Smartphones completely change the way that customers shop. According to Forrester, a research firm that tracks user behavior, 68% of customers will use their mobile device while in a store. Despite this, most retailers are just now starting to build their digital experiences.
Companies waiting for the technology to mature risk being left behind by their forward thinking competitors as consumers already show a distinct preference for stores that already feature in-store technology. Among luxury apparel customers a surprising 66% surveyed said that they are more likely to shop with an associate using modern technology than they are with one in a traditional environment
2015: The Year Of The Digital Platform
Forrester predicts that the coming year will be one when retailers start to realize the advantages a real-time digital environment will present to their customers. This system will integrate their in-store point of sale and inventory systems with their online counterparts, helping the company gain a clearer picture of customer patterns. While most digital systems are in their infancy, failing to provide a meaningful ROI, companies will invest significant capital over the coming year in maturing these systems into something that is valuable for both their employees and clients.
Retail technology implementations will be as unique as the stores using them, but beacons and mobile point of sale systems should see widespread adoption.
Beacons are small, often battery powered devices that interact with customer devices who use their devices nearby. These can present shoppers with up discount codes, additional information, or even allow them to browse what additional sizes/colors are available for that item in the backroom as well as online.
A client could also use their phone to call for assistance, alerting an associate’s device. The notification could include the nearest beacons, which allows the customer to shop without being forced to stand by a terminal. In fact,the app could even allow shoppers to send specific requests, such as checking the backroom for additional inventory, allowing the employee to fetch that item from the backroom before meeting the customer on the sales floor.
Mobile Point Of Sale
Mobile point of sale (MPOS) systems will allow stores to reduce congestion at their registers while helping to streamline the checkout process for their customers. Big Box retailers such as Wal-Mart and Target are even experimenting allowing customers to use their own smartphones as a self checkout option.
When the shoppers download the checkout application, they can scan each item and their phone keeps a running total, including tax and coupons, for their order. At the register, the customer would just hit the checkout button and then the cashier would scan the bar code displayed on the device, significantly reducing the amount of time that client would have to wait in line.
For stores who wish to take a more conservative approach, Apple already utilizes a completely mobile point of sale system, using corporate iPhones as registers. A similar system could be implemented at most retail locations, allowing associates to easy process transactions from anywhere on the sales floor.
2016 Will Likely Be Too Late
These new technologies will likely be unfamiliar to most business owