By Sandra Wrobel-Konior for Business2Community
Technology is changing the way most industries do business, and retail is no exception to the ever-evolving advancements. Although some are afraid technology may be hurting the retail industry by moving everything online.
If you take a more in-depth look into the situation, you’ll see that tech is actually helping retail stores to grow and expand their expertise. There’s a number of new technology systems that are being implemented, and are worth consideration to remain a top competitor in the heavily competitive retail market.
Connecting with your shopper
According to a study conducted by CMO, 54 percent of retailers put customer experience in the number one slot on their priority list.
Beacon technology made its presence felt in the retail industry in 2017 for this reason. They are small devices placed at the front of the store and throughout to allow interaction with customers as soon as they walk through the door. They connect and send a signal to a customer’s Bluetooth capable device, and send highly accurate, relevant information and in-store offers in real-time to create a greater personal shopping experience for the customer.
A study done by Swirl states that 70% of shoppers who received beacon-related content on their phones agreed it increased their likelihood of making a purchase, showing impressive sales results for companies. These small devices are similar to online shopping apps, which allow customers to digitally connect to in-store deals conveniently from their mobile device to plan their shopping experience around real-time in-store offers as they shop.
The online consumer is looking for a great deal just as much as the in-store consumer, and it’s important to provide both with a superior experience.
Retailers also often turn to online checkout tools to help streamline the online shopping experience for consumers. With online shopping becoming the main avenue for all forms of shopping, it’s important for merchants to have a safe and secure checkout system for their online customers.
Modern systems create an efficient transaction process done entirely on the product page. It is hassle-free and user-friendly (recognising various languages), and does not push customers to a third-party site or payment service.
This approach also makes it convenient for consumers to order right from their mobile devices and provides a higher level of security; an important feature in the digital age.
Sensing your customer
74 percent of firms want their operations to be data-driven, but seldom follow through, with only 29 percent applying analytics to their internal processes. If implemented properly, consumer analytics tools could improve this statistic. They prove to be a major asset for merchants to track customer behaviours and better understand relevant trends.
These tools use a sensor that recognises and tracks the number of customers that come into a store, and narrows that data by month, week, or day to give a short-term insight into foot-traffic.
Other kinds of technology within the realm of these complex tools include the ability to track online orders to measure which items are in demand, and which items can be eliminated from the stores’ stock costs. By 2021, 85 percent of retailers plan to use intelligent automation like this to further improve their supply chain plan and eliminate increased costs.
Keeping it together with tech-driven organisational tools
The Internet of Things (IoT) has created an important opportunity for retailers to integrate a major type of technology into their operational strategy. All smart devices are connected thanks to the IoT, so the integration of the online retail shopping experience is a viable strategy for companies to capitalise on a broad connection to consumers.
For example, the IoT enables a shopper to scan or search for a product to be connected to the detailed information provided by the merchant about that product. The consumer then has access to relevant reviews and feedback for the specific product to help make more informed buying decisions.
In the long run, this helps increase sales and consumer retention, by providing shoppers with helpful services and information, thereby improving their buying experience.
Tech-driven internal organisational tools also make an impact on customer experience by starting at the source and improving internal retailer functions. Resource planning cloud systems that automate manual tasks help companies zero in on the strategic initiatives that propel the business forward. They also organise financial operations and leverage real-time consumer-related data for insights that improve decision-making and performance management.
Having strong internal operations rely heavily on tech-driven tools to meet customer demands and remain future-proof, especially in the modern digital age.
Depending on the type of store you operate, different technological tools may be more worthwhile than others. What matters is establishing a brand that customers can connect with.
In this day and age of social media and the internet, simple tech-driven strategies can help consumers to feel connected to a brand online, prolonging company success.
Below is a summary of what we covered and how technology plays a role in retail:
- Customer experience should always be a top priority in the retail space.
- Technology-driven tools improve buyer experience and increase efficiency.
- Technological advancements in retail are lucrative to future growth in the digital age.
- Internal operations need to be streamlined in order to reflect positively on customer experience.
- The utilization of consumer data can have a major impact on a company’s success.
- Consumer data-driven strategies rely on tech tools to ensure relevance and accuracy before the implementation of new strategies.