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Interview with Keith Sherry

Face2Face
Keith Sherry
Keith Sherry
COO
SATO Global Solutions
SATO Global Solutions

How does your software foster speed in product lifecycle management?

The Vision Retail platform increases efficiency and stock accuracy. For example, if a shopper picks up a shirt, carries it elsewhere in the store, and then abandons it, a sales associate will be notified of the items location, reducing misplaced inventory and increasing on-shelf availability and workforce efficiency. And if the last on-display garment is sold, the application will notify the sales associate in real-time that the item needs to be replenished, to ensure that the right merchandise mix is always displayed. 

Additionally, the real-time data collected allows retailers to understand the behaviour of customers in the store by providing unprecedented insights into what customers are buying, the time periods footfall is the highest, the customer journey within the store, and merchandising effectiveness, enabling retailers to make more accurate inventory stocking decisions without the worry of overstocking.

For markets with and without technological know-how, what strategies help SGS make headway?

Our platform can be implemented on a current IT network or on a stand-alone network. Because it is a plug and play solution, limited IT involvement from an organisation is needed and no additional servers or data-centre applications need to be purchased. Additionally, the system is fully supported by SGS - we provide the expertise and guidance around the platform. Therefore, there's no need for on-site experts in IoT tech.

How do you meet the needs of modern business, particularly apparel segment?

The secret of successful retailing in the digital age is to create digitally-enabled connection points across business, consumer and employee processes. For example, technologies like RFID, smart labels and sensors play a role in helping manage inventory. They feed data into a centralised platform and you know if an item exists and how many of it you have in a warehouse or within the retail store.

One component of our Vision Retail Platform, the sales associate application, uses these technologies to give sales associates inventory visibility within their store and a list of concrete tasks that maintain items on the shelves and reduce out-of-stocks. Another component of the platform is the smart fitting room application, which allows customers to view in-store inventory while in the dressing room, as well an option to alert an associate's mobile device when, for example, a different colour or size is needed. The store associate receives the alert and can instantly see where the item is located, enabling them to deliver the right item to the fitting room within minutes. 

Additionally, the platform arms associates with customer behaviour data. Insights into this behaviour can help inform associate workflows, optimise operations and create a better shopper experience both online and in stores.

How do you upgrade the solutions with technology changes?

We are constantly advancing our software and work closely with retailers to easily push out new updates. Our platform can be adapted as new on-site technologies come to market, enabling retailers to integrate additional components at any time. Additionally, we are not just a solutions provider but also a retail partner. We don't believe there should ever be a siloed approach to enhance an in-store experience. We take a consultative approach to ensure that retailers using our platform are always adapting and growing as the industry changes.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of Vision Retail Platform?

Our platform gives retailers unprecedented insights into store performance, inventory management and customer behaviour. The retailer's investment in implementing and operating the platform pays off in an increase in stock turnover, increased engagement of the store's workforce in direct revenue-generating activities and in expanding the addressable customer base beyond the shopper traffic.  

While these insights can be the driving force behind enhancing the in-store experience, they can also expose retailers to their current shortfalls. When retailers implement the solutions, they must be prepared to gain these insights - both good and bad - and use them as a starting point to reap the benefits. 

What are the opportunities and challenges for your business?

Retailers are inundated with data. Our platform cuts through the noise by giving them actionable data that triggers relevant events - telling associates in the store what to do and when. For example, data collected within retailers' smart fitting rooms can give associates information about the customers during a critical point of purchase helping them close the sale. 

Additionally, the platform is designed to integrate seamlessly with emerging technologies enabling retailers to meet the needs of future shoppers. The biggest challenge in our industry is keeping brick-and-mortar retailers relevant in the digital age.

What, according to you, are the top five disruptors that IoT is set to bring in in the textile, fashion and retail industries?

1) Augmented reality (AR)
2) Artificial intelligence (AI), including computer vision and machine learning
3) Sensor networks (beacons, RFID)
4) Store infrastructure and connectivity
5) Technology integration to deliver actionable insights in-store (RR)

Published on: 13/12/2017

DISCLAIMER: All views and opinions expressed in this column are solely of the interviewee, and they do not reflect in any way the opinion of Fibre2Fashion.com.

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