From industry analysts to the general public, some people have been speculating for years that the traditional brick-and-mortar way of shopping is dying out. Malls are no longer the place to be, and physical retail stores are seemingly growing emptier. Meanwhile, shopping online continues to expand.
However, this is a misconception. Customer interactions with retailers are not falling away – they are transforming. The US Bureau of Economic Analysis has shared that customer spending has only continued to grow, jumping by 10% since last year.
There are many ways to meet with the consumer’s modern needs and continue to cultivate a relationship with them that will benefit both parties. Let’s look at five options for improving your customer’s experience by adopting retail technology:
Embrace the Hybrid Shopping Experience
Many customers are evolving their expectations to prefer a hybrid experience, meaning they will practice shopping physically in a store as well as using online sites to find the product or services they need. As a brand, you can embrace this practice by creating a simple, seamless process for your customers.
To support this from a software standpoint, consider platforms that offer omnichannel order fulfillment. Always have the customer’s size in stock by selling inventory from any location. Route orders efficiently to reduce fulfillment time and cost while improving customer satisfaction. ISAIA is a 100-year-old global luxury brand from Italy that utilizes this approach with an omnichannel platform that connects customer preferences, their products, and all possible customer touchpoints across all channels – from warehouse to showroom and everything in between. Not only do ISAIA’s stores now have endless aisle capabilities, but they can presell products before they are available on the website. New collections are merchandised, onboarded and published across all channels in minutes thanks to customer-aware omnichannel.
Enable Checkout From Anywhere
Allowing customers to shop on their own time, in their own way, will popularize your in-store locations. In a shopping culture that is increasingly prioritizing time savings and seamless experiences, consumers are looking to purchase without having to accept assistance from workers or linger in long lines.
This can be more than adding more of the typical scan-and-go checkout lines, though. Growing technology is allowing consumers to purchase items by scanning items as they shop, so they never even have to wait in line.
There are a few reasons why an omnichannel retail platform meets this need, including:
- Data capture that allows the retailer to make better-informed decisions. The more shoppers use the technology, the more in-tune retailers are with their buying habits.
- Inventory optimization that ensures retailers have exactly what the customer wants at the exact moment that they are browsing channels.
- AI and machine learning that anticipates the needs of the customer and personalizes their shopping experience.
- Order routing across locations to ensure retail locations are never out of stock.
Mobile point of sale (POS) technology is also very popular. With it, sales associates can help customers check out and pay from anywhere in the store, including outside if they’ve chosen a buy online, pick up in store (BOPIS) or buy online, ship to store (BOSS) shopping experience and didn’t pay online.
Allow Employees to Interact with Self-training
Equipping in-store employees with smartphones or tablets that allow them access to interactive training will allow them to continuously improve their knowledge of products and interaction with customers. The more product knowledge they have at their fingertips, the better they can answer customer questions about product materials, construction and even sustainability in the production process. Using the right technology can also allow employees to keep note in real time about which products are most popular with customers.
Improve the Shopping Experience with Tech
The process of shopping can now be improved with exciting, innovative technologies that will allow customers to make better decisions for themselves. One example of this is fitting rooms equipped with touch-screen mirrors that also use radio-frequency identification to know the products and sizes a customer has brought into the room. These technologies have been shown to bring customers into your store and to keep coming back.
Consistency of experience is another way to get an edge on the competition and an omnichannel retail platform can help. L’Objet did just that and experienced a 140% YoY growth in online sales, a 34% YoY growth in new customers and a 77% YoY increase in customer wallet share.
This occurred for a few reasons:
- Omnichannel provided a flexible and scalable solution to meet holiday demands, including a pop-up shop that contributed to a 200% boost in sales for the season.
- A personalized shopping experience that contributed to a 30% YoY increase in sales.
- A single source of information to enable a consistent customer experience whether they’re in the Middle East or UK.
Technology is allowing for a new wave of experiences within the retail community – for much more robust experiences than purely online commerce. It is up to retailers to embrace this change and meet the customer’s ever-changing needs and grow alongside them. Adopting retail technology will improve your customers’ experiences, provide your employees with better knowledge, and keep your store and your consumers safe.