Smart services for the retail sector

Munich, 06. November 2017 - Stefan Metzger, a partner at KPS AG who is responsible for business consulting in the digital segment, explains in an interview with TREND REPORT how retailers with cleverly devised omni-channel solutions and smart services can enhance customer loyalty in a targeted and efficient way.

TREND REPORT: Mr. Metzger, what do you mean by smart services?

Stefan Metzger: Smart services aim to make life easier or more convenient, save time or create new opportunities. This is achieved through the effective analysis of existing and constantly emerging new data and by connecting people and products.
The speed of communication in the working world has increased at a tremendous pace over recent years. Smartphones mean people can be reached anywhere at any time and the boundary between work and leisure time is becoming increasingly blurred. To make the best use of our time in our professional and private lives – there are ultimately still only 24 hours in the day – tailored services and information are required. Smart services can provide the ideal solution.

TREND REPORT: To what extent does your company use smart services?

Stefan Metzger: KPS deploys a company-wide app, for example, that provides a range of work-related services for employees. News about KPS AG and our customers as well as information on the various locations is delivered on a personalized basis.
It also provides an interactive platform for collaboration between the project teams and our Innovation Centers. Key information from the administration and HR units is also provided.
Our employees have access to this on all devices, keeping them up to speed with the latest developments in real time around the world. Smart applications are of major importance to collaboration between distributed teams.

TREND REPORT: To what extent do you enable your customers to provide smart services through your solutions?

Stefan Metzger: Voice control is not only becoming increasingly prevalent in cars and on smartphones but also in the home. Systems such as Alexa from Amazon already provide assistance with everyday tasks and the functions and services available here will increase rapidly.
We integrate voice-controlled platforms into our customers’ supply chain and system environment to make the shopping experience even easier, more convenient and completely independent of real places and the physical world.
Based on SAP Hybris Marketing, we use vast quantities of data and develop recommendation systems to address customers individually.
We make the world of digital services available for customers in the stationary retail sector. The focus here is on connecting music streaming, eBooks, mobile phone plans and games with the physical world. The coupling with chain stores reaches the point where payment within the service worlds can be used to foster customer loyalty via a specially created payment system.

TREND REPORT: How can the retail sector of the future benefit from smart services and what does that mean for customers?

Stefan Metzger: The customer increasingly takes center stage and will select the retailers or service providers that best meet their individual requirements. Retailers must, therefore, reflect on how to approach their customers. On one hand, they require huge amounts of customer data but, on the other, the skills and expertise to interpret it and make it usable by smart services.
Loyalty schemes and the integration of stationary and online retail often provide an excellent database. There are good opportunities for retailers to establish additional services to improve customer loyalty.
 

TREND REPORT: How far is the traditional allocation of roles between industry and retail gradually disappearing due to the digital transformation?

Stefan Metzger: The manufacturers of IoT or smart devices have direct access to customer data and therefore the opportunity to optimize the customer relationship themselves. It will become increasingly difficult in these areas for retailers to create added value for customers, especially since online marketplaces are replacing traditional retailers as the channel in many cases.
Stationary retailers can nevertheless strengthen their position in many segments as they have direct physical access to customers and can enhance customer loyalty through cleverly devised omni-channel solutions and smart services in a targeted and efficient way.

TREND REPORT: What role will sensor technology play in the context of smart services in the future?

Stefan Metzger: Sensor technology enables further information on customer behavior and their use of products to be obtained. Data is acquired through smart devices or technologies installed directly in the retail stores.
There will be lots more application scenarios and the range of smart services will increase significantly, especially in the leisure and healthcare sectors.
However, there will also be challenges to overcome as a result of the use of sensor technology and the resultant exponential strong growth in data volume and related data protection aspects.

TREND REPORT: What is the current relationship between digital eco-systems and smart services?

Stefan Metzger: Smart services and digital eco-systems are clearly closely interlinked. Digital eco-systems also create obstacles which are not necessary from a purely technical perspective. It is important to weigh up – depending on the target group for smart services – which existing digital eco-systems can be incorporated or whether the set-up of a customized, new digital eco-system is beneficial. The secure exchange of services and payment functions and the confidential handling of data in compliance with the law must be ensured here.

 

Source: Trendreport, https://trendreport.de/smart-services-fuer-den-handel/