Today’s top brands in the retail and hospitality industry know that your digital transformation doesn’t need to be dramatic or holistic to be effective. The real key to staying in front of your customers is to deliver exceptional experiences while more effectively promoting your brand. Retail companies are boosting investments that greatly enhance the customer experience in order to stay relevant, and thereby, competitive in the era of the omni-channel consumer.
This is the second in a three-part series of conversations with Jay Edmundson, vice president of advanced technology solutions at CenturyLink, discussing the hurdles holding companies back when building their digital strategies and how they can best move forward. Previously, we talked with Jay about overcoming the hurdles holding some companies back from digital transformation. In this conversation, Jay draws on his 20 years of experience with a range of Fortune 100 companies to offer real-world tips for retailers looking seize the opportunities made possible by today’s digital transformation.
Q: What are you focused on in advanced technology solutions for the retail industry?
A: I’m involved in a great deal of fascinating work these days in helping our customers become more efficient, while also making it easier for them to explore some of the technologies that can help them advance their business transformation.
Here’s just one example. We’re currently working with a retail client on a mobile point of sale (MPOS) system; they have hundreds of sites they must deploy and manage. In the spirit of taking small steps, we are focused at the moment on simply adding managed Wi-Fi into their environment. It’s not a grandiose step, but still allows them to rethink how they connect their POS systems.
Q: How does a more efficient POS system lead to rethinking other parts of a digital transformation?
A: Being able to collect more information from the POS can be transformative. It has led to conversations about electronic shelf labeling, how the retailer can advertise inside its retail stores, how it can enhance the customer experience, and how it can learn more about its clientele. The retailer can also enhance the employee experience. By adding Wi-Fi on top of the MPOS, their employees can communicate and be more connected to the business—as well as to their own needs as an employee.
These inquiries have also led to us exploring data analytic strategies, which prompts new questions, including: How does a retailer think more about its consumers and their buying habits? How often do they visit? What did they purchase? How do we then look at segmentation within that customer set? A lot of data analytics starts to transform how you think about your customers—and your business. In this case, CenturyLink provided the network, Managed Wi-Fi solution and the data analytics, plus provided the expertise from installation to the data science needs of the enterprise.
Q: Do many retailers start down the path of digital transformation by looking to enhance efficiency?
A: Absolutely. Another consideration we are discussing may be one of the most advantageous, especially for those that have not developed a digital transformation strategy. Here we’re talking about managed services from the standpoint of the day-to-day tasks that their business is constrained by.
CenturyLink has an expansive portfolio to allow its clients to choose one or many options to enable their path. Transformation can be sparked by removing lower value tasks from IT to allow the business to shift its focus to innovation or client experience efforts.
Something that is often requested is for us to assess an enterprise’s current IT operations and give our clients the information they need to make better decisions moving forward. For example, CenturyLink monitors thousands of client end points in the network, data center and up to the applications. We frequently can show enterprises not only how to save dollars, but how to add more value and security to the work performed. That frees up critical time, resources, and budget to devote to more differentiating business initiatives.
The lesson here is you can experience real benefits with even a modest modular approach, such as adding Wi-Fi. If you’re in the retail industry, your digital transformation doesn’t need to be dramatic or holistic to be effective.
Take the Next Step in Your Transformation
Businesses today need to examine their digital infrastructure to ensure it’s a reliable, satisfying experience for the growing number of omni-channel consumers. CenturyLink understands how to deliver secure and compliant customer experiences across retailers’ online eCommerce, POS, payment processing, supply chain, CRM, marketing automation and data analytics systems.
I encourage you to review the findings from the CenturyLink-commissioned survey with 451 Research to see what the world’s most innovative retailers are saying about digital innovation in Retail. You can also take advantage of a personalized Executive Strategy Session with my team of experts to help identify the best strategy for your digital transformation.