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As retailers face increasing pressure from a variety of competitors, including e-commerce, it’s more important than ever to tap into retail technology.

Retail Technology and Inbound Marketing

According to the Retail Solutions Providers Association (RSPA), the retail technology industry -- essentially the portion of the IT channel that focuses on retailing -- is comprised of:  

  • Resellers (of retail technology products and services) (VARs)

  • Distributors

  • Hardware manufacturers (OEMs)

  • Software developers

  • Consultants

  • Service providers

Top Retail Technology Pain Points and Needs

From the standpoint of Gartner, the market research firm with very strong roots in IT, “retail industry leaders are under more pressure than ever to do more with less within technical and market environments that evolve every day.They must maintain lean technology portfolios that reduce operating costs while positioning the enterprise for growth and delivering a consistently high quality of service.”

Trade publication Business Solutions Magazine has highlighted four areas of strong demand within retail technology to focus on: 

  • Mobile devices (especially tablets)

  • Mobile applications (POS)

  • Inventory management systems that allow for seamless operation across brick and mortar stores and the Web

  • Security systems to combat theft and fraud

In addition to these four hot areas, other needs for retail technology solution providers to consider include:

  • Big data to extract actionable insights from huge data sets

  • Digital signage

  • Ecommerce

  • iBeacons

  • Kiosk technology

  • Mobile wallet integration (e.g. ApplePay)

  • Payment processing

  • PCI compliance

  • Point of sale (POS)

  • Printing and labeling

  • Retail supply chain

  • RFID

  • Social media to drive customer loyalty

  • Surveillance

  • Visual analytics as a traffic counting tool

What Motivates Retail Technology Decision Makers

There are a number of pressures and trends motivating retail technology decision makers.

An article on Forbes from the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) on 3 Major Tech Trends Transforming The Retail Landscape identifies three game-changers for retail technology: 
  1. Online stores are beginning to replace retail stores -- (“The way of the future is clearly to commit fewer resources towards opening brick-and-mortar stores and instead, cultivating virtual ones.”)

  2. Mobile device penetration is forcing intense price competition and major website investments -- (“Smartphones...force retailers to keep their prices competitive and their Web presence active — lest they lose out to more aggressive online retailers and flash sale sites.”)

  3. The retail experience will change -- (Much more personalization and interactivity are on the horizon.)

And showrooming -- the practice where consumers visit a retailer to try a product, but have every intention of purchasing the product for less money online -- will continue to be a thorn in the side of virtually every retailer.

RetailNext, a leader in applied big data, surveyed retailers to find out which retail technology trends are top of mind (in descending order of votes): 

  • Omni-channel retailing (for a seamless consumer experience across nearly every available shopping channel)

  • In-store mobile POS

  • Big data

  • Mobile commerce

  • Showrooming

Marketing Retail Technology the “Old School” Way is Broken

Now if your company is a retail technology solution provider, and your job involves marketing or sales, you may have noticed that the “old school” marketing channels don’t work quite as well as they used to.

Why?

Quite simply the explosion of interest in mobile computing and social networking has fundamentally changed how people buy products and services.

Thanks to showrooming, retailers know this all too well!

But even B2B products and services, like retail technology, have a very different sales process today than they did even as little as five years ago.

What’s changed?

Think about:

  • When was the last time you answered your phone, landline or mobile, without checking caller ID?

  • When watching a TV show you recorded on your DVR, how often do you watch the commercials?

  • How many of your friends and family members have completely opted out of listening to traditional radio stations, in favor of a subscription to satellite radio, streaming music service, or a series of podcasts?

  • How many paper-based newspapers or magazines do you still subscribe to?

  • When was the last time you made a major purchase without first checking out the opinions of online search results or social media connections?

  • How often do you find yourself wishing that a salesperson would call you more often?

The world has changed. Consumers are fed up with interruption-based marketing, they’ve revolted and have “fired” a whole bunch of gatekeepers and intermediaries. And the same behaviors that people have gotten used to in their personal shopping “lives”, they bring to work as decision makers for retail technology.

Did you know that 57% of the typical B2B sales cycle is over before a potential client contacts any vendor? (Source: CEB on “Why Solution Selling No Longer Works”)

So, if your company isn’t in that consideration set, your company is either:

(a) not considered at all, or

(b) only contacted at the last minute for a time-wasting “bid” -- because your company is merely seen as an easily interchangeable commodity broker

Why Your Retail Technology Sales Process Needs Inbound Marketing

What can you do about this? No matter how much you want to continue selling retail technology the way you used to, most “old school” channels won’t work nearly as well as they used to -- and will continue to fade into oblivion at a pretty rapid clip, as mobile technology permeates our lives.

The answer?

Inbound marketing is all about making sure that your firm can

  • Attract the right visitors to its website

  • Convert visitors to leads

  • Close sales with new clients

  • Delight clients for long-term retention

Learn more about how retail technology solution providers can use proven inbound marketing services to find clients, retain clients, and grow.

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