The Internet is undisputedly so important both as an information medium and as a purchasing platform, that hardly any medium-sized or larger retail company can ignore it. No matter whether textiles, sports, toys, furniture or food: almost all product ranges are also offered online today. And not only through online retailers: At the latest since keywords such as "multi-channel" and "omni-channel" started to make the rounds a few years ago, most classic stationary retailers have also been operating online shops with the aim of enabling customers to enter the purchasing (decision) process at any time and anywhere via a wide variety of channels.
It has thus become an absolute reality that most classic stationary retailers also operate online shops and are thus confronted with all the challenges of online trading and also omni-channel coordination, with the extremes of stationary branch sales and online sales.
A further trend in Retail 4.0, which is intended to increase the purchasing rate, especially in the branch, is digitization at the point of sale. Although the use of digital technologies such as virtual reality, QR codes and sales robots in the stores is still being tested in some cases, there are also solutions that are already in use today and have proven their worth: smart mirrors in the changing rooms, through which customers can check the availability of goods and call up sales assistants at the touch of a button, or "digital shelf extensions" that seemingly seamlessly extend the range of goods offered on site for the customer.
Retail 4.0 in the Software Domains
Retailers are now almost universally relying on the new opportunities created by the Internet, mobile applications, smartphones, etc. Against the background of the constantly increasing demands of customers, suppliers and authorities, the retail industry continues to invest massively in "online" (web shops) and the digitalisation of marketing and sales processes.
Integrated ERP software | Material Requirements Planning (MRP)
The core of the software landscape in most retail companies is an ERP/MRP solution. The following applies: As heterogeneous as the retail sector is (e.g. retail vs. wholesale; food vs. fashion; stationary vs. online), the solutions are just as heterogeneous. There is no generally "best" ERP/MRP solution on the market; rather, a well "fitting" solution must be found depending on the individual circumstances and requirements.
Web Shop | PIM (Product Information Management)
In communication and e-commerce, it is no longer just about a single product; product-related alternatives, accessories, spare parts, sets or bundles (up-selling, cross-selling) are also offered. PIM systems collect all kinds of information on products in a central system, offer efficient options for data maintenance and data management and make this information available for internal use and, in particular, for use in various sales channels in a consistent, accurate and target group-specific manner (single point of truth).
Campaign Management| Plattform integration | Customer Loyalty Systems
Regardless of whether online or stationary: the key success factor is and remains customer frequency and ultimately the conversion rate. Their importance is so great that specialized service providers have formed to offer "conversion rate optimization". Whereas the focus in stationary retail was on the location, location and again location of the branch, in the online sector targeted marketing via Google and Co. plays a central role. However, not least because of the marketing costs involved in winning new customers, the focus is increasingly shifting to existing customer management and targeted marketing approaches to existing customers.