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The Return of Brick and Mortar Retailers

Most would agree that 2021 has dealt brick and mortar retail outlets a hard hand; store closures nationwide have made it harder than ever to run a viable business.

As an example, retail giant Primark look set to lose over £500 million in its first financial year, and the downfall of retail titans Debenhams and Topshop have proven this fact. This lull in activity can be deceptive though, the most dynamic physical retailers have used the downtime time to innovate and revolutionise their business practises.  

Loss of earnings due to store closures has made life hard for retailers. Retailers are looking for ways to survive, improve and hopefully find ways to cultivate a strong rebound. What doesn’t kill you, right? Digitalisation is the popular answer, it holds the power to revolutionise operations and reduce costs while providing the tools to understand the brick-and-mortar environment better. 

Why Are Retailers Opting For Digitalisation? 

Innovations such as digital systems and next-generation IoT technology can provide the means to, not only survive lockdown but to come back stronger.  

Implementation of technology can drive efficiency by reducing lighting consumption in stores, which account for around 20% of the electricity consumed in the UK. Digitalisation can also reduce lighting maintenance costs, as studies have shown that establishing a basic lighting maintenance programme can reduce costs by up to 15%. Additionally, energy savings of 20% can be the same as a 5% increase in sales for physical retailers. 

Digitalisation can add value to retail businesses in the long term by increasing brand exposure and delivering the brand image as a forward-thinking innovative company. In the short-term, improved sales from an increase in traffic in the stores.  

Zara has introduced digital innovations into their retail environments, by implementing self-checkout technology. This automated process removes human interaction and generates the sought-after, frictionless shopping experience. Self-checkout technology has been advanced numerous times in recent years, Loss Prevention Solutions are designed to operate with these machines to drastically reduce loss. One facet of digitalisation that Zara could vastly benefit from. 

Hark’s Retail Antidote 

Improving efficiency is vital for physical retailers to remain competitive. The Hark Platform has been specifically developed for this purpose. Our Loss Prevention Solution takes advantage of the latest breakthrough technology to identify each individual item in a store and track its journey from procurement to sale, or theft. The solution uses existing IP-enabled cameras mounted at strategic locations, with an AI and machine-learning integrated, cloud-based platform to effectively identify patterns of loss. It can even instantly reduce loss by locating signs of the event occurring and sending signals to the relevant employees to intercept the theft, this help retailers cut down on some of the yearly £5.5 billion in shrinkage. 

Innovation requires businesses to constantly evaluate their best practices, and pivot to best tackle problems. RFID was one innovation, now our solution has updated this and added another dimension. Providing full visibility within a physical store and adding to a cost-saving which is already proving incredibly useful to physical stores. 

The retail experience is what drives return visits, the next big trend to enhance this is creating a seamless, frictionless shopping journey. The Hark Platform seeks to aid this transition; the Loss Prevention Solution removes barriers put in place to prevent theft. Glass displays, security tags, security barriers; are tokens of an outdated world. Technology is the symbol of the future.

To learn more, read our case study on how our solution revolutionised a UK Top 4 retailer. 

Bradley Halstead
Bradley Halstead

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