Tech Data responds to omni channel retail opportunity

Retailers are spending more on technology as they look to reach out to customers via every means possible making it the vertical a major target for Tech Data

For most distributors the business is based around vendors with a few key markets, usually education and public sector, deserving their own separate unit.

Depending on the product portfolio those dedicated units can differ but it is quite unusual for a broadliner to put a great deal of muscle behind retail.

Part of the reason is historical with that market tending to buy through other suppliers that carried brands that were specifically designed for that vertical.

But things have changed and although there are still sector specific vendors out there there is clearly an opportunity for the channel to make some revenue out of the sector.

The pressure on retailers to deliver high levels of customer service and be at the forefront of delivering an in-store experience, that often includes free wi-fi and increasing levels of personalisation, along with an online presence, that can provide the user with decent levels of interaction regardless of device, has lead them to become bigger tech spenders.

Retailers have had to put money into infrastructure, security and to ensuring that their web presence and ecommerce offerings work on any platform. The result has seen retail nudge closer to the financial services market in terms of becoming a widespread adopter of all manner of technologies, ranging from data analytics to mobile security.

Tech Data has reacted to that opportunity and outlined an ambition to become the first choice distributor for UK retailers.

The distributor has established an autonomous retail board, a dedicated sales team and is introducing new services and adding vendors to its roster to meet customer needs in that market.

Group sales director Martin Boyce is heading the firm's retail board and will be developing the strategy to meet the increasingly technology driven needs of customers.

“Tech Data wants to be the first choice distributor for retailers and we are investing strongly with that goal in mind. We have a strategic plan and we are making a long-term commitment to growing our business in this sector. We are introducing new services and processes to meet the specific, diverse and rapidly changing needs of retailers," he said.

He added that one of the challenges for retailers was developing its 'omni-channel' approach to the market, ensuring they capture potential sales at the web research stage, in-store as well as online, and at the same time preventing costs from spiraling.

Although there has been a debate in the retail world about the speed with which technology has changed consumer habits the analysts have been pointing to the growth in the omni channel approach for the last few years.

The debate appears to be no longer about whether or not it is happening but by how much and retailers of all shapes and sizes have to get involved to ensure they protect their revenues.

Omni Channel

SAP consultancy Bluefin Solutions has been charting the growth in the omni channel and has gathered lots of statistics about the development including 2012 Deloitte research that found that shoppers using the web and mobile would spend 71% more than those just going in stores. An Aberdeen Group study a year later also pointed to higher customer loyalty as a benefit.

Those retailers worried about the investment in traditional bricks and mortar being undermined by the omni channel approach could also take heart from an xAd study that found 77% of smartphone transactions happened in store.

As Bluefin states on its website: "In five years' time, Omni channel as a phrase will be dead and buried: it will simply be the way we shop".

“Giving consumers choices in terms of the way they can research, experience and buy products is very important in retail today and the processes we are now putting in place will help retailers to address the many challenges this brings. With our extensive logistics capabilities," added Boyce "We are already working with many retail partners, helping them to give their customers additional choices, whilst staying in control of the associated costs.”

Having made the investment in the market Boyce expects other retailers will start working with the channel player and it is looking to grow the number of relationships in the coming months.

“We have the systems, processes, people, resources and partnerships in place and we are ready to extend our reach much further," said Boyce.

The other change that should starty to filter through fairly quickly is the addition to the vendor roster of some of those that specifically target the retail market. The distributor is already holding discussions with potential signings.

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