19 December 2023

Simac builds the store of the future with customers

What does the store of the future look like? The answer to the question is different for every retailer. Simac thinks along with clients about the developments in retail and technology and how they can lay the foundation for the store of the future with targeted IT investments. Jonathan van Raaij, product marketing manager store at Simac IT NL: "Clients expect a proactive attitude from us. We are happy to give substance to that."

Imagine walking through a store with your phone and scanning the environment, the screen lighting up when your favorite product comes into view. Or staying on the couch with your VR glasses and virtually strolling through that same store and then adding the product to your virtual shopping cart. These are applications of AR and VR technology that are already possible today, but still seem far away for many retailers.

"Or take the metaverse, a virtual universe in which you can create a whole new store and thus a whole new sales channel. In games like Fortnite, it is already possible to buy virtual products that you can use in the game. I know families where the kids would rather spend their birthday money in such a virtual world than in the real world," Jonathan says.

Store of the future

The above future scenarios are part of Simac's long-term vision of the store of the future. Jonathan joined Simac IT NL a year ago as product marketing manager store with formulating that vision as one of his tasks. To do so, he naturally drew on his own knowledge and experience as a consultant at Boer & Croon and chairman of ShoppingTomorrow's Phygital Commerce expert session, as well as input from technology partners, market analysts and Simac's own experts. "In recent months we have presented this vision to several retail customers of Simac. They reacted positively surprised. Often with the comment that they didn't know that Simac thought along with clients about retail developments to this extent."

The latter was exactly the intention. Simac is an IT partner with strong roots in retail and a very long track record when it comes to implementing, managing and maintaining IT solutions.

Jonathan van Raaij product marketing manager Simac

"If a retailer runs into a problem or wants to implement a new technology, we can integrate that solution into the existing landscape, roll it out and manage it. For that, we get a lot of appreciation from our retail customers. But what those same customers also want is a partner who thinks proactively, points out future developments and indicates what they mean for the retailer's IT landscape. It is my job to make clear what we are already strong in, but also to tell them about the services we are developing to strengthen this proactive approach. In addition, I also focus on further developing and improving our existing services and adding innovative, concrete solutions."

America Today & MS Mode

Those who want to integrate their online and offline channels to introduce concepts such as click & collect or click & reserve cannot do without a modern POS system. 

Read the article

Store consultancy

Simac's retail portfolio consists of four components: store consultancy, installation & roll-out, Simac Retail Support Services and store technology refreshment. Each component can always be improved. For example, as far as Simac Retail Support Services is concerned, Simac is working on expanding the self-service portal so that clients can use it to submit and track change requests. In addition, Simac is constantly working on a smarter approach to cause even less inconvenience on the store floor during installation & roll-out of new technologies. "But the focus is also on the other two components," Jonathan points out.

"Store technology refreshment flows from our Simac Retail Support Services services. We know what the client's IT landscape looks like and what the developments in the market are. On that basis, we can advise the client on future investments in the IT landscape. By further improving our services in this area, we can add more and more value."

As for store consulting, Simac wants to play a more prominent role in developing new IT roadmaps for stores. "No, we are not going to sit in the retailer's chair. They themselves know best how to reach and serve their customers and what their strategy should look like. But at some point that strategy has to be translated into new store concepts including the new technologies that go with them. That is a process that is usually driven by the business, with the IT team only being called in at the very end for execution and implementation. That is when choices have often already been made that are difficult to put into practice. Choices for technical solutions that are not secure and future-proof, for example. We would like to get involved earlier, so that we can help think about the details of those technical solutions. So that you don't invest in hundreds of PDAs that turn out to be unsuitable for new applications three years from now. That's what we want to be good at."

Employee experience

Those technological advances include more than the network and in-store POS systems. A secure network is increasingly viewed as a kind of utility that simply must function at all times. POS systems including self-scanning checkouts remain crucial to facilitating transactions and generating sales. But in addition, the employee and customer experience demand more and more attention. "It is becoming increasingly difficult to find and retain store employees. The question is whether to let them restock shelves or advise customers. Good tools can help make the work more efficient and fun, because more time is left for helping customers. Consider PDAs with dedicated apps for communication and task management, as well as electronic shelf labels. For example, the latest generation of shelf labels have lights that help with order picking on the store floor. As an order picker walks through the store, the red lights show him which products to pick. So he no longer wastes time looking for the right products. Moreover, this limits the inconvenience for the customers," Jonathan says.

Jumbo & Simac

More than ever, the focus is on the X of Xperience: how satisfied are Jumbo store employees with the services offered? With XLA, Jumbo and Simac are putting the IT customer first.

Read more

We already know that technology helps improve the customer experience. Think of screens that offer customized content, but also new payment solutions such as SoftPOS applications that turn PDAs into mobile cash registers. "That customer experience doesn't have to be lavish, but it does have to align with your strategy as a retailer. Customers have a completely different expectation when they walk into a discounter like Aldi or a department store like Bijenkorf," explains Jonathan

"In addition, we want to focus more on in-store analytics. Our technology partners such as Cisco, for example, offer all kinds of hardware and software solutions that allow us to collect a wealth of data. Data on how customers move through the store, how they feel and behave and which shelves they stay in front of. Analysis of that data provides retailers with new insights they can use to improve the employee and customer experience and increase sales."

Sustainability Dashboard

The first concrete results of the new approach are already visible. Together with its partners, Simac is working on total solutions, in which the partners supply the technology and Simac the additional services. An example is Connectivity-as-a-Service, a service model in which retailers can purchase connectivity in the form of a total package of network hardware and services.

Another example is the expansion of the Simac Remote Management Suite with a sustainability dashboard. "This allows us to measure and reduce energy consumption in stores. Customers can take their own measures to reduce energy consumption based on the insights, but it is much more efficient to have Simac do this. Based on various parameters, we can switch off certain systems, obviously taking into account opening hours and the time windows in which patches are installed and updates take place. In this way we can contribute to the sustainability goals with a relatively small effort and save thousands of euros on an annual basis." Retailers can expect even more in the near future.

"We are getting more and more technology in our stores, particularly to support employees and improve the customer experience," Jonathan says. "That's why we recommend mapping both the employee and customer journey. What challenges do they face? What needs arise during those journeys? And what technologies could you use to fill them? Then see which solutions fit best with your strategy and your formula. And use those as a foundation for step-by-step development towards the store of the future."

Do you have a question for us? Then get in touch, we are happy to help.
Jonathan van Raaij Simac IT NL