Future of Technology in Retail

The usage of technology has always benefited the retail industry. It has made the industry more organized, accountable and efficient. There is a lot of scope for the implementation of technology. However we notice that many retailers do not know the power of technology which would have immense impact on the growth of sales if implemented. There is a vast growth in technology but retailers still lag behind in implementation.

Technology has grown in leaps and bounds over the last decade and will continue to grow in a geometric progression. Moore’s law states that “The number of transistors on an integrated circuit will double over every 18 months”. Moore is the co-founder of technology giant Intel. This law changes ones perspective on what impact technology and its applications can have over every industry.

In the retail industry profits are not made through a single transaction but by establishing a rapport and a long term understanding with customers. Getting the customers to be loyal to a store is not an easily accomplished task. It’s all about building reputation and studying a customer’s patterns over a period of time. Profiling of customers help a long way in establishing a rapport and technology can be used in accomplishing this.

RFID or Radio Frequency Identification is a technology that was invented about 60 years ago but has found its application in the Retail industry only recently. Radio frequencies are unique, so its applications lie vastly in identifying objects uniquely. The number of suppliers using RFID has increased by leaps and bounds plainly because they will cease to be suppliers if they do not do so. RFID can be incorporated into existing supply chain management which can reduce the labor required to monitor the goods movement and inventory flow. Used along with a bar code system RFIDs can allow manufacturers and retailers to complement existing systems while gathering more information throughout a supply chain. RFID’s can also act as a security guard at gateways. It can also conduct automatic inventories and reduce stock outs and overages. Accounting discrepancies can also be removed.

Database management systems give retailers efficient tools for profiling customers and managing every point of sale transaction. Well managed and carefully arranged files make it easy to access data from a database. Even a non-programmer can access a database using certain built-in tools.

Large scale markets and malls in India demonstrate a good usage of technology in parking spaces; billing counters and security. The data captured can be used in many ways to give insights on sales and increase profitability. The usage of technology does not end here. It can be used as a powerful marketing tool. Having a website or an online shop can increase sales and also advertise products. It is another avenue to generate revenue and attract more people to stores.

Technology has vast and major implications in virtual shopping, where a customer can shop anything he wants within a few clicks of a button. The best part of having an online shop is that it is accessible all the time. Most stores have a integrated online shopping option which enables customers sitting from their of offices.

Before introducing any new technology to a retail store, a retailer need always ask himself whether it is going to benefit the customer in some way or increases his profitability.

Retail is an industry that is always playing catch up with technology. There is so much scope for retailers to implement technology in their business. The challenge they are facing right now is about how they can go about integrating technology into their business and making it work together as a team to derive the best possible results.

What Is the Relevance of Technology?

“Technology in the long-run is irrelevant”. That is what a customer of mine told me when I made a presentation to him about a new product. I had been talking about the product’s features and benefits and listed “state-of-the-art technology” or something to that effect, as one of them. That is when he made his statement. I realized later that he was correct, at least within the context of how I used “Technology” in my presentation. But I began thinking about whether he could be right in other contexts as well.

What is Technology?

Merriam-Webster defines it as:

1

a: the practical application of knowledge especially in a particular area: engineering 2 <medical technology>

b: a capability given by the practical application of knowledge <a car’s fuel-saving technology>

2

: a manner of accomplishing a task especially using technical processes, methods, or knowledge

3

: the specialized aspects of a particular field of endeavor <educational technology>

Wikipedia defines it as:

Technology (from Greek τέχνη, techne, “art, skill, cunning of hand”; and -λογία, -logia[1]) is the making, modification, usage, and knowledge of tools, machines, techniques, crafts, systems, and methods of organization, in order to solve a problem, improve a preexisting solution to a problem, achieve a goal, handle an applied input/output relation or perform a specific function. It can also refer to the collection of such tools, including machinery, modifications, arrangements and procedures. Technologies significantly affect human as well as other animal species’ ability to control and adapt to their natural environments. The term can either be applied generally or to specific areas: examples include construction technology, medical technology, and information technology.

Both definitions revolve around the same thing – application and usage.

Technology is an enabler

Many people mistakenly believe it is technology which drives innovation. Yet from the definitions above, that is clearly not the case. It is opportunity which defines innovation and technology which enables innovation. Think of the classic “Build a better mousetrap” example taught in most business schools. You might have the technology to build a better mousetrap, but if you have no mice or the old mousetrap works well, there is no opportunity and then the technology to build a better one becomes irrelevant. On the other hand, if you are overrun with mice then the opportunity exists to innovate a product using your technology.

Another example, one with which I am intimately familiar, are consumer electronics startup companies. I’ve been associated with both those that succeeded and those that failed. Each possessed unique leading edge technologies. The difference was opportunity. Those that failed could not find the opportunity to develop a meaningful innovation using their technology. In fact to survive, these companies had to morph oftentimes into something totally different and if they were lucky they could take advantage of derivatives of their original technology. More often than not, the original technology wound up in the scrap heap. Technology, thus, is an enabler whose ultimate value proposition is to make improvements to our lives. In order to be relevant, it needs to be used to create innovations that are driven by opportunity.

Technology as a competitive advantage?

Many companies list a technology as one of their competitive advantages. Is this valid? In some cases yes, but In most cases no.

Technology develops along two paths – an evolutionary path and a revolutionary path.

