Feb 11 2016

Technology and Customer Service Drive Retail Success

Retail innovations and prompt service will help stores meet shoppers’ increasing customer-service demands.

Despite fears to the contrary, brick-and-mortar stores aren’t going anywhere.

According to TimeTrade’s newly released State of Retail 2016 report, 72 percent of consumers plan to shop in stores at least as much as they did in 2015, and 18 percent believe they’ll visit stores more frequently than they did last year.

Those findings put added pressure on retailers to create an in-store shopping experience that meets consumers’ expectations, especially when it comes to customer service. After all, 54 percent of consumers surveyed said they put the highest value on prompt service when shopping in a retail store. Another 30 percent value a personalized shopping experience.

In response to those figures, the TimeTrade report warns retailers not to overlook the importance of interactions between customer and salesperson:

Not just retailers, but all companies should take these data points as a sounding bell, that despite all devices and apps that consumers use today, the way they gauge their customer experience is by their quality of help. If organizations today do not offer immediate help, the result may be a lost sale and perhaps a loss in brand loyalty.

According to the white paper Driving Retail Success With Technology Innovation, mobile point-of-sale (POS) technology is one way to improve the customer experience, putting more salespeople on the floor to assist shoppers. Mobile POS systems also enable line-busting to make shopping in-store even more convenient.

The State of Retail report indicates that retailers recognize the value of POS technology. When asked about the top three technology investments they budgeted for this year, 65 percent of senior-level decision-makers named POS systems.

Beacon technology, which uses Bluetooth low-energy technology to transmit signals to and from mobile apps, was an investment priority for only 6 percent of retailers. That figure is at odds with consumers’ preferences: The report states that 44 percent of shoppers don’t mind beacons if they benefit customers.

Retailers may be more willing to experiment with beacon technology once it has matured, but much will happen in the meantime.

“There is no doubt that 2016 will be an exciting year for retail as more and more solutions and technologies will be used in stores, and consumer behavior will continue to change,” the State of Retail report notes. “It is just a matter of the retailers’ ability to keep up with the evolution while providing a superior customer experience.”