Executive Chronicles | 5 Digital Technologies to Support and Improve Your Retail Store | Without a doubt, the retail sector is one of the most competitive industries out there. No matter what retail category your business fits into, developing a sustainable competitive advantage is crucial to building brand loyalty that helps you stay ahead of the competition.
These days, a great product is not enough to get customers through your door. You need to tap into technology-enabled solutions. Tools like RFID monitoring systems and dynamic pricing help provide brands with new opportunities to acquire new customers while better engaging with their target audience.
The need for digital transformation
With customers now having more options than ever before, brands need to better tailor the shopping experience to the individual consumer’s needs. Technological improvements and data-driven tools help brands adopt solutions that fulfill customer expectations.
By blending physical and digital experiences, retail businesses are able to compete in a retail landscape that includes not only retailers with a digital presence but also digital-native competitors.
The use of data will also be necessary to improve customer acquisition strategies. With shoppers having a more robust natural appetite for a personalized experience, a data-driven approach to retail will enable your business to deliver a customer-centered shopping experience.
The uncertainties of COVID-19 have also accelerated the need for digital retail solutions. Leveraging data and technological tools allows businesses to continue providing a safe shopping experience while making customers feel safe, and workers, protected.
And while consumer behavior is seeing a shift towards e-commerce, today’s shopper still has an overwhelming preference for browsing in a brick-and-mortar store. To help satisfy that need, here are five key digital technologies that will help your business present a better in-store shopping experience.
1. RFID technology
An RFID retail system helps your organization operate more efficiently while providing a more engaging and interactive shopping experience.
On the business side, RFID technology allows brands to track their inventory more accurately.
Studies have shown that by using RFID, retailers were able to see a 5.5% improvement in sales. What’s more, RFID has been proven to improve inventory accuracy by up to 99%. That’s a far cry from the 60% average found in retail stores that manually manage inventory.
For consumers, RFID can be used with other digital technologies to provide a higher level of personalization.
Neiman Marcus, for example, uses RFID tags with interactive mirrors to allow customers to add virtual accessories and sync up inventory availability. By tapping a button, a customer can quickly request a new size or a different style altogether.
Many tech companies offer different RFID solutions for retail stores. RFID solutions, such as RFID tagging and scanning for asset access control, can help enhance asset visibility. Tech companies highly recommend ultra-high-frequency tags and printable UHF RFID labels for retail items like consumables, and environments like inventory warehousing.
2. Footfall counting systems
Achieving real-time insight into the number of visitors in your store can help boost conversions and enhance the in-store experience. With intelligence provided by footfall counting systems, your business is able to better identify factors that result in retail success.
Measuring a retail store’s footfall of customers determines how many people pass by on any given day, estimating potential lost opportunities. People counting systems calculate the retail store’s conversion rate and enable business owners and managers to assign staff members for low and peak hours.
Integrating retail analytics with point-of-sale data ensures you gain access to real-time conversion rates. This technology helps predict and boost retail sales.
Footfall counters can also be used to test the effectiveness of in-store marketing initiatives and promotional activities. Staff can also be better allocated to reduce costs and improve customer experience.
Retail traffic counters are a useful tool as well in helping retail stores navigate the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. Being able to enforce occupancy rules and social distancing measures better allows shoppers and employees alike to continue to feel safe and protected.
3. Mobile app programs
With more than half of consumers using smartphones to supplement their in-store shopping experience, mobile devices have become an essential tool for in-person retail.
Brands can tap into the power of smartphones to deliver on a seamless multichannel retail strategy. Retailers like Starbucks and Anthropologie use mobile apps to build brand loyalty and provide a more personalized experience, and they always find the best mobile app development company for their needs.
Starbucks, in particular, offers multiple features through its mobile app to make shopping as effortless as possible. Customers can order and pay through the app, send gift cards to friends and family, and even earn rewards for free beverages and food items.
Mobile app programs for couponing are also available. Retail brands incorporate a couponing section on their store apps or work with dedicated couponing websites to boost their marketing strategies. Shoppers can grab promo codes and redeem them through online or physical retail stores to get discounts on regularly priced purchases.
4. Alternate realities
Augmented and virtual reality technologies are not just fancy digital tools that enrich the customer experience. AR and VR technology can bolster sales by up to 40% and positively influence shopping behavior.
When used with a mobile device, AR technology can transform the store into an attraction. Zara has already used augmented reality to turn window shopping into an interactive fashion show. Such an example can lead to increased customer visits, resulting in more sales.
Interactive mirrors in fitting rooms are another form of AR technology. Augmenting dress shopping with a digital experience enables customers to feel more confident with their purchase. What’s more, richer product interaction can contribute to a deeper emotional connection with your target audience.
Alternate realities attract many young consumers and fascinate older generations. Incorporating AR and VR technologies in retail stores doesn’t only boost traffic and sales. These technologies also help improve business image, making a retail brand stand out above the rest for being digitally savvy and up-to-date with the latest tech trends.
5. Automated checkouts
Checkout queues have long been a concern of retailers. Long lines are not just a nuisance; they can lead to decreased sales and in-store visits as well. Digital technology addresses this burdensome chore with several innovations.
Amazon Go’s checkout system blends several technologies like RFID, computer vision, and deep learning to improve the checkout process. Now instead of waiting in line to pay for items, customers can just pick up their things and leave.
The Amazon Go app automatically processes the payment for the items.
Other retailers have also turned to digital technology to improve their checkout process. Apple has mobile POS systems that allow customers to close transactions with any team member in-store. There is no need to line up at a register as each team member is equipped with a mobile POS.
There are also “scan and go” mobile apps that allow consumers to manage the point-of-sale process personally. Grocery stores predominantly use “scan and go” apps to enable customers to scan their items as they’re added to the cart.
There is no queue to manage as customers pay through the app once they’re done shopping.
Given the diversity of products and brands available in retail, the level of competitiveness can make it difficult for specific brands and businesses to stand out.
Outside of a great product and exceptional customer service, technology can be a differentiating factor for brands looking to rise above the white noise. By tapping into the power of digital transformation, traditional retailers can implement a winning retail and marketing strategy.
Vic Bageria is the Founder and CEO of Sávant Data System LLC, a retail solutions and services provider focused on empowering businesses with progressive technology solutions such as People Counting and In-Store Analytics to improve operational efficiency and profitability (such as provided by Xpandretail powered by Savant). Vic is an award-winning entrepreneur and visionary, with experience in building recurring revenue technology businesses, who has mastered the intersection of technology, consumer marketing, customer behavior and instore insights.