B2B Tech Talk with Ingram Micro
B2B Tech Talk with Ingram Micro

Episode · 1 month ago

The Future of Retail & Sustainability w/ Raj Pandya


The retail experience is rapidly advancing—from technology to new safety policies, there's no shortage of innovation. Customization, demonstrations, and conscientious data collection are running the show. 

Consumers can expect a ripple effect of procedures built to increase ease of use and solve common retail pain points. 

Darryl Merkli and Max Pollington speak with Raj Pandya, Commercial Director at Specialty Solutions, about: 

Sustainability in retail

In-person and online shopping advancements

Using data to improve the consumer experience 

To join the discussion, follow us on Twitter @IngramTechSol #B2BTechTalk 

Listen to this episode and more like it by subscribing to B2B Tech Talk on Spotify,Apple Podcasts, or Stitcher. Or, tune in on our website.

Once someone tries it, they want it, they're not going to come back and they're not going to return the product. Very high ticket items being sold, but the customer has full ability to make that experience for them pay off. Hi Rag, thanks for joining us today to talk about technology and retail. Thank you. So we wanted to start today by talking about Travis Perkins and they've revealed that they're making good progress against the ambitious science based decarbonization targets. The way that businesses are kind of trying to change their their corporate structures, the way that they do business to really focus on this real request from customers, from end users, to try and move towards a more decarbonized society. I think it's really interesting. There's a lot of ambitious targets out there. To achieve those, technology is really one of the key drivers to make that happen. Have you seen anything interesting? Yeah, and I think you know, to be fair, I think carbon footprint for everybody is important. It's important business and personal life. Carbon footprint targets are great set but you have to be able to achieve them. So I think you know from our perspective, particularly providing technology, we use that technology to ensure that you know our carbon footprint, our sustainability strategies can all be measured. So if you look at some of the technology that comes out within our IOT business, the sensors, the way that we can manage our time, we also are working with our partners to reduce deliveries. That's a real key part. So we encourage our partners now to go with ship completes. We incentivise them so we're not shipping multiple times and obviously that helps with our footprint and obviously, certainly transport costs as a whole reduces and in line with the carbon footprint. So I think as we move across the businesses are all going to focus on it as they are now, and I think the targets will get more aggressive and as they should do really, I think actually on this one, the support that we've had from our life cycle business has been really interesting. When I was writing our rewards for this year's entries, there's some fantastic numbers in there talking about how we're reducing carbon from the system, reducing waste and I think the life cycle services is a really important part of the channel, something that everyone is trying to invest in and get more involved in. Being able to add that to any business is a super valuable offering. Yeah, I couldn't agree more and I think, you know, the term life cycle is the most prevalent part of it. You know, making sure that the cycle of start to finish, we look at that carbon footprint. That's exactly what that business does very well. Yeah, Tommy Hill figure is entering the circular economy with rent or buy schemes as well. So that's something that's kind of I think this is a really interesting one. So before we were on camera we were talking a little bit about like renting and buying clothes. I think for me a renting scheme is a really interesting way of owning a garment, especially with the design brands as well. Yeah, definitely. I think maybe if you're going to an awards now or something like that and you need something to maybe stand out, that maybe an option. There's a there's a whole piece...

