In this second of two articles from Euroshop 2023, Qcom business development manager Annabel Roddy explores the implications of technology change in the retail sector for technical service and support. In her first article (click here) she looked at the technology trends driving change.
As I emphasised in the first of these two articles from EuroShop 2023, retail remains – despite its many challenges – a hugely important sector for the UK and European economies.
In fact, nearly 14% of all UK jobs depend on a sector which has been battered in recent years by Covid restrictions, online competition, runaway inflation, and a wider cost-of-living crisis. Little surprise then that there is so much appetite at a show like EuroShop for new technologies which can help in-store retail to fight back. With more than 81,000 visitors from 141 countries visiting Düsseldorf to meet more than 1,800 exhibitors, this is very much ‘the world’s No.1 retail trade fair’, and you can read more about the astonishing array of innovation on show in my previous article.
But, of course, the Qcom contingent wasn’t just there to marvel at the latest technology. We were there to discuss first hand with manufacturers, distributors and the retailers themselves the implications and challenges this remarkable rate of change presents both now and in the future for retail technical services and aftermarket support delivery.
We came away with five key messages about the future of retail technology support.
We’ve always known that technology uptime matters to retailers – one established estimate puts the average cost of retail downtime incidents at £3,675 per minute. But just about everyone we spoke to at EuroShop emphasised that this is becoming more critical with every passing year. In particular, the trend towards using technology in place of labour to create efficiencies, convenience and user experience means that technology downtime is becoming potentially disastrous, able to effectively close autonomous or minimally staffed stores altogether. The pressure for higher service level agreements is only going to increase.
With customer convenience and experience so vital to the in-store fightback against online shopping, this always-on imperative impacts not just service level agreements but also arrangements for the technology installations and upgrades themselves. Retailers are increasingly demanding out-of-hours project delivery so as not to disrupt opening times, or detract in anyway from the carefully curated in-store environment.
This ceaseless quest for customer convenience is pushing more and more retailers towards 24/7 opening, collections and other services. And inevitably, this means that maintenance and repair services are increasingly being requested on a 24/7 basis. If service companies aren’t already offering it, they will soon have to.
The amount of innovation on show at EuroShop was truly remarkable, but manufacturers were keen to stress that there’s plenty more on the way – and retailers were equally adamant that the demand for this new tech isn’t going to slow down any time soon. As a result, everyone predicts growing demand for skilled service engineers and outsource specialists able to manage installations, product upgrades and software upgrades, both onsite and at commissioning centres.
The sustainability message was everywhere at EuroShop. The need for ‘green’ is being driven by a combination of customer and company values, regulation and legislation, and the need to reduce waste and cost in the face of increasing pressure on margins. Retailers are turning to technology to help them deliver on this agenda, and in turn they are looking to build a service supply chain capable of supporting this in a sustainable fashion. From remote helpdesk resolutions to smart scheduling and electric service fleets, there are plenty of ways in which the technical services sector will be
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Our visit to Euroshop 2023 reassured us that Qcom is on the right journey as a leading technical services and aftermarket support partner for the retail sector. We are proud of the commitment we have already shown to ‘going the extra mile’ in meeting these emerging trends in retail technology support but, if we learned anything from the show, it was that our challenge will be in keeping up in the coming years with the exceptional level of innovation and determination being shown by the world’s technology manufacturers and retailers. Exciting times ahead, for sure!