Looking at the retail market and IT ecosystem supporting it, 2017 was a year of dramatic change as the trend toward online shopping gained even more momentum.
With Amazon’s aggressive pursuit of online shoppers, followed by Walmart and other large retailers, the trend was further fueled by free shipping, speedy delivery, and easy returns. It seems like we’ve passed the tipping point and retailers of all shapes and sizes are taking notice. For example, even traditional department stores such as Macy’s and Kohl’s, major grocery chains such as Kroger and Albertsons, and specialty retailers such as Gap, DSW and Best Buy, are building or enhancing their online presence while trying to maintain a strong focus on their retail stores.
What changes should we anticipate in 2018? If our customers are any indication, we believe online shopping will continue to grow, but retailers will try to create a more unified image and drive more cohesive messaging across all sales channels. In the retail vertical especially, ISVs are the key technology partners who can help retail organizations of every size and type achieve the kind of transformation they desire.
In fact, we may finally be seeing the promise of “Omnichannel Marketing, Sales and Fulfillment” on the way to being fully realized. And that’s a good thing ‒ for consumers, for retailers, and especially for retail-focused developers with technology-based solutions that help make it all transparent, frictionless and easy for shoppers.
Mobile Tech Rising
In the omnichannel world, retailers are reimagining how they engage and interact with shoppers. Many have accelerated investments in software, cloud, and mobile technologies that enhance the shopping experience. For example, applications such as buy-online-pick-up-in-store (BOPIS), also called Click-and-Collect, are proving highly popular with busy consumers. Some version of this application has been embraced by supermarkets, chain and drug stores and a few department stores. Similarly, mobile applications and strategies encompassing mobile POS, IoT, and real-time, cloud-based service offerings, such as centralized item price labeling, have also emerged to help chain stores improve operational efficiencies. We’re also seeing fueling station retailers transition to better serve the millennial market with fresh food and healthy options. With this comes opportunity for flexible new shelf label, food, and food safety labeling – and the solutions that make it possible. It just feels like opportunities abound right now for developers serving the retail store, the warehouse, and the supply chain.
Flexibility is Key
With so many great opportunities for retail app development, ISVs do need to keep in mind that one size does not fit all. Applications need to be scalable and flexible, so they can be tailored to meet the specific needs of retailers of varying sizes having differing functional requirements. Apps should also be platform agnostic – that is, they should be interoperable with devices running on iOS, Android, or Windows electronics. And developers should stay flexible enough to change course or make adjustments along the way should new ideas or opportunities present themselves.
What Brother is Up To?
Brother provides compact, rugged mobile printers designed for use in virtually every facet of retail and field services. Products include Brother RuggedJet® and PocketJet® Series mobile document, label and receipt printers – from 2-inch to full page formats. Our printers are Android, Windows and iOS compatible, and every series offers Apple MFi certification and AirPrint functionality. We pride ourselves on printers that are simple to deploy, and even simpler to use in the field.
And to make sure our printers work with new software applications, we provide a suite of standard and custom integration tools, including SDKs with demo code to build applications. And when it comes to integration and deployment, we have in-house engineers, whose primary mission is to make our ISV partners successful and their customers happy.
To help foster better and more productive technology partner alliances, Brother recently announced its new Partner Program called THE NEXT. This program is unique in that we seek to forge partnerships for long-term mutual advantage by helping to co-develop turnkey software and mobile printing solutions. This past year we’ve seen many new and innovative applications from retail ISVs and the need for smart, efficient solutions doesn’t seem to be slowing down.
For more information, visit brothermobilesolutions.com or call 800-543-6144.