...around that kind of ownership, though. I think clothes have a lot of intrinsic value to people. But I think probably the most interesting thing is how do you keep reselling that product? How do you maybe skew it up? How do you manage the logistics of that. What happens if that item is late and needs to be sold on to someone? How does that sort of model work? Yeah, I think to be fair, I think it all goes down to what the total costol ownership is for not just the consumer but also the business that's offering the scheme, and I think clothing is quite unique in that in that sense because if you look from a retail's perspective, it's a high margin item if you can refresh that item consistently and the model that you've got in places very, let's say, you know, consumer friendly. Then I think technology drives the ability to be able to rent anything. It doesn't really matter. You know, closes an interesting one. So it's going to be very interesting how, Tommy, we could go with that because I think, you know, we've all grown up, you know, under peer pressure to be able to have designer clothes. You know it's not all as possible, but at the same time I'm sure we're all used to renting a suit or a Tuxedo because we need to wear it once or twice a year. Absolutely, and I think that sometimes designer clothing is exactly the same way. So certainly going to be keeping an eye on how Tommy Hillford goes there, because I think that can actually be the future of a lot of items that we just think we need to go and buy. And again, you know, the ability to measure it through technology is going to be invaluable. So you know some of the some of the technology they're using to analyze this is going to be really interesting with the dayawit spits out completely. And they're not the only ones as well. John Lewis have partnered with children's where rental platform to actually, was it the little loop, to actually do the exact same thing. And I've got a two year old and I've got another one expected soon as well. So there's that kind of quick sort of turnaround with children's clothes. I can actually see this kind of being a really good idea because you think, oh great, we could just get, you know, some more clothes in rent them not have to spend the price up front. But then you think how many times has this been around? The children's were like, how clean is it? Things like that, like what's the life cycle there? And they had that on Dragon's den, the little loop. It's an interesting company, interesting founder as well. I think, with children's clothes and I think actually, with any kind of rental scheme, it's that the responsibility side. It's if you're kind of buying into this, are you buying into it because you just want a cheap option for clothing, or are you maybe focused on more than sustainability side? And I think if you're focused maybe more on the implication, the ethical implication of that product, then maybe you treat it better, you look after it, you're maybe more responsible and more more trustable as a customer. So I think that really can add to it. It's about how brands build these platforms and build these systems using good technology to make it as easy and seamless as possible to have that experience. I think absolutely. I think sustainability here is the key. You know, talking from previous experiences, you know you're basically from from zero to certainly two to three years old. You know they shoot up, they grow so quickly. The fact is you are absolutely, you know, damaging the environment because...

...you're consistently buy new clothes and then consistently having to dispose of them because you can't find somebody that can use them. This is a great scheme because, to be fair, you really only need to keep a set of clothings for a few months. So if you can have a longevity of doing that, then I think one the cost of ownership for the individual. Certainly in the current climate where we all know, you know, living expenses are really high, adding to a newborn in the family is even higher. This is this is great and you know, I certainly absolutely believe that this will be the future as we go through, certainly maybe our generation, but certainly our next generations. This will be normal for them. You know, while we're all learning to think, do I really want to rent a piece of clothing, it would be nothing to the next generation. That will be what they do. Completely agree. stipping away from that sort of disposability of almost everything instead of making a longevity to things great kind of gives me a lot of hope, I think. Yeah, definitely, it's very optimistic. So I think some of our next stories we're talking a little bit more about kind of experiential retail. I think we've got some really interesting yeah, yeah, dyson's unveiled its second UK store at the Trafford Center in Manchester, which is great because it's not just look how great how vacuum cleaners are. They've actually got a whole suite of demonstrations of things that can show off their technology with, which is really cool. I think this one's wicked. So I remember when the apple store opened really locally to us and that was for me the first time I really experienced an experience in retail. It was all about kind of getting hands on. You had experts on one particular topic. Think it was a way that you could get really immersed into it. So instead of having to go to a till, you could walk around with the Apple Staff. You could kind of get hands on. They had their iphones with the scanners in so you could buy a product on the move. For me that was really cool. It's about really experiencing the products and knowing what I was kind of taking home. For me that then changed maybe my buying habit a little bit. Was More incentivized to go into store try it out. Uh. You know, I think what what Dyson have done is very, very clever, because you know, to have a retail environment is expensive, but also to have product being returned is more expensive. So I think what they've done is incredibly I wouldn't go as far as saying they've copied the apple route, but with with what they've done now, the ability to go in and actually use the product. You know, they've got that environment, being able to wash your hair, try, try the straightener, try their dry what that does is very clever. Once someone tries it, they want it, they're not going to come back and they're not going to return the product. So again, you know, we talk about sustainability and everything else. Absolutely, which means less packaging being used, less packaging being disposed of, very high ticket items being sold, but the customer has full ability to make that experience for them pay off. So I think it's certainly. You know, dyson will do that across the UK. I think these experiments, you know, these...

