Retail has experienced a technological revolution over the past two decades. From iPad sales apps, to self-service kiosks, shopping at a brick and mortar store is easier than ever. Here are the top tech trends in the 21st century.
Many retailers are hanging on to outdated equipment like bulky scanners and walkie-talkies. These tools are an eyesore and give employees limited access to the information they require. For a more modern look and feel, invest in tablets and smartphone-style devices. These empower employees to quickly access product and inventory communication.
Restoration Hardware and the W Hotel Seattle ditched outdated two-way radios and old cell phones for modern tablets and smart devices. These have a contemporary appearance and allow employees to better serve customers by running mobile applications.
Retail businesses take advantage of the latest apps to improve workforce productivity and customer satisfaction. Communication apps enable teams to communicate in realtime on devices from iPads to network radios. They show which team members are online, save messages, and track location. With these features, employees collaborate with the touch of a button no matter where they are.
With push-to-talk apps, your employees easily ask questions of colleagues, check stock, and get help without leaving their post. This makes them more efficient and connects coworkers to improve workplace morale. With a centralized admin console, these apps are completely customizable to the needs of your store. Best of all, they have unlimited range so distance is no problem.
Beacons are in-store wireless devices that send Bluetooth signals to nearby smartphones. They provide special deals and information to brick-and-mortar shoppers (i.e. "proximity marketing"). Beacon technology bridges the disconnect between online shopping and physical stores by giving customers a personalized experience. Proximity marketing also gives customers incentives to visit brick-and-mortar stores in lieu of shopping online.
Retailers learn so much by tracking shopping habits and preferences via their apps. Insightful customer data like when certain demographics are most likely to shop and what types of items shoppers purchase together help retailers meet sales goals. Beacon technology drives additional sales through real-time product suggestions. For example, as a customer browses the cereal aisle, a beacon prompts them to purchase a gallon of milk by pinging their phone with a coupon. Beacons paired with store-specific apps transform the brick-and-mortar shopping experience and increase brand loyalty.
There’s no question that consumers appreciate saving time by shopping online. Retailers use self-service technology so customers save additional time when they visit physical stores. For example, barcode-scanning kiosks let shoppers quickly figure out prices without having to track down a sales associate. Web ordering kiosks boost sales by enabling shoppers to order out-of-stock items in store without shipping fees. Self-service registers have become ubiquitous in most grocery stores.
Offering self-service options improves customer satisfaction. Sometimes, these innovations can even reduce costs for businesses. As this trend moves forward, additional retail technologies will come in to the mainstream. This will include combining RFID technology and mobile payment apps so that customers can forgo the checkout line for good. GPS technologies will also help shoppers locate items on their own, without having the help of a store employee. Self-service will free employees from more mundane tasks and let them serve as product experts, advising customers and providing value-added guidance on purchases.
Retailers must ensure that their online and brick-and-mortar channels are aligned. Consumers are choosing “brick and click” shopping experiences more frequently, so shops must offer a seamless and consistent experience across both mediums. Customer loyalty grows for brands that have customers who shop with them both online and in person.
The biggest value of omnichannel sales for shoppers is the ability to combine their preferred product research method with their favored delivery channel. Most often, that means marrying the convenience of shopping online and the immediacy of brick-and-mortar shopping with in-store pickup options. Many customers also appreciate saving on shipping costs. For some purchases, customers may prefer to visit a store to touch and feel a product before purchasing online. As a result, showroom-type stores are popping up more frequently, typically for larger-ticket items like exercise equipment and furniture.
Resolve to provide your customers with the best service in 2019 by investing in new technologies. Happy customers make more purchases and show loyalty to brands that care about their shopping experience. Furthermore, many of these technologies can improve workplace efficiency and productivity, resulting in better margins and more committed employees.