The shift from offline to digital commerce, which occurred as a result of necessity in this last period, was significant. According to a recent research by Adobe on the digital economy, the pandemic has accelerated the transition to online shopping for six years.

While the offer of digital experiences was already a focal point for the retail sector, Giancarlo Soro, CEO of Lexmark Italia, notes for us, the pandemic has accelerated digital transformation initiatives in all sectors, challenging the kings of the world.

As Mr Soro points out, this is confirmed by recent Nielsen data: 95% of them are planning to invest heavily in digital transformation.

While the opportunities for this transformation are interesting, there are many issues that have been created by this rapid transition to online commerce.

With more consumers now able to make purchases with just one click, customer loyalty has become even more difficult. Retailers also need to assess the future: while lockdown periods are a current reality, there will be times when consumers will be able and still want to access physical outlets.

To be successful in today’s market retailers need to invest in IT technologies that enable them to respond to changing demand, increase productivity, support supply chain requirements and offer customers better experiences both in store and offline, all to a

Survey, public cloud in retail: ideas, solutions, protagonists

In this context, Soro notes, the way retailers offer products are changing.

•Click & Collect options are increasingly popular, an increasing number of brands are creating •dark stores (physical or distribution centres where only online purchases are managed) and the shipment from the point of sale is becoming more and more widespread

Each of these trends has brought to the fore the role of critical infrastructure technologies such as printing. For example, behind the sales signposts, retailers need to handle a larger number of prints, which are essential to support online deliveries such as shipping labels, packing lists, receipts, return labels, thank cards.

All elements must be processed quickly, reliably and professionally to support the rapid delivery of the products that customers expect. On the commercial side, retailers are re-evaluated the experience within the point of sale and analysing how technologies such as printing can support the productivity of sales workers and the need for a fast service on which consumers rely.

The role of the Internet of Things and the cloud to provide greater technological stability and adaptability in operations has also become a priority according to Soro.

With printing, for example, retailers can use these features for remote support, eliminating the risk of possible machine downtime, identifying service problems or low toner levels before they occur. In the current environment, having an IT always on the piece has become a business imperative and cloud-based services and IoT help to guarantee it.

And finally, while many suspected that the pandemic could push sustainability to the bottom of the priority list, it actually had a reverse effect.

According to the Kantar Global Research Institute, Covid-19 has pushed sustainability to the top of the consumer agenda. At global level , 51% believe that it will remain a priority, while 22% think it is more critical than ever.

Retailers must respond to this growing interest, ensuring that any technology they adopt is characterised by a responsible approach • from sustainable design to efficient use until recycling.

There is no doubt that Coronavirus has completely upset the typical shopping path for consumers and given impulse to the e-commerce.

While this presents challenges, the retail sector can benefit from it in the long run by starting a transformation process, betting on a omnichannel strategy and investing in technologies, including printing, closely interwoven with value proposals It is important not to waste this opportunity: retail companies can use it to continue to be consistent and profitable.

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