Retail technology and the ongoing effort to put the customer first
As technology advances, forward-thinking retailers are racing to implement new efficiencies that will both streamline their business processes and provide their customers with convenience, value, and more reasons to choose their store over the competition.
However, with so much potential and so much to focus on – both on the back end as well as the customer-facing side – where’s the dividing line between what the customer wants and what’s possible?
Not all solutions are going to work for all stores. Having undergone a digital transformation, an enterprise-level store with multiple outlets would find more benefit from many of the available technology solutions, whereas smaller stores might need to focus on other, more straightforward ways to engage.
Here are some of the top customer-focused retail technology we see today:
1. Buy online, pickup in store (BOPIS)
In terms of technology, customers care more about convenience than just about anything else. In a recent iVend survey on global shopping trends, the findings suggest that consumers are less attracted to the “sexy” and the ultra-futuristic than they are in having a convenient shopping experience. In this study, released in Q1 of 2019, BOPIS is one of the top most desirable features cited by online shoppers.
Whether the consumer truly understands the term or not, omnichannel is a basic expectation withtoday’s online and offline shoppers. Some call it the “Amazon effect,” but basically, omnichannel streamlines brand messaging and communications, ensuring a seamless shopping and customer service interaction from end-to-end. This means that no matter how they connect with the store, whether it’s by phone, on the website, by email, or face to face with a customer service rep, they will know exactly what to expect every time.
3. Loyalty programs
Retail stores that offer loyalty programs are doing so to give their most valuable customers—the ones that come back again and again—extra incentive to shop at their store. Retailers love loyalty programs because it gives them valuable insight into their customer’s shopping behaviors and helps them improve what they do. Customers love it for more practical reasons, such as discounts, sale alerts, and special offers that they can’t get anywhere else.
4. Mobile checkout
Mobile checkout comes in many forms, from empowering sales representatives with handheld payment terminals to self-checkout, to eliminating the checkout altogether, as we have seen in Amazon Go stores where customers can literally grab what they want and go. Standing in a long line can be frustrating, especially at holiday time when stores are jammed. Having the option to check out and pay from anywhere from a self-serve kiosk or another mobile option leaves a positive impression that lingers.
In conclusion, these are just a few of the technological trends in retail that are front and center for the consumer. While there are multitudes of more in-depth, complex tech solutions that elevate the shopping experience, retailers don’t have to look too far or invest millions to find ways to delight their audience.