Biggest Opportunities for Retail Stores in the Digital AgePosted by Kush Khandelwal on September 10, 2013
Think back, to a not so long time ago, when shoppers compared prices by consulting the latest weekly circular ads or pounding the pavement. That all seems like a distant memory compared to the shopping experience the modern customer expects.
Technology is reinventing the way we act, think and shop. Customers are adapting quickly. Retailers canâ€™t afford to sit idly by and try to catch up later. Now is the time to be aggressive and proactive, adopting technology that can transform your customer experience in a big way to drive sales.
In the age of big data, technology makes it possible to accurately process large and varied volumes of data to make real-time decisions in an instant. These analytics can drive top-line and bottom-line growth, especially for small to medium sized retailers.
Digital POS systems have streamlined managing inventory, customer loyalty, analytics and processing sales. Some systems, like Lightspeed POS and Vend POS, can be accessed by computer or tablet. Retailers can literally run their business, with ease, from an iPad.
According to a RSR Research study, 87% of retailers see value in smartphonesâ€™ ability to drive consumers into their stores. Some retailers are choosing to size down physical locations and focus on online sales. Thatâ€™s a big mistake. Successful retailers utilizing technology are doubling down on physical locations and embracing a cross-channel selling strategy.
There are limits to what online-only retailers can accomplish when customers canâ€™t view the physical product before purchase or have the option to return without shipping hassles. Customers want options. Donâ€™t underestimate how heavily customers weigh these type of options in purchasing decisions. The customer wants a universal experience through online, mobile and in-store.
Self-Service, Interactive Possibilities
52% of global consumers prefer self-checkout stations if they can avoid waiting in line to make a purchase. These days, everyone expects immediate gratification. We can blame the Internet and social media for that. Customers would rather do something quickly themselves than wait for service.
Leverage what you know is working online. Offer customers a self-service mobile experience that fuses the convenient features of the online shopping experience with the benefits of shopping in a physical store. Employing a mobile app can solve a lot of customer and retailer challenges. Retailers want to encourage customers not to use their stores as showrooms and customers donâ€™t want to put down their mobile devices or wait in long lines. If your customers are using your mobile app throughout their in-store shopping experience to add products to a wishlist, find out more product information or check themselves out by paying with their phones, itâ€™s likely theyâ€™re not surfing your competitorâ€™s mobile site. 48% of retailers already realize the need to bring more of the digital/online experience to stores and are making that a top priority this year.
As RSR Research put it, “Now is not the time for sitting on hands. The customer is already well ahead in the race, and it is well advised to be aggressively pursuing pilot programs that bring more of the digital experience into at minimum, a few test stores.” It’s in your hands.
Offering interactive digital features in-store will help you differentiate your brand in diverse and competitive markets. Itâ€™s so important to act now on implementing a digital experience in-store. Donâ€™t wait to hop on the bandwagon when in-store technology integration is the industry standard, and everyoneâ€™s doing it. Be the brand that went there first in your market. Customer loyalty is up for grabs if you want it.
Keeping tabs on your competitors and adapting quickly to remain competitive has never been easier than it is right now. Retailers are embracing technologies that allow them to make rapid-fire price changes on an hourly or even minute-by-minute basis.
Big data has really opened doors and offered new insight into customers. Real-time analytics can help you see a side of the shopping experience brick and mortar retailers havenâ€™t been privy to until the Digital Age. Retailers can make bold decisions to improve the customer experience, supported by real statistics.
The opportunities retailers have in the digital age depend on vision. Thereâ€™s no time to waste. Big brands like Walmart and Starbucks have already realized mobileâ€™s potential and have implemented mobile programs, but for small to mid-sized retailers you have a chance to trailblaze amongst your competitors and distinguish yourself with customers.