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Retail Technology: It’s About Evolution, Not Revolution’

Rob Griffiths, Head of PIDS, Barron McCann (Project, Infrastructure and Deployment Services) also known in the industry as IMAC’s (Installation, Moves and Changes)

Rob Griffiths joined Barron McCann in November 2014 as Head of Projects. As he completes 9 months at the company, he discusses some of the key issues driving retail technology decision-making over the coming months.

Cost-control is always a big thing for retailers and in an increasingly tech-driven environment, lots of technology is delivered on the back of delivering cost savings.  Practical and measurable output that’s where new technology typically gets accepted and that is what is driving forward retail IT decision-making. Whilst the economy is improving, we are by no means out of the woods yet and retailers continue to spend cautiously, despite wanting to capitalise on new technology where it proves to deliver tangible benefits.

Showcasing digital signage is a good example. Many retailers put new technology into their flagship stores then water it down for their typical high street stores.  For example, you might have a 10m digital interactive touch screen showing latest trends in a flagship fashion store but it then becomes 40 inch display screen in the smaller stores.

There are various new concepts hitting the marketplace such as smart cash drawers, which notify the office when a till is running low on each of the coins sections so they can be re-filled, it will also know the total amount held in the till so helps with the cashing up process. Ideally we need to help our retailers identify the technologies that are worth pursuing and actually add true tangible benefit to a business rather than those which are mere showcases.

Self service and assisted service are further areas that have seen considerable growth and we are increasingly being asked to advise and assist in the implementation of these into smaller format stores and with clients who haven’t previously used these. Undoubtedly technology will move on from self-service PoS to less intrusive and more slick methods of check out but retailers are traditionally conservative and risk averse so I fully expect the recognisable old-fashioned checkout to be around for a long time yet.

Ultimately, retailers need to be advised by specialists who know what will drive savings in what sector. As with all technology, not everything is right first time, as we’ve seen with RFID and so specialists like Barron McCann need to become trusted advisors across all areas of the retail IT operation. As an industry as whole, we need to stabilise what’s working for retailers and move forward on a firm footing not shaky ground.  It’s all about evolution not revolution!




Contributed by: Barron McCann

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