last year, resulting in the imminent auctioning of spectrum licences to other mobile operators and download speeds potentially faster than fixed line broadband.

The question is; have we at last found a technology that will replace fixed line broadband services in business premises and at home and therefore negate the need for a standard telephone line?

Well it’s not the first time the telecoms industry has faced this question. It was also posed when 3G services were launched in the mid 2000’s, offering theoretical speeds in excess of the fastest service at the time. The reality being, that even though 3G offers extremely fast download speeds, few of us have ever experienced what the technology is capable of.

The main reason for this is, congestion on the networks, or put another way, the networks have been unable to cope with customer demand, particularly since the explosion of smart phones and tablet devices. As a result, actual speed is greatly affected by a user’s location and how busy the local network is, i.e. how many times have you been stuck in a traffic jam or at a busy event and been unable to get a reliable connection?

Most network operators are investing significantly in their networks to support 4G, evidenced by the merger of T-Mobile and Orange, and Vodafone’s acquisition of Cable & Wireless. So we can at least hope that the experience on 4G will be sufficiently better than 3G. With the impact of the investment in networks by the mobile operators yet to be understood and Ofcom’s aim in auctioning licences to achieve 98% UK coverage by 2017.

The reality is that we won’t know for some time whether 4G will be a technology that we can use as a reliable replacement for fixed line network connections – particularly in a business scenario.

As a network specialist, Vodat International continue to monitor the progress of 4G services as they are deployed by the operators and will keep readers updated on its progress.