No Quick Picks: The Right Retail Technology Makes a Difference


If brick and mortar retail is to survive, retailers can’t just sell technology, but they must use technology in new and smart ways. Plus, it can’t be gadgets for the sake of gadgets, but must help customers in measurable ways.

What that looks like is continued to evolve. It might be installing iPad stations where shoppers can browse (and hopefully buy) products that they can’t find on the retail floor. It may be putting up big screen TVs to showcase the latest technology and waiting for the orders to flow in.

The spray and pray technique doesn’t work, so it’s necessary to take a step back and take a different perspective. Why do consumers go to a retail store? Apparently, they want to buy something.  They have a need or a problem. Or they might not have an immediate problem, but are window shopping the newest iteration of a favorite problem. That would be more of a potential problem. At the end of the day, it is always about solving peoples’ problems.

As a kid, my lower middle class family shopped for new clothes a handful of times each year, usually around a big holiday. Everyone in the family got to go to the cloth store with an assigned budget and get the most that we could from our money. We’d take that cloth to a tailor and give him measurements and the clothes would be ready in a week. We’d go and make sure it fit well and was the style we wanted.

Of course, now, it’s a whole different world. I choose a retailer who sells ready-made clothes. I find a store that has a style I like, that sells on-trend products. These retailers work to make sure that they have these high-demand items stocked in various sizes. It’s much easier but there’s still a problem. Not every size is in the store—I wear an odd size and they almost never have it. In the end, I almost always need to take my “ready-made” clothes to the tailor to be shortened in the hem.

Further, my needs have evolved. As a software engineer, I could do my job wearing just about anything. When I changed into a customer facing role and travelled to customer sites to deploy systems, I had to pay special attention to my fashion. I needed to instill confidence in the customers that I will get the job done. As a brown Indian guy, it is even more challenging when all your peers are mostly Caucasian Americans.

Then I got promoted to design architect, where I led teams of people, anywhere from five to 20, in week long end-to-end design meetings. I need to provide solutions to these executives that move millions and even billions of dollars’ worth of merchandise through the supply chain. Again, how I dressed really mattered.

Now, I have transitioned into sales roles. It is even more important because I have very little time to win the confidence of the people, build that relationship and make them understand that our product and our company can solve the problem they are having. All these start with clothing. That’s true of every professional today.

All retailers, from those who sell technology to those who sell clothes are evolving in similar ways.  It’s critical to engage the customer in ways that allow you to address their pain point. It starts with segmenting the market. In apparel, it might be babies, kids, adult women, and adult men, for example. Or for technology it might be power users and beginners or professionals and gamers.

Originally published at on Feb 28, 2018.

Puga Sankara is the co-founder of Smart Gladiator LLC. Smart Gladiator designs, builds, and delivers market-leading mobile technology for retailers, distributors, and 3PL service providers. SG LoadProof is a patent pending Centralized Enterprise Photo/Video Document System on Cloud for Supply Chain. SG LP is built on the fact that photos & videos are vital docs as important as POs/SOs/Legal Contracts/Fulfillment Orders that reside in ERP/WMS/TMS systems, that serve as compelling, conclusive, unequivocal proof of crucial, critical, vital operations executed in Supply Chain within/across orgs when fulfilling customer orders as well as meeting contractual obligations between orgs as merchandise is transferred between different parties that partake in Supply Chain functions & operations. And these photos/videos data should not be stored in someone’s Smartphone or Email Inbox or in their personal/work Computer, but should be stored in a Centralized Enterprise system, where such data can be pushed into super-fast, stored securely, accessible to all stake holders (CFO/Sales Reps/Customer Support/AR/AP) in an org, as well as facilitates super-fast retrieval/sharing. LP is an Enterprise System of record for Photo/Video docs & is as important as an ERP which is an enterprise system of record for POs, SOs, Legal Contracts between parties etc. that have huge legal ramifications, also as important as a WMS (Warehouse Management System) that hold indispensable shipment & fulfillment data on orders. Like how Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat etc. have evolved into social media platforms/systems that enable individuals to showcase their beauty/pretty clothes/lovely cosmetics/hep coolness etc., LoadProof is an Enterprise system that holds similar photos/videos, but for a different reason, not for show off, but to serve as compelling, conclusive, unequivocal & indisputable system of record and proof that can be presented even in the court of law, when there is a dispute between parties while they execute many facets of the Supply Chain functions & operations. Puga is a supply chain technology professional with more than 25 years of experience in deploying capabilities in the logistics and supply chain domain. His prior roles involved managing complicated mission-critical programs driving revenue numbers, rolling out a multitude of capabilities involving more than a dozen systems, and managing a team of 30 to 50 personnel across multiple disciplines and departments in large corporations such as Hewlett Packard. He has deployed WMS for more than 30 distribution centers in his role as a senior manager with Manhattan Associates. He has also performed process analysis walk-throughs for more than 50 distribution centers for WMS process design and performance analysis review, optimizing processes for better productivity and visibility through the supply chain. Size of these DCs varied from 150,000 to 1.2 million SQFT. Puga Sankara has an MBA from Georgia Tech. He can be reached at [email protected] or visit the company at Also follow him at