Sep 06 2017

How Retailers Can Use Tech to Stand Out from the Competition

Retail associates need to be empowered via technology to enhance the customer experience.

Technology is revolutionizing the retail and hospitality industries. Empowered, tech-savvy customers are leading the way as they demand a rapid, personalized, seamless and satisfying experience no matter which retail channel they choose. At the hub of that multichannel retail experience is the store or physical location.

As a result, retail associates are more critical than ever in delivering a satisfying experience to customers. But they need the right technology and tools to do their job in this increasingly competitive marketplace.

From radio-frequency ID tags, beacons, tablets and devices to digital signage, software and Wi-Fi, these technologies will drastically transform the way retail associates work.

Opportunities abound in this new retail environment, but there are four key areas to develop that can help retailers gain a competitive edge: enhancing the in-store experience, delivering on the omnichannel experience, offering customer personalization and enabling faster retailing. Integral to the success of these opportunities are retail associates and the technology that will help transform the way they work.

Enhance the In-Store Experience

Today, the in-store experience often begins in another channel, online. A customer may find just the right shirt on the company website, search for its availability at a nearby store, then travel to the store to see it and try it on. Once he steps in the door, however, his experience is transformed. An associate greets him at the door and leads him to a reserved dressing room with a shirt in his size ready to try on.

Another customer is browsing, but the associate entices her to make a purchase by pointing out a shirt that matches the pants she purchased last week, or a hot new item the customer will love based on her preferences and past purchases.

The sales associate quickly provides in-depth product knowledge or checks stock availability through any channel, then helps the customer purchase the item via a mobile device, making this shopping experience simple, seamless, rapid and pleasurable.

Deliver on Customers' Omnichannel Expectations

Empowering associates to deliver in this omnichannel retail environment requires unified connected experiences and interaction between all systems and channels. It is about collaboration and convergence, a blend of solutions — not just a stand-alone mobile point of sale, a mobile app, digital signage, etc.

Retailers embrace the omnichannel concept. Indeed, 73 percent of retailers say omnichannel is important to them, and 38 percent say they are past the beginning stages of their omnichannel journey, according to a report from Forbes Insights and Synchrony Financial.

The omnichannel experience is founded on an interactive relationship that takes place digitally over email, mobile, text, mobile app and web, including social networks. Consistency across these channels is critical. Customers must get the same answer to a question — and quickly — whether they ask it in a store, on the phone, interacting via a web chat session or in an email.

Personalize the Shopping Experience

Personalizing the in-store experience so that it is uniquely suited to each individual customer has never been more important, or easier. From the moment customers enter the store, associates will be able to track their activity and engage each of them in a personalized way. Stores will know how long they stood in front of a display, if they picked up any items and if so, how long they handled them. The analytics from these observations will then be immediately put into action to trigger a mobile discount offer for the purchase.

Associates can access a customer’s digital shopping history, point-of-sale information, in-store foot traffic and buying trends to create a more complete view of the customer. They can tap individualized actionable insights so they can drive revenue by uncovering new cross-sell opportunities, capitalize on emerging trends and target customers for new product launches, all while helping the store make inventory planning faster and easier.

Almost four in five customers (79 percent) like receiving complementary product offers or promotions based on their purchasing history, indicating a desire for more personalized experiences, according to a Salesforce survey.

Personalized messages and advertisements can be triggered on in-store signage or a special mobile notification with a coupon can be sent to customers’ personal mobile devices.

Enable Faster Retailing with IoT

The Internet of Things is about the connection of every aspect of the retail footprint, delivering insight-rich streams of sensor-generated data, unifying every channel from the supply and distribution channels to the customer contact center and everything in between to rapidly and seamlessly serve the customer, no matter what retail channel they choose.

Location-based beacon technology can connect with shoppers’ smartphones while they’re in the store. Combined with a custom mobile app, this technology allows associates to push personalized marketing messages and promotional offers to customers at the right time and in the right place. Stores can track customers’ paths through the aisles, helping associates improve layout and more strategically place merchandise. IoT systems can also help retailers track inventory, reducing the incidence of out-of-stock items in stores —every action taking place in real time

To learn more about the technologies that can help retailers stand out, download CDW’s e-book.

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