...experienced stores, are going to be what we see pop up a lot more now. Yeah, certainly, and I think it's great for everybody that technology environment, because we can actually see these stores using the immersive technology and the experience that we all are trying to encourage everybody to you. So you great stuff to see that happening. Absolutely, and I think this is probably not it's not new concept at all. Like you think about their the good food shows and stuff like that, where people have always showcased kind of products and seen them kind of come to life a little bit. Maybe you've got a celebrity chef using your latest Tifel Pan. That, I think, is a concept that only existed in like moments in time. You'd go to one event for one very specific thing and then that was it, done and dusty. You couldn't see it for the rest of the year. I think customer experiences a shifted completely down to instant moments. People don't want to wait for things, they want to see it. It comes to life right at that point. It's almost like a response to the sort of looking online for the reviews on something. But if you haven't experienced, if you haven't actually picked it up and see how it works, a lot of the time, well, I know I have. I've looked at some and actually, no, I won't get it this time because I don't know exactly what it's like. But you go to one of these experiences you go oh wow, look how much better this is than whatever product I was using before or that I don't even have. Yeah, it's gonna be a great step up. Definitely. Yeah, and Um MS has also unveiled a list and go new augmented reality APP which is sort of allowing customers to know where exactly in a store they need to go for things, which looks really cool. So I know I've definitely been on my own gun to a shop. I just need this, I just need to find it, and I've walked up and down the aisles over and ever again. So this is gonna be really helpful. I'm the amount of times I've needed to go into M and S and try and you're trying to track downline some Oregono or maybe some tooth page or something like that. So trying to track down a product is a big kind of bug bear of mine. So I think having maybe a way of getting quick directions to that maybe means that I'm spending a little bit less time in store than enjoying that experience in store a hell of a lot more. And I think, you know, I think in this environment, particularly with the marks and Spencers, you know study itself, which I think it's not about marks and spencers wanting people to spend more time in this store. I think literally is the fact that the more convenience that they can provide, the more people are going to come back, and I think you know with the with the APP and the way it works is I think you know, most people can plan their journey into marks and spencers very easily, go through, do what they need to do and it gives them more time potentially to look around other parts of marks and Spencers, which is what I think that you know they're trying to achieve. That, which is don't want you spending a hundred minutes of your day trying to find everything you need here it is and then you can spend some time looking around the rest of the source. So I think you know from you know the technology that they're using to drive this. You know it's it's capable of being more widespreadly used across all sorts of environments, but this will be a great trial to see how the customer experience it proves. I think this kind of leads really nicely into kind of scan and go technology as well. But you've just got to think. You know the fact that if you look at our own Ingram micro data capture point of sale business, you know we've done a lot of work enabling the end users to be able to do...

...that. So you look at the big stores like TESCO's as the John Lewis, certainly waitrose partnership. They're all trying to reduce through the amount of Pos they have systems and have it more scamming go so cut up the sticking points. So let's make it as quick, click and clean as possible. And also technology is full proof, so it's very secure. You know, it's it's easy and you can pretty much, you know, scan and go on every single item. It doesn't have to be limited to the value, so even with televisions or anything else, you can do so it literally is one. You know, stores looking at the customer experience, but stores also looking at where they can invest, you know, a better experience by having less people as staff and more staff actually knowing what they're talking about being able to help you process it. Yeah, definitely, and actually, with with a are kind of developing. Amazon's also ventured into this with virtual try on shoes, because I think it's pretty fun. So you can just hold your phone up to your feet and see what the new new sneakers are look like us something. Yeah, it looks pretty cool. I mean for me there's a big thing. So I've trainers. I think some of the hardest things that you can buy online because your feet are always different in every pair of shoes. So the amount of times I bought a pair of shoes online, when they arrive they look crazy as hell. I think I'm always trying to experiment, trying to get it past like a black or white shoe, maybe do something a little bit different, but every time it turns up and it's way too bold. But I think what's really been interesting is when these are actually implemented in stores. So instead of having a whole floor covered in all of your products, from a security perspective, even from a logistics perspective, making sure they're continuously replenished, I think being able to maybe go into a store, experience the product, just sitting down, make your decision then and then have someone very quickly bring it over to you in the right size, go straight to the tail, you check out. It's your product right at that moment. I think there's a lot of logistics built into the back of that. There's a hell of a lot of pods that is needed to get that right, but I think that is a really interesting experience for me and I've seen that in a few stores that are kind of popping up where you're able to experience a product, but very quickly kind of check out and get out of the store and get on with the rest of your day. I think trainers is it's an interest because, you know, historically I've always done it with glasses, you know, prescription glasses. When you need them, you do. But I think with trainers, I think what this will do is I can see now a lot, a lot more trainers been individually, individually designed. So therefore, with these APPs, you know, because you can see, you know it's an expensive purchase, for sure. You know. So I think that the ability now for consumers to be able to design their trainers look very unique to them and then be able to place that order, like you said, as long as you know, the likes of, you know, the big brands have got the infrastructure behind it to be able to make sure that journey seamless. So you order online, you go in store, you then try and pick it up. You know it's it's a it's a great experience for something that's very expensive to purchase and, of when it's...

