Technology has found its way into the retail industry and has revolutionized many aspects of the retail process. Whether it’s offering a streamlined sales system, creating digital coupons, or just informing customers via an interactive kiosk, technology is one of the best weapons in driving growth. Store operators have a great opportunity to use retail technology investments to improve same-store growth.
Retail Technology Investments Improve the Customer Experience
Retailers in nearly any product category can utilize technology to enhance a customer’s in-store experience and at the same time, improve store sales. Gen Z, shoppers born in the year 1995, are forecast to become the largest consumer base in the world. Today’s retail experts are looking at ways to meet the demand of this technology-savvy shopper. This generation wants stores’ technology to offer a meaningful and useful experience, and one of the best ways to meet that need is to focus on technology that informs consumers.
Gen Z has grown up with technology and uses it throughout their purchase decisions, whether it’s for researching a product’s features, looking up reviews, or checking out in-store. Of course, it’s not just Gen Z who wants technology in stores, either, it’s a global need from consumers. The 2018 Global Path to Purchase Survey featured 62% of respondents answering they used self-service kiosks in stores and moreover, 52.8% said they actively looked for stores which utilized tablets or mobile-armed associates.
Technological investments in interactive kiosks and order stations can improve same-store sales, especially if your customers are customizing their order, i.e in a convenience store or grocery store. Self-service kiosks are powerful upsellers and can display the information about the products handily, meaning the store doesn’t have to solely rely on sales skills of a cashier or staff associate. The customer can see all of the add-on options that may be available for their order and even respond to purchase suggestions. When Chili’s installed more than 45,000 table tablets in their restaurants they saw a 20% increase in dessert sales, with the same increase in appetizers as well — largely driven by the appetizing images shown to consumers on the screens. These kiosks aren’t just handy for convenience stores or restaurants either, as stores like Bloomingdales and New York & Company offer kiosks for customer use.
Machine learning and AI is another route many retailers are taking to get in-store issues under control and to create a better customer experience through retail technology investments. For example, CB4’s clients who leverage our software see an increase in same-store growth between 0.8-3%. This lift comes from CB4’s patented machine learning algorithms, which detect in-store operational issues affecting items with high local demand. By correcting these issues, customers are more easily finding what they’re looking for, and retail teams are able to concentrate their efforts on the items that matter most to their local shoppers. Take a look at some of our clients’ success stories by downloading our case studies.
Augmented Reality (AR) is growing in popularity across retailers and consumers are becoming accustomed to this exciting technology. AR gives retailers the power to create a unique experience with their products for the consumer, whether it’s through an app or even a smart mirror. AR technology let Timbaland customers virtually try on shoes, and now even Amazon is getting with the program, with plans to have an AR dressing room. AR doesn’t stop at clothing and has been used to display exclusive offers, features, and details. Just look at LEGO who leveraged AR in 2010 to show shoppers a completed 3D LEGO project when they put it underneath the LEGO “Digital Boxes.” LEGO’s Digital Boxes are used to drive excitement about holding the completed LEGO set in their hands with an AR preview.
Connect with Customers
Connecting with consumers and personalizing the message is another valuable feature technology investments can offer. Bluetooth beacons can communicate with a shopper’s smartphone and if the customer has the store’s app, the smartphone can display a greeting or offer from the retailer in-store. The customer can then act on the offer right when they’re in-store and the opportunity is convenient, especially compared to receiving an offer via email and having to travel to the store at a later time. Beacons will simplify the customer’s journey and influence consumer behavior: a survey showed 60% of shoppers engaged in a retailer’s beacon-supported content, and 73% of shoppers said beacon content and offers increased their likelihood to purchase. Finally, 61% of respondents said that they would visit a store with beacon campaigns more often.
It’s not just the customer who can connect thanks to beacons, however, as sales associates can be informed via a beacon when an app-owning customer comes in the store. If the app is attached to the loyalty program, then the sales associate may be able to greet the customer personally. The data yielded during the beacon action also provides a great look into customer preferences, sizes or past purchases. Just one more way retail technology investments improve the in-store experience.
Convert Browsers to Buyers
According to the National Retail Federation, as many as 83% of consumers showroom, i.e. enter a retail store to see items in person and assess their quality. The showroom gives the retailer an advantage over online shopping. However, customers are still more likely to then make purchases online, due to pricing and convenience. Investments into mobile POS systems help convert showrooming customers to retail shoppers. A common complaint is that lines are too long, and some people even abandon their purchase because of long lines. An associate armed with a mobile POS can eliminate the wait time, allowing the customer to efficiently make their purchase. Retailers can integrate their loyalty programs with Mobile POS and options like beacons, giving the consumer options that make the purchase more attractive than what they found online. Offering instant rewards points, cash back, free gifts or other discount opportunities can convert the browsing customer into a sale using technology.
It used to be the idea of technology influencing buying behavior and improving the customer experience was something out of The Jetsons, but today’s retailer has a world of technology at their fingerprints. By outfitting all of your stores with retail technology investments, you can give consumers the information, experience and personalization they need to make a purchase to boost sales.
To learn more about CB4’s software for retail operations teams, head over to our content library, where you can download product overviews, technical overviews, and a few success stories from our clients.