How Technology is Shaping the Retail Landscape
If recent years have taught us anything, it’s that retailers will have to continue to innovate technologically to remain competitive and attract customers. Advances in technology are steadily shifting the entirety of the shopping experience, but retailers must choose wisely when deciding which strategies to implement.
A recent consumer survey reveals that there are some technologies, facial recognition to be specific, that consumers find too intrusive and uncomfortable. Perhaps the biggest revelation, however, is the fact that more and more, mobile devices are playing a role in how people shop. We’ve talked in the past about how mobile phones were being implemented in online shopping, but now the mobile phone is being tied to the in-store experience as well. Just what are some of the evolving methods in use today?
Social Networks – It’s no secret that people love using their mobile devices to access social media, and spending time cruising services like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest is a favorite pastime for younger consumers in particular. That’s why retailers have been making efforts to do more than just advertising their goods on social networks. Many have been exploring methods for letting customers buy products directly from their social media interfaces.The goal is to reduce the number of steps between a customer seeing something they like and being able to get it. Ease-of-access, the reasoning goes, reduces inhibitions to making a particular purchase, encouraging users to shop more when they find an attractive option.
Incorporating Online In Store – To build on the interest generated online, retailers have adopted the strategy of prominently featuring items of theirs that have ranked high on social media and review sites, and directing consumers towards them while in store. By coupling this positive online feedback, they can better call attention to favorite items and help customers make well-educated decisions about particular purchases.
Retail Apps – To foster a greater sense of community and loyalty to the retail brand, many retailers are investing in mobile apps that can help tie a customer to the store in unique ways. They can save favorite items, find store locations, accumulate reward points, and compare purchases with friends. More advanced programs can even recommend products to consumers based on past purchases, and help predict what sort of items they’ll be likely to need in the future, creating personalized suggestions based on that data. Customers also have the ability to link their social media profiles to some of these retail apps, allowing them to “share” what they’ve bought among their social circles.
Mobile Coupons – Everyone loves feeling like they’ve found a bargain. Parlaying on the retail apps, stores are offering more mobile coupons to customers, even as they are in-store doing their shopping. This rather handy method can help consumers feel more comfortable with a brand, as they feel the retailer is fair by keeping them in the loop on sales and promotions.
Free Wi-Fi – To better facilitate the use of mobile devices while customers are in store, many retailers have begun looking to options for secure public Wi-Fi networks that would allow customers to use their phones and tablets better while shopping. In addition to aiding the customer, retailers can also stay connected to consumers while they are on the in-store network, sending them alerts and gaining information about their movements around the store.
Mobile Points Of Sale – Mobile technology isn’t exclusively in the hands of consumers. Retailers are also are getting in on the trends and increasing convenience through mobile points of sale, much like the POS system from Retail Management Solutions. Devices like these provide a high level of functionality and versatility: facilitating customer sales needn’t be confined to a cash register and checking information can be done on the fly in the middle of the store.
What can we expect to see more of in the future? Continued digital growth and more focus on incorporating technology into the whole of the consumer experience. Whatever forms the next wave of innovations takes, it will likely be marked by retailers experimenting with and incorporating an ever expanding array of emergent technologies to both in-store and online. This will distinguish themselves from competition and add increased value to their brands in the eyes of potential customers.