Bespoke, you can't return it. So you need to make sure you've designed it exactly how you want to. You know what it's going to look like on your feet, for sure, you know I think it's going to be. I think again, it's great that you know the whole virtual reality, the augmented reality. It's going to be more and more across all of our customer journeys moving forward. So next up we're going to talk a little bit about how data is changing the way that retail works. Yeah, Google, Google Cloud, has announced that a new partnership with global fashion giant H and m group, where the alliance. The alliance will see the retailer Leverage Google clouds data and listics capabilities and global infrastructure to further enhance its customer experience and supply chain enablement. But that retail journey, if you look at it specifically for retail, it's it's about analyzing and understanding behaviors. Well, everybody has a separate and a different behavior when you go in store, and I think this is where data becomes king, being able to access that data via the cloud but, more importantly, allowing the consumer in store to interact with the store. So you've got so many different technologies, Bluetooth, Wifi, everything that says it's not about me just going into a store to buy something. I want to have fun with that experience and that fun is all about imparting data to the retailer to allow you to have the fund and I think that that the partnership that Google have just announced. It is not just about being able to use the data to know, for a better word, spam the customer. It's to understand that customer and make sure that their journey within store or online is very representative of them, and I think this is the only this is how data will drive that behavior. Definitely, I think we're really seeing that data is only as good as what you do with it, and businesses have had data for years and years and years before digitalization. There was tons and tons of data, but it's how you utilize that data to really make that difference, and I think whether that's implementing it to create a better experience in store, maybe more stream line, maybe use that to build better technology to enable your customers to interact with you. So whether that is using online data to find out that an are experience is going to be the best way that a customer can experience a product, or maybe that is looking at footfall data using a camera system that you've got implemented in your stores to maybe put your products in better place, better merchandise that store. I think using data is incredibly important, but using it right, like you're saying, is super important. From a marketing perspective. I think using data is a fantastic way of understanding your customers creating more personalized experience for them. So making sure that you're using that data in ethical ways, in ways that allow the customer to feel like they're included as opposed to being creeped on, I think it is very important. Well, I think you look at the you know, you look at the Amazon experience. You know, and everybody at the outset was Amazon is just in my life everywhere. But right now I think most consumers want Amazon in their life everywhere because they are reminding them of things.

So, you know, when you go online and you you obviously search because you need something, but you don't necessarily go and buy it there, and then I thinks Max said, you know, sometimes I'll leave it for now and I'll get it later, but that's what the data is telling Amazon say, well, you did need it, so let me remind you that you do need it, and I think that's where the consumer journey is much better now than it ever has been because of the way that data is used by the retailers. Yeah, you don't feel like you're being hounded for the wrong things. You're actually being reminded of the right things, which is the best way to do it. Helpful, ever, hindrance, I think, is super important, if we all need to think about that. So, coming off the back of the last few years, which have been incredibly difficult for, I think, all of us, we've seen a real kind of requirement and a need for retail to maybe change and evolve to better support customers, I think we've got some really interesting story. Yeah. Yeah, so during the pandemic, the Co op one that violence towards its staff had skyrocketed one hundred and while Workers Union U S D A, we used, still said that violence towards and abuse, sorry, towards retail work has had doubled since the start of the pandemic. Um. So it's calling for new laws to protect its staff, but also using new technology to do that as well. So, yeah, you know, I think, I think you know, we use that term frontline worker now and I think, you know, a lot of people just took it for granted, but their jobs, their roles, you know, throughout the last few years have been incredibly difficult and as we moved to the next few years they're going to be they're going to be asked to do different things that, you know, sometimes increase people's frustrations. So, you know, I think the fact that what Co op have done is absolutely just seeing that that's the case and made the right investment in terms of, you know, one how they protect their staff, but also how they again enhance the experience of the customer, because you can reduce frustrations by making sure that the experience is right in the first place. So you know, some of the technology we're now seeing, you know, certainly you know the Co op with the lead that they've done, but again, in a lot of different environments is the body warn camera element. Now people see that and get it a little bit phased in the fact that you know, I'm being permanently recorded, but I think with the body warn technology it's a little bit different because it's not recording, it's live streaming, right, and a lot what life streaming does is of course it protects everybody and it's real time, but at the same time it also can you send a lot of data back to wherever it needs to in terms of, for example, the Co op HQ, the Cop Security Center or even the Co op logistics center, and looking at behaviors and everything else. So you know, though, the technology can be a little bit resentful to a consumer right now, but I think as as as more people use it, the journey for that consumer will be better because their experience will be seen in the eyes of a lot of people and therefore the frustration levels will come down definitely. And I think a lot of these innovations that we've been talking about today have kind of evolved through the last few years where we've seen lots of areas have to be put in...

