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Retail Lessons From Korea

The divide between north and south Korean is probably the world’s biggest demonstration of how parts of a whole can be so divided with completely polar objectives.

 To me, this often looks like the division between various parts of a retail business. 

 You have IT wanting to invest in the new and exciting in-store advancements in technology, technology that would help the business grow revenues and succeed…

 BUT then you have the Kim Jong-un of the finance department oppressing your dreams and aspirations by limiting your budget and ability to invest for the good of the people, your customers.

So… what does one do?

Transformation and success like that seen by South Korea, transformation that made the country an economic powerhouse, demands investment.

Current research is showing that 75% of shoppers are using their mobile device in-store as part of their shopping experience… yet limitations in available IT budget is preventing investment and is obstructing the IT Manager in taking advantage of this unprecedented opportunity.

Taking advantage of new in-store technology is one of the top five business priorities for many retailers, who are investing in the appropriate infrastructure to address this strategic necessity.

But like North Korea, many retailers are on the verge of economic collapse. 

Granted a lack of investment in IT is not going to leave people starving and dying in the streets, but the Centre for Retail Research is forecasting that 164 major or medium sized retailers will fail this year in the UK alone, with the closure of 22,600 stores and the loss of 140,000 jobs.

But if there is only so much IT budget to go around, how does an IT Manager make ends meet?

The answer is simple… You cut costs in one area and reinvest the savings in the other!

I know that sounds simplistic, but it is, and we have lots of clients who are doing just that.  I don’t want to name names in this public forum, but…

  • One of our newest clients saved half a million PER YEAR in network costs by coming to us and invested that in mobility solutions that now capture nearly 2,000 new email addresses every month from people that visit their stores.
  • Another captures the details of over 3,500 store visitors each month to which the marketing organisation can now push promotions and offers to drive sales and revenue.

Your marketing organisation is looking for the tools to develop a digital relationship with both new and existing customers.

New in-store technology is providing those tools with products like the Cisco CMX making it easy to detect, connect and engage with shoppers.

Your strategy should therefore be to:

  1. Lower your costs and save as much money as possible on connectivity and core infrastructure (without diminishing performance and security of course) and…
  2. Use those IT budget savings to invest in technology that can drive sales and increase customer satisfaction.

Even Kim Jong-un is starting to realise that his strategy of oppression isn’t working and is now opening up talks with South Korea in an attempt to renew relationships with people who might be able to help.

I might not be a global leader, but I am here to help and I’m open to talk.


Simon Brassington

Director, Blaze Networks Limited

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