As difficulties on the high street continue to dominate the headlines, the retailers that were once thriving are now struggling for market share against the bigger players and ecommerce led businesses. And with consumers becoming more demanding than ever and in-store technology reaching new heights, retailers may feel like they are constantly playing catch up.

With this in mind, Tom Downes, CEO, Quail Digital, discusses the importance of putting the customer at the centre of the engagement and only implementing those technologies that will really have an impact on the business.

Connected stores, transactionless checkouts and RFID technology are just a few of the retail innovations that have plagued the industry in the past few years, with many retailers feeling they need to overhaul their experience to keep up. But as the recent figures from Debenhams and House of Fraser show, retail is a struggling arena and those who understand which technologies should take centre stage are the ones who will survive.

Retailers really need to get the foundations right before trying to expand their in-store technologies beyond the essentials. Revenues and footfall are still huge measurement areas for retail and as they continue to fall the only way to revive this trend is to empower store staff. By equipping staff with productivity tools like headsets, retailers can ensure communication and efficiency is covered across the store. Allowing the store associate more time to offer a personalised experience, a quicker checkout experience, or even some time to analyse behaviour of consumers in store to find out what technologies they really do expect.

In a changing retail model, these technologies to empower the store associate have an essential role to play in enabling a good customer experience across every touch point, from seamless click and collect to answering complex product questions. Enabling store managers to optimise staff resources in real time, from anywhere in the store, helps to improve productivity and efficiency; but it is the way in which store associates respond to the ability to communicate immediately and work together as a team that can support the increasingly dynamic and multi-role in-store operations.

Being a customer-centric store will give retailers a competitive advantage and also ensure they don’t fall into the trap of trying to play catch up with the retailers that aren’t in the same market. Not all consumers want a virtual, connected, digital service in store, some just want a friendly, efficient process that starts with the store associate being able to fulfil their needs. And unfortunately, many retailers are still not able to offer this seemingly simple set of requirements.