By now, most major brands are already testing new in-store technologies able to upgrade the retail experience. Some companies are more aggressive than others. But the overall industry trends indicate that the presence of technology in brick-and-mortar retail chains figures to grow by leaps and bounds, and soon.
Retailers are growing more comfortable with the technology, and those new innovations are maturing and multiplying. The goal is providing reliable, effective means of infusing physical shopping with an experience online shopping can’t offer. Most importantly, consumers are eager to embrace the change: As smart technology builds better stores, shoppers are more willing to ditch the computer, put on pants and visit their local retail location.
Every technology has its own path and timeline to entering the retail mainstream. But these four solutions offer considerable upside, including the potential to transform in-store retail forever.
Self-checkout is nothing new in retail stores. The new wrinkle on the horizon: Shoppers will soon be able to complete a transaction with their own smartphone.
Retailers have several reasons to be reluctant about adopting this technology, given that it hasn’t been tested on a live retail floor, but some brands are eager to bring it into their stores. Digital Trends reports that Diebold has introduced a self-checkout concept that it wants to deploy at its brick-and-mortar stores. Consumers would scan items with their phone as they pick them up throughout the store, and then quickly complete the payment at a self-checkout unit when done.
How quickly others embrace the technology may depend on how well it serves early adopters. But regardless of the timeline, this in-store technology looks inevitable.
Poorly stocked shelves can cost a retailer up to four percent of its annual revenue. The solution: Smart shelves that can flag low inventory and even detect theft. As Business Insider notes, smart-shelf technology can also cut down tremendously on maintenance — employees won’t have to monitor shelves as closely, inventory can be counted with greater ease, and prices can be adjusted automatically.
Those significant benefits are why major brands including Walgreens, Whole Foods and Kroger are outfitting their stores with smart shelves.
Mobile App Integration
Retail mobile apps have plenty of applications within a physical store, and brands are still working to discover all these potential uses. At the most basic level, a mobile app can help supplement the shopping experience by providing information on products, delivering store-specific floor maps, and deliver and manage promotions and coupons offered to the consumer.
To optimize the performance of these apps, retailers will want their stores outfitted with a strong Wi-Fi network. And, as Retail TouchPoints notes, it’s smart to train associates on the brand’s mobile app, so that they can provide assistance and better supplement app-wielding shoppers.
The role of the sales associate faces a lot of competition from the Internet. Compared to online reviews, expert recommendations, and other product information, a growing segment of consumers simply don’t see sales associates as offering any value. Their knowledge, they reason, is not as strong as what they would find online. So why approach them in the first place?
Assisted selling solutions are designed as a multi-faceted approach to that problem. The platforms, built on mobile devices, are placed in the hands of sales associates on the floor, providing them easy access to inventories, customer service tools, point-of-sale capabilities, and other information to supplement the in-store experience. With this information, associates can be more proactive, and more efficient, in their sales efforts.
Consumers will learn to appreciate the speed and ease of using associates as resources. Research indicates shoppers are 39 percent more likely to approach a sales associate equipped with a mobile device. The problem isn’t the information online — it’s finding the right tools to apply that data inside the store.
Brick-and-mortar shops face continued competition from digital sales channels, but a blended experience that wields technology in the physical world can build a new way of shopping — one that consumers won’t be able to ignore.
To learn more about transforming the in-store experience, check out our in-store selling platform, Concierge.
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