Retail and Digital Innovations.

Retail e Innovazioni Digitali

[button link=”” icon=”none” target=”” color=”a30b0b” textcolor=”ffffff”]TESTO ITALIANO[/button]

by Paolo Zanardi e Simona Fiore – XT Retail

We would  talk about Retail & Digital when it was considered as an additional opportunity for those operating in this sector.

Although the retail evolution had already been infected by the arrival, a few years ago, of new communication platforms, as well as new devices, applications and software, now the today’s situation has led to an inevitable acceleration.

As often happens to the human being we have adapted quickly, or if until yesterday “physical” business meetings were considered indispensable, by going to the offices of the respective companies, now the situation, which oblige to stay at home, even for the most strategic subject, it is not so essential to meet physically.

Established  that digital platforms  give us support that, in some cases, is equally effective, without further waste of energy, time and resources.

The XT Company inevitably have been catapulted into new dynamics and we run across new ways to approach our work, enhancing services for our customers.

In the first lockdown, webinar meetings multiplied like mushrooms, leaving us perplexed about the real development and the possibility to create new business solutions.

From a short survey with our suppliers and customers, part of our perplexities had a reason by confirming that they are only words, even if they keep alert attention on Retail (and the fear to  justify a salary) in a period in which the sales points were suffering and undergoing from the biggest crisis in recent years.

A different matter  the second lockdown last autumn, during which companies, both out of necessity or  they had finally understood the usefulness of these tools, they developed new ideas and projects,  making the most of technology.

In Retail also for many sectors we had to find new ways to create not only courses in presence, but also via zoom live courses or work out didactic material that could allow operators in the sector to continue training and update on various activities of the sales point.

As a consequence the development of several products granting a better management, in addition to some information and activities once red tape and very often unnecessary information.

Retail and Digital Innovations

In the Visual Merchandising sector, I think finally, have become popular a series of digital devices suitable for the shopfitting through the staff and avoid itinerant people, raising the level of sales staff and improving the flow of communication. making it leaner and more effective.

Let’s start, for example, with our application for retail companies: an App designed to improve and support the work of Visual Merchandisers who must ensure digital consistency and consistency in an increasingly omnichannel context.

Planning, sharing and communicating in real time are the foundations on which all the functions of VisualGO are developed, and contribute  to reduce the redundancy of tools, prevent  mistakes and increase the efficiency of field operators.

This App supports the work of managers that have to make a decision and share guidelines and activities by Visual Guidelines, planning of associated task into the sales point, checking and approval of the pictures from the stores  and oversight the working in progress.

Furthermore, VisualGo in the sales point supports the work of those who have to carry out the assigned tasks. The App allows to view the guidelines of the headquarters and assignments, share the pictures of the equipment real time, chat with the area manager or the VM manager, approve or review images and leave comments.

We have developed this App precisely to meet specific customer requirements, that is, to immediately monitor the works in the stores rather than by physical travel. At the moment, everything is done with a toolkit (WhatsApp, e-mail, other drives), assembled in a single application comparable to a social media, therefore accessible to anyone.


Going into the training field, we have developed some proposals and enter our customers to various training formulas for their sales point

retail training

• the traditional classroom plus shop formula

• online training courses in synchronous mode with the teacher and direct interaction

• the creation of the first digital school exclusively devoted  to retail based on the direct experience of teachers who have personally lived all the evolutionary phases of the retail supply chain for specific competencies: the Retail School

• online training in asynchronous mode, with video pills to support Retail School courses or face-to-face courses.

Retail School

Retail School

The Retail School was born as a training project for Retail with general courses for all sectors. It can be used both by individuals and by personnel who already work within companies, and it is also offered to the latter in a customizable way with ad hoc logo and content.

In fact, it can become a Business Academy with training courses involving both operational and managerial aspects of the sales point, and on the product. It is a request that is beginning to be widespread among different XT customers, because it represents a step forward in the continuous training of staff.

The specific Retail School path for companies has the following characteristics

• a subscription available for a number of company users, which can be activated according to customized timings

• access to the complete online catalog of digital pills/lessons belonging to all Retail School teaching categories

• access to the complete catalog of video pills/online lessons held by the Teachers and Experts of the Retail School

• the possibility of adding specific resources and training contents dedicated to the Brand/Company

customization and branding of the Retail School platform with dedicated subdomain, company logo and colors.

XT Retail School

The Retail School subscription dedicated to companies allows the personalized management of the training of each resource of its staff.

Each business user will have his access to the online platform and follow his training at any time and place, even on the move on smartphones and tablets; company managers can check online the progress of the paths followed by each user.

The path may include a series of quizzes and evaluation  tests that will allow to ascertain the degree of learning, also with the possibility of certifying the acquired skills through the issue of online certificates customized for the company.

A further innovative aspect consists in the possibility of booking a reservation to investigate on questions and doubts directly with the teacher, to ensure a direct human relationship with the trainers and not only through the platform.

In addition to the visual sector, and implementing the services provided by the Retail School, we have developed the digitization of the Visual Guidelines, a service enable to aid customers to speed up the updating of company guidelines, and above all has ensured a greater interactive approach, to allow the store personnel to actively use them.

We designed them thinking of an interactive training course, in which there are intermediate verification steps to test the level of learning and always keeping up the attention. Stop to Visual Book like brick, that nobody ever  read: hundreds of pages, repetitive and superfluous! In addition, the platform works as Netflix: you can decide your training  according to anyone wishes. That is the “on demand” mode, we really starting to look a lot more and which is rapidly eclipsing the traditional TV entertainment.

Digital Visual book

The Digital Visual Book will contain textual elements, images, videos, as well as activities that stimulate user interaction, such as hotspots, quick tests and other engaging systems.

Retail and Digital Innovations

As the popularity of this project, we decided to implement it with additional tools and share them with our customers. The idea is that we aware that  the company guidelines are never static, but are constantly updated, both in the seasons and in the collections. Consequently, seasonal guidelines must be added to the standard visual guidelines, as well as “best practices” and advices to create the equipment.

We have therefore updated the tool by adding current contents and share then with the sales points. After that we have possibility of creating exhibition planograms, to be immediately shared in the visual guidelines, without the use of different  programs and without the need to have a high design expertise. A real breakthrough in the marketing processes of the store, which gives the means to automatically communicate and share updates in real time.

It is clear that the keywords are always the same: on-demand training, timing, sharing, communication in real time. In fact, we have received from all our interlocutors and customers to close the physical distance through digital media and tools, which is a process, as anticipated in the previous years, but absolutely necessary in the current situation

Following this need, it represents a fundamental additional to create a quick store visit which feedback immediately reaches  the headquarters. A real-time communication flow to learn about the sales and the management trend of the sales point, by using the “store check” app, a tool for area managers, which allows to lighten the reports, directly created inside the store.

Another version of this application was designed for mystery client activities on different aspects of the sales point, created to improve and  implement one several services that XT Retail offers to its customers. This application, as a “store check”, may  process quick reporting on site, as feedback and the result of the activity carried out on site.

At this point the tools are all there as well as the skills. Until there’s nothing but wait for the reopening of the sales points, hoping to be supported with professionals with new life and strength have the capacity to change an occupation that is  underestimated or considered be able to count on an army of professionals who find new life and the ability to change a profession that has long been underestimated or a fallback compared to other jobs.

by AN shopfitting magazine no.161 ©