Few industries are standing still in today’s digital era. The IoT (Internet of Things) is driving changes in factories, classrooms, homes, construction sites, hospitals, stores, and beyond. Retail is one industry feeling the force of change quite strongly. As the holiday season comes and goes, retail becomes more connected from top to bottom—from the supply chain to the storefront and everywhere in between.
As 2017 ended, retail volumes had increased by 2.8%, according to the EIU (Economist Intelligence Unit), www.eiu.com, “Industries in 2018” report, and in 2018, a similar increase of 2.5% is expected. However, despite a steady growth projection, the industry is undergoing some massive shifts, and retailers must keep up with the pace of innovation or risk becoming obsolete.
Innovations like the recently unveiled NCR Silver Quantum commerce station exemplify the shift that’s happening in retail toward a more connected workflow. The all-in-one POS (point of sale) commerce station features an integrated payment device with mobile wallet acceptance capability, a customer display, a loyalty scanner, and a 10.1-inch Android Samsung Galaxy Tab A tablet that serves as the employee interface. Designed for small-to-medium-sized businesses, the solution is the result of a collaboration between NCR, www.ncr.com, a global tech company, and Samsung Electronics America, www.samsung.com. With functions like inventory management, marketing support, and sales reporting, the solution is one example of how connected devices and solutions help merchants connect with customers, secure their operations, and take advantage of opportunities presented by digital business.
As the space undergoes a digital transformation, it will be important to the future success of the retail industry that future leaders understand the IoT and how technology can enable the next generation of retail. Beginning this spring at Cornell University, www.cornell.edu, students studying fashion design management will have access to a PLM (product lifecycle management) solution from PTC, www.ptc.com, as part of their coursework. PTC’s FlexPLM solution offers PLM capabilities such as line planning, specification management, merchandising, and more, helping retailers collaborate, streamline supply chains, and deliver innovative, profitable products. In an increasingly digital and data-driven industry, PTC and Cornell say access to the PLM solution during their university education will help students better understand PLM technology, which will increase their marketable skills as they move into the professional world and become product developers, merchandisers, and buyers in the broad retail space.
If academia and industry partners continue to work together in this way, the future of retail will be in good hands. Tomorrow’s retail leaders will have the tools and skillsets necessary to bring the IoT into retail operations wherever they land professionally. Innovations that deliver IoT capabilities to today’s retailers, combined with education and training for tomorrow’s decisionmakers will continue to bring forth a new connected era in the business of creating and selling products.
Security will also need to be top of mind for retailers if they want to survive to experience and leverage the innovations of tomorrow. Blockchain technology (insert link to blockchain feature) is quickly becoming a discussion point in more industries than just financial services, and, one day soon, every business that needs security—including retail—just may find it needs blockchain.
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