...place, whether that's wearing masks or having to sanitize. All of those sorts of things have added additional barriers. So technology has been an interesting way to maybe take out some of the old historic barriers that were in place that now don't necessarily need to be. So, whilst we've added a few for hygiene reasons, maybe we can take a few out, which I think we're kind of seeing, and hopefully that's making some impact in lots of areas. Yeah, we've actually had. Speaking of keeping things like sanitized as well, there's been a little innovation here that I think is amazing. It's sort of so simple you'd think, why have we thought of it before, but it's Um, it's new moving buttons, so on screen. So basically the technology can allow to fifty people to use a self checkout before it actually needs cleaning to instead of every individual person, the idea being that the little button to sort of move next or to sort of continue is always different for every different customer, which I think is a very elegant solution actually, which works well. Yeah, and I think, do you know what I think? Again, it just it just enhances you experience because, let's be honest, we're all used to check out being right at the bomb. Yeah, so you know you end up checking out way before you really need to because you still got other things to scan. So I think the fact that, you know, the attention to detail is still there because the thing, the buttons are moving around. Yes, it helps with the sanitization and keeping the technology clean, but at the same time I think it just engages consumers more because at the end of the day, it's not a mundane process of scan and check out. It's you interacting with the technology which is there for your own use anyway. So you know, I think the whole technology and retail is going to enhance, I think the experience. You know, that's a that's a quirky story, but there are more quirkier stories than that with the technology that are being used. So I think you know, as we all go through that retail evolution, I think we're going to find it more exciting with the latest technology being rolled out across these environments. Completely agree. I think it's just those small little innovations that make the massive difference. One retail experience that I really like is where you're kind of placing the product into maybe like a designated area. It's got scales and camera so you don't even have to scan a product anymore. It knows exactly what that product is. It's in a popular retails sports store just up the road. But for me that's some fantastic experience and just kind of dropping my products in feels a little bit kind of like futuristic for me. I don't know how intelligent the technology is that actually runs it, for that is a seems as experience for me. I'm kind of just throwing all of my products in one by one, bag them all up and then I'm out. It's nothing worse than when you're kind of like scanning a product. You put on the scales doesn't quite register you after then put it back for lift it, put it back down still there's a register. Very frustrated and I think this is again it's you know, a lot of people don't understand the back end of that solution and it's a lot of technology that's driving it to you to be able to understand what's in that basket, because it's going to be a mixture of all sorts of things. So you know, a huge amount of technology investment from the retailers that you know, certainly us as consumers don't really understand because we don't look at that journey in any detail. You know, we certainly don't think about when we place an order online, what goes on to get that order to your door, and...

...it's technology that drives all of it. So I think certainly over the next two three years we're going to see retail trends changing, retail investments changing and consumer behavior getting more and more demanding, and I think that's why these stories that you know, certainly we're seeing right now are just the beginning of the investment platform. We'll see from retail. Well, I think that kind of wraps it up, so thank you very much for joining us. Rights being a pleasure chatting. Thank you. Thank you so much.

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