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August 30, 2022


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Retail security

Using security technology to make human connections on the high street

It is no easy accomplishment to reimagine the UK’s high street, especially in a post-COVID world. Against a backdrop of news and views suggesting it does not have a future, Matt Gregg, Traka Business Development Manager – Retail, argues the opposite, and explains how security technology has a role to play in empowering customer interactions.

As an industry, we can empower the use of intelligent technology, for retailers to embrace the new style of consumer. This acknowledges desires for ‘doing something different,’ and offering bricks and mortar experiences that are more dynamic, concentrated and more local.

We can support by incorporating what cannot be recreated online, with the technology enabled to offer a similar sense of instant information and delivery of a smooth and efficient service.

Setting the scene

The pandemic accelerated changes to the high street that have been ongoing for years. Lockdown restrictions that forced the nation to stay home for long periods of time led to a rise in online shopping, while at the same time, workers who once spent five days a week commuting to big cities spent more time and money locally.

As consumers were obliged to re-think their spending patterns, stories of store closures dominated the headlines, with the likes of Debenhams, Jessops and Arcadia – the ex-owner of major high street brands including Topshop – each entering administration.


1,400 retailers entered administration since 2010 and consultancy giant Deloitte reckons another 30,000 stores could close by the end of 2022.

Summing up the changes, John Timpson, Chairman of the UK shoe-repair company said: “What we have seen is ten years of change on the high street all in one go.”

Whilst the statistics make for grim reading, now is the time to re-think and to invest in the future of the British high street. This involves setting aside the political views to save the high street, as our retail environment is a crucial part of rebuilding Britain’s economy.

As John Bason, Finance Director at Primark’s parent company ABF added: “I think the demise of the high street is way overstated, but it is changing. There’s no doubt over it.”

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Post-pandemic high street

The key to longevity and future of the high street depends on the human connection that retailers can foster with the public. The one aspect that cannot be replicated in any online shopping experience.

It’s significant to emphasise the change in spending habits, changing from ‘stuff to self.’ Where demand for goods is quick, and delivery is expected on an instant basis. Testament to this is the growth of Amazon Prime, which is adding a small number of bricks and mortar retail brands to its same-day delivery.

As retailers continue to adapt, technology should not be used as a crutch. Instead, it should empower those who provide real human customer experiences in retail teams.

Rather than providing field teams with yet another tool to manage, resources can help teams reach sales goals with safe and secure means of technology that empowers their customer interactions.

Security technology can focus on implementing omnichannel strategies to connect retail’s online and offline worlds, as well as hyper-personalisation and localisation to create unique experiences and connections between customers, store associates and brands.

Intelligent technology can offer end-to-end capabilities, with the ability to connect headquarters to regional store managers and field teams. Using messaging and newsfeed options to improve your team’s understanding of company goals, merchandise and services.

This is not only essential for those front-line teams to quickly answer questions about offerings when interacting with shoppers, but also this can work towards consumers’ priorities, emphasising a need for fast and reliable delivery of products.

Department store solutions

Speaking about the use of intelligent management technology and its impact on a leading UK department store, a representative said: “We are devoted to working on every aspect of our operations, to continue our pledge of delivering quality products and outstanding service.

“We want to streamline our stores and online services to be equally enjoyable places to shop. We are aware we need to respond to personalised customer queries quickly and efficiently, with the right information on any product or service.

“To achieve this, we need our customer-facing teams to be equipped with fast working intelligent technology. Traka excelled at providing a branch solution that allows us to not only store dedicated devices securely, but also integrates into our daily operational systems. We can track where each device is and provide staff with peace of mind that every device is fully charged and up to date with our latest exclusive offers.”

Primark systems

Another example, Primark, was the ultimate store to show how COVID presented the risk of having a store only estate. With their average £650m in weekly sales nosedive to nothing without an online presence, and posting a £430m sales hit amongst the second lockdown.

There was light at the end of the tunnel. Primark came back fighting and by the first half of 2022, had surged 60% year on year.

Primark launched a selective click and collect service in 2022. As George Weston, chief executive of Primark’s parent company, Associated British Foods (ABF), explains: “Primark has been looking for the best way to enter the online market, but if you’re late to the party – which it is – you need to do it in the most profitable way possible.”

Primark has selected the click and collect model, in the hope that if consumers have purchased online, then “we hope they will buy something else while they are in store as well.”

READ: Retail theft – The growing frontline threat in a cost-of-living squeeze?

To ensure its continued success, it has invested in security technology to ensure maximum efficiency and safety across its warehouse and distribution centres.

To create effective turnaround times, Traka’s multifunctional technology was installed to stop vehicles prematurely leaving Goods Out Bays, alongside intelligent key management systems.

As the Operations Development Manager explained: “Primark’s products fly off the shelves and rails, so we need to get our products from suppliers to stores as quickly and as safely as possible.

“Implementing the Traka DockSafe has been critical here. Not only is it simple to use, but also provides data on driver activity and bay usage, as well as increased peace of mind thanks to the prevention of driveways. It ensures the system runs like clockwork, which is great news for our colleagues whilst working hard to deliver amazing fashion to our customers.”

Push for security technology

With the new style consumer now starting their shopping journey in one channel, and finishing it in another, retailers have to redefine the role of the physical space as a real extension of the brand, offering consistent service across all channels.

To achieve this, retail teams have been under tremendous pressure — from implementing constantly evolving compliance measures to pandemic periods of interacting with both customers and colleagues from a distance.

Following on from this experience, the longevity and future of the high street now depends on the human connection that retailers can foster with the public. This cannot be simulated online.

The use of security technology for retail performance has proven to empower a workforce, providing them with the communication, operation and analytics tools required to bridge the digital and physical worlds, the online and offline shopping experience, increase efficiency and provide visibility.

This approach gives the retail high street hope against a challenging economic climate, to not only survive, but thrive and meet the needs of the new post-pandemic consumer.

As Deloitte concludes: “The high street should not be written off just yet. It does indeed have a future, and an exciting one at that.”


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