Philippine Retailing 2019 Philippine Retailing 2019 Q4_Digital - Page 11

COLUMN My “use by date” has While everyone is gushing about how technology is making everything convenient and exciting these days, here's a different take on technology from someone who has experienced retail throughout the decades. Retail behavior does vary from region to region, country to country and in format to format. But whilst the develolpment timeframe will be different, eventually the retail path is always the same, which leads to—less people employed and less, if any, face to face commercial and social behaviour. Traditional “service excellence” will disappear as generations pass from this life: My parents generation - My parents are in their 90’s and have told me they are too old to learn new skills and with rapid technology development what you learn today becomes obsolete tomorrow. For my parents what has always been a matter of easy and accessible person to person commercial and social interaction to complete their daily tasks they now feel isolated in a world where technolological competency – human to machine - is now a necessitiy for most tasks. My father told me that in the past he could simply visit the local shops to pay his utilitiy bills and to complete his banking. When recently, paying his telephone account he was advised in the future he will need to pay online thru the internet or thru an App on his mobile phone. My Dad explained he did not have nor intend to get a computer or a mobile phone. The young assistant looked at him with a perplexed gaze and asked “But how do you survive without the internet or a cell phone?” My Dad answered, “well I’m 95 and will pass from this earth soon so the problem will solve itself!" My generation –In the 80’s, technology made a first appearance as a tool to support decision making in retail. Primarily, a diagnostic tool to provide faster access to trade data it provided details of retail performance that allowed me to determine retail decisions faster and with increased accuracy. Over the ensuing decades technology developed in sophistication becoming easier and faster to access – from weekly to overnight to real-time - and became dominant in all aspects of retail management. With the reliance upon technology came the move from “coal face action”, to “desktop detainment” thus removing much, if not all, of the customer, store and supplier “human interafce” and all time being in front of the computer screen” Whilst I have been able to grasp and adopt most of the technnological advancement over the passing decades, in recent years I am finding with the speed of change and the sophistication of technology - like my father - I too am now struggling to absorb and use technology today. MARKET WATCH by Darrell Wisbey Darrell is a chief mentor and retail advisor who has 30 years of retail experience and has built a reputation for being a leader who interprets the market accurately, define strategic direction, and deliver success by motivating, developing and inspiring teams to achieve continual improvement I am not anti-development and use of technology in our lives and willingly admit I enthusiastically used technology in my retail career. Over the early decades of my career as technology grew in retail, I was able to grow with it. Technology that performs tasks faster, sorts information more accurately, eliminates human errors and reduces costs are all great reasons for implementation but at what point does the negative impact on people outweigh the perceived technology operational advantages? A final hope: My hopes, as I find myself nearing the end of my time in retail, are: My children’s generation – My kids entered into a world where technology already was a part of everyday life and in the first decades of their lives rapid changes in technology were accepted with routine ease. Already in their lives completing tasks on-line and performing daily needs by way of APPS is accepted as everyday behaviour. There is little if any at all, memory of the traditional “face to face” service that was essential for success in my life and especially in my retail career. That loss of careers in retail will not be an outcome from use of technology. The next generation – These kids are being born into the age of technology and will know no different. Perhaps they will never leave their bubble environments and will only intereact by way of virtual reality screens using the latest technology. An existence without the need for real life human interactions – a sad world that would be. That forward thinking retailers develop their retail experience to provide people with the excitement that was unique to traditional retail – an experience beyond simply buying something. The technology reality: As a child, I still remember the family outing from our small home in the province to the big department store in the city and the times spent in seeing and experiencing things never before seen nor experienced. Oh, how I hope retail can one day offer the same exciting experiences that I was fortunate enough to enjoy with my family. Technology is the reality and there is no doubting the value of technology in our lives. That real life person to person interactions, both social and commercial, do not get replaced with human to technology operations. That instant and non-stop access to technology data does not destroy a person's ability to have a valued and balanced life as an invidual and within a family. That retail loyalty returns as a true value in commercial success. 9