retail FM tech

Here Comes the Digital Transformation of Retail Facilities Management

There are no two ways about it. It is long past the deadline for facilities management companies to start helping their retail clients say goodbye to old legacy systems and look to fresh innovation to keep up with the evolving expectations of both the modern employee and in-store consumer. Antiquated intranets, analog records and “siloed” sources of internal data are keeping too many brick and mortar-heavy brands from tracking, understanding and responding to vital shopping needs and behaviors, with many going under. Does Toys “R” Us ring a bell?

Bluntly, the digital world is full of opportunity to harness eye-opening consumer data and subsequently meet marketplace needs head on; but only those brands who embrace this shift and adapt to new technologies will have the good fortune of finding and reeling in today’s finicky shopper. Here is how a new generation of FMs can help.

Being Part of the New Wave

Currently there are roughly two types of FMs out there: (1) those who remain focused on tweaking or replacing older systems quickly and cheaply (not always with optimal results), also referred to as legacy FMs, and (2) new generation managers, who are much more focused on substantial, digital transformation to inspire the most possible ROI over time. To be a part of the latter, it is important to prove to clients, through concrete research and findings, why their up-front costs will be substantially rewarded with positive results both immediately at the location itself AND down the line, without sacrificing brand integrity. Clients should know why change is good, and how it help can drive down their specific bottom line.

To stay at the forefront of the facilities management industry, it is vital to focus on partnering with companies that are striving to be more innovative while being conscious of financial constraints, and then develop a site and systems plan that fits with their mission, the wants of their customer base, and the vibe of the surrounding community. From interactive, in-store kiosks to sensors that track customer movements in real time, it is necessary for ambassadors of the new generation to ensure clients are maximizing their opportunities, particularly through the right digital technology.

Solutions of a New Generation

Linking systems for real-time updates – Unlike many legacy FMs, modern facilities managers can offer an uninterrupted, 24/7 line of open communication, via telephone, the Internet and online platforms. This way, both parties can stay on the same page, and be simultaneously alerted (through automatic text and/or email) when issues arise, including after hours, holidays, and weekends. Meanwhile, advanced analytic reporting solutions can help determine what is aging on the client’s end of the system before a problem emerges.

Legacy FMs have gained a reputation for an all-or-nothing approach to implementation/replacement, which leaves little room for the client to negotiate pricing or replace only certain portions of an existing system. On the other hand, with digital innovation on the rise, it has never been more possible to surgically tend to major problem areas, while leaving others untouched. The new generation has the tools to help clients to begin with particular areas of interest or go straight to full, innovative solutions.

The last ten years have charged modern FMs with the task of aligning their clients’ in-store experiences with the growing popularity of convenient, online purchasing. The main difference? Online, potential shoppers have the limited ability to take in product-related photos, copy, videos, tutorials—meanwhile, the shop-in-shop concept allows patrons to get up close to, or even interact with products themselves, and add to their “cart” as they go. Finally, with the advent of in-store ordering and shipping, patrons never need walk out the door with heavy bags or boxes again.

In the last decade, there have been so many digital advancements in the world of retail facilities management that the in-store experience is starting to look like we stepped directly into the future with LED menu displays, interactive game stations, curbside pickups, and the ability to try-before-you-buy. The brick and mortar stores that are thriving are those that have directly met patrons with modern convenience, superb customer service and less hassle upon checkout. In other words, the stores are creating enjoyable and memorable experiences.

Behind this new transformation in retail are a multitude of innovative and cost-effective digital platforms, software programs and applications that connect employers, employees and FMs, who can use the technology to work together on solving problems and developing proactive solutions. There is no question that it is time to help clients living in the analog past to get rid of their legacy solutions, and replace them with a new generation of long-term options that can be easily monitored and adjusted alongside the evolution of the modern shopper.

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