Now that the holiday shopping season has come and gone, it’s time for retailers to evaluate how well their technology held up in 2019 and what is needed to ensure a seamless experience in 2020. With major disruptions to the retail industry continuing to unfold, retailers will need to continue fighting for each and every visit to their physical and digital stores. To do so, they need to trust that their technology will work to keep things running smoothly and efficiently. The last thing retailers need is for their technology to let them down and risk jeopardizing their coveted customer relationships.

The Impact on Sales Is Real

A technology breakdown can have grave impact on sales. Our research has shown that every minute store associates are on the phone with tech support is another minute they aren’t helping customers and therefore are losing out on sales. In fact, average lost revenue is $1,000 per store/month so if you have 100 stores, you can lose up to $1.2M annually.

Shoppers Are Counting On Your Tech Too

Shoppers are becoming more and more dependent on retail technology to enhance their overall experience. According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), 80 percent of consumers believe retail technologies have improved their online shopping experience and 66 percent said that technology improved their in-store experience. In short, shoppers, too, are relying on technology to make their shopping experience more seamless.

Your January Checklist: Most Critical Needs of 2020
To maximize sales year round and give shoppers what they’re looking for, now is the perfect time to figure out what your brand needs most out of technology for the coming year. While you’re busy finalizing your 2020 business goals, make sure these items make your January list:

1. The right POS system.It’s essential that your point of sale technology (POS) not just be dependable and effective, but that it is easy for sales staff and customers to use.  Our KWI Cloud 9 POS solution, for example, has a user-friendly, intuitive design that mimics an eCommerce experience, so it’s easier for salespeople to manage. It’s built on Apple iOS technology so using it is as easy as launching an app on an iPad, resulting in less questions on set up and troubleshooting. In fact, our data shows that store associates using traditional Windows based POS make 3x the number of calls to help desk analysts than those using POS run on an iOS app. It’s a simple calculation–less calls mean more time and money saved.

2. Real-time updates.
Another benefit cloud-based systems offer is updates in real time. For instance, if a price has changed or is listed incorrectly, retailers can make the change right away and update it across stores instantaneously. This means ensuring consistency and minimizing customer frustration.

3. Serverless Offline Mode.
Implementing a contingency plan for power outages or WiFi issues may help companies avoid losing major sales opportunities. Last Black Friday, J. Crew, Walmart, Lowe’s, Ulta and Lululemon all experienced glitches or crashes which caused significant distress for the retailers and shoppers alike.

At KWI, our Cloud 9 POS devices are equipped to work in offline mode so a store can still process transactions and handle customer requests if there are connectivity issues. When connectivity issues are resolved, the transactions are uploaded to the KWI Back Office and payment information for processing. This results in no downtime for stores or missed sales, keeping things running smoothly and seamlessly. In addition, stores can set a threshold dollar amount or default to voice authorization to ensure no fraudulent transactions go through during this downtime.

4. Stackable technology.
As shoppers become more informed and decisive, winning brands will be ones that best identify customer pain points and leverage technology to help provide the answer. The best tech stacks address consumer obstacles surrounding shopping experience and convenience and provide a 360-degree shopping experience.

For example, our Unified Commerce Platform is built from one central database, keeping retailers’ data in one place. Our users can access and share data across all of their departments, which improves transparency and communication while delivering the 360-degree, omnichannel shopping experience today’s shoppers are seeking.

To start 2020 on the right foot, retailers need to create the most optimal experience for their customers. And today, that means making sure their technology is ready, willing and able to handle growing consumer demands for fast-moving, multi-channel and real-time capabilities. As we kick off a New Year, it’s time to take a closer look at how well your current technology is prepared to handle today’s market needs. If there are any shortcomings, now is the time to make a change for the better.