A revolutionary technology is one which enables new industries or enables solutions to problems that were previously not possible. Semiconductor technology is a good example. Not only did it spawn new industries and products, but it spawned other revolutionary technologies – transistor technology, integrated circuit technology, microprocessor technology. All which provide many of the products and services we consume today. But is semiconductor technology a competitive advantage? Looking at the number of semiconductor companies that exist today (with new ones forming every day), I’d say not. How about microprocessor technology? Again, no. Lots of microprocessor companies out there. How about quad core microprocessor technology? Not as many companies, but you have Intel, AMD, ARM, and a host of companies building custom quad core processors (Apple, Samsung, Qualcomm, etc). So again, not much of a competitive advantage. Competition from competing technologies and easy access to IP mitigates the perceived competitive advantage of any particular technology. Android vs iOS is a good example of how this works. Both operating systems are derivatives of UNIX. Apple used their technology to introduce iOS and gained an early market advantage. However, Google, utilizing their variant of Unix (a competing technology), caught up relatively quickly. The reasons for this lie not in the underlying technology, but in how the products made possible by those technologies were brought to market (free vs. walled garden, etc.) and the differences in the strategic visions of each company.

Evolutionary technology is one which incrementally builds upon the base revolutionary technology. But by it’s very nature, the incremental change is easier for a competitor to match or leapfrog. Take for example wireless cellphone technology. Company V introduced 4G products prior to Company A and while it may have had a short term advantage, as soon as Company A introduced their 4G products, the advantage due to technology disappeared. The consumer went back to choosing Company A or Company V based on price, service, coverage, whatever, but not based on technology. Thus technology might have been relevant in the short term, but in the long term, became irrelevant.

In today’s world, technologies tend to quickly become commoditized, and within any particular technology lies the seeds of its own death.

Technology’s Relevance

This article was written from the prospective of an end customer. From a developer/designer standpoint things get murkier. The further one is removed from the technology, the less relevant it becomes. To a developer, the technology can look like a product. An enabling product, but a product nonetheless, and thus it is highly relevant. Bose uses a proprietary signal processing technology to enable products that meet a set of market requirements and thus the technology and what it enables is relevant to them. Their customers are more concerned with how it sounds, what’s the price, what’s the quality, etc., and not so much with how it is achieved, thus the technology used is much less relevant to them.

Recently, I was involved in a discussion on Google+ about the new Motorola X phone. A lot of the people on those posts slammed the phone for various reasons – price, locked boot loader, etc. There were also plenty of knocks on the fact that it didn’t have a quad-core processor like the S4 or HTC One which were priced similarly. What they failed to grasp is that whether the manufacturer used 1, 2, 4, or 8 cores in the end makes no difference as long as the phone can deliver a competitive (or even best of class) feature set, functionality, price, and user experience. The iPhone is one of the most successful phones ever produced, and yet it runs on a dual-core processor. It still delivers one of the best user experiences on the market. The features that are enabled by the technology are what are relevant to the consumer, not the technology itself.

The relevance of technology therefore, is as an enabler, not as a product feature or a competitive advantage, or any myriad of other things – an enabler. Looking at the Android operating system, it is an impressive piece of software technology, and yet Google gives it away. Why? Because standalone, it does nothing for Google. Giving it away allows other companies to use their expertise to build products and services which then act as enablers for Google’s products and services. To Google, that’s where the real value is.

The possession of or access to a technology is only important for what it enables you to do – create innovations which solve problems. That is the real relevance of technology.

What Laser Technology Is Most Effective?

If you’re wanting laser hair removal, then you’re probably not sure which laser technology you should choose. After all, it seems like every single laser hair removal service is talking about something that’s just slightly different. What’s the truth about laser hair removal? What really is effective?

There are many varieties of laser technologies. Since lasers were first introduced in the 1960’s, a complex structure of laser types has branched off, showing off many good points and bad points.

While one laser might be the best solution for a client with black hair and medium skin, it could have no benefit for a person with fair hair and medium skin. There is no single laser technology that is unquestionably the best for everybody. However, here are some ideas to think about when choosing the right laser hair removal technology for you.

Dark Hair and/or Light Skin? Try LaserFast

Here’s how laser technology works. The laser is pulled to the darkest color in its path. In the majority of guests, the darkest material is the hair follicle. The laser then fries this hair follicle and the body expels it. This process is FDA approved.

Obviously, if you have dark hair and fair skin, then you are the perfect guest for LaserFast treatment. Most laser spa’s are not a one-solution-fits-all kind of spa. Not all patrons have dark hair and fair skin. If that’s the reality with you, then you might want to consider normal laser treatment.

Blonde Hair and/or Dark Skin? Try Traditional Laser Treatment

Laser hair removal is most often performed using traditional treatment methods. There are a wide variety of traditional laser hair removal methods available, some of them not as risky) and more guaranteed to work than others.

Local laser spa technicians generally take great pride in consulting with you one-on-one to make sure that you receive a treatment option that will certainly work for your needs. Many patients will have to come in for multiple treatments. Should this be the case, it’s necessary to select a laser hair removal procedure that makes sense with your schedule. If you can only make one or two visits, for instance, then you may end up going with a particular solution that gives quicker results but not necessarily better results.

It is suggested that you learn more about removing unwanted body hair by calling your local laser spa and seeing what services they offer and if they might be a good fit for you.