Serving the needs of retailers

Despite being an extremely diverse sector, with the right software platform all retailers can enjoy the benefits of automation, reporting and data to improve both the top and bottom lines

Andrea Wallace, director of Ireland, Unifii: ‘We got it to the point where 98 per cent of issues they were having were dealt with by a virtual agent.’

Retail has long been one of the most challenging business sectors, but with customer expectations growing and in the face of global competition, they can no longer sit back and hope that customers simply arrive.

Despite this, however, the right technology platform can significantly smooth operations behind the scenes.

Andrea Wallace, director at Unifii, which is an Elite ServiceNow Partner, said that not only was retail a complex sector faced with challenges in stock control, supply chain complexity and accounting, it was also very diverse.

Company Profile

Company name: Unifii

Year founded: 2010

Number of staff: 140

“There are different retail sectors, and they are very different. They have different needs. For example, you have some businesses where it is all very much about efficiency, quick turnover and cost control. If you compare that to, for instance, the luxury goods sector where it may be about brand experience, then the needs will be very different,” she said.

Other factors can have a major impact, she said, such as seasonal demand or the difficulty of handling perishable goods.

“Retailers dealing with perishable goods such as groceries, fresh produce, require robust inventory management systems with real-time tracking to minimise waste and ensure freshness. In contrast, retailers with non-perishable goods may focus more on supply chain efficiency and demand forecasting,” she said.

“There are also different levels of supply chain complexity: retailers operating globally may face more complex supply chain challenges, such as cross-border logistics, customs regulations, and currency fluctuations. On the other hand, local retailers may prioritise community engagement and localised inventory.”

As a result, Unifii takes a consultative approach to ServiceNow implementation, finding out what individual retail clients require and tailoring the system to meet their particular needs.

Wallace said that in the case of one client, a major retailer in Ireland, this meant that the vast majority of internal issues were addressed by artificial intelligence, something that greatly sped up workflows.

“We got it to the point where 98 per cent of issues they were having were dealt with by a virtual agent,” she said.

The drive to omni-channel

One key challenge that many retailers face today is the need to offer e-commerce in addition to traditional brick-and-mortar operations. This adds extra complexity in some cases. For example, while one Golden Delicious apple may be the same as another, a book ordered online cannot be substituted with a different one if someone walks into a shop and picks up the last copy at the same time.

Unifii can help with this, Wallace said.

“It’s a question of stock management and you have inventory management solutions and supply chain integration. It’s completely doable,” she said.

Unifii can also deploy a customer service management (CSM) solution as part of ServiceNow that allows retailers to react to customer queries and demands, including returns, in a coherent manner.

Unifii fully integrates ServiceNow with e-commerce platforms, allowing for a unified view of customer interactions, order history and preferences. This enables retailers to provide a more personalised and efficient shopping experience.

“We can leverage the CSM module to streamline and enhance customer service processes. This includes managing customer inquiries, tracking orders, and providing personalised support, contributing to a positive customer experience,” Wallace said.

The user and customer experience does not stop there, however. Unifii can customise ServiceNow’s user interface to align with the retailer’s brand and design preferences. Wallace said: “It ensures a seamless and branded user experience.”

Of course, retail as a sector is one that benefits especially from the ability to use a platform like ServiceNow in order to understand the nitty-gritty of the business.

“Analytics and reporting are particularly crucial. Everything is reportable, even by the end of the day they can see a report,” she said.

Ultimately, Wallace said, Unifii did more than provide access to ServiceNow’s cloud platform. Instead, it helped retailers to drive efficiency, even to the point of helping them to quickly pivot to meet changing customer needs.

“We become like an external part of the team,” she said.

“Every company is different, and so that’s why we do workshops with them to see what they need and adapt it to their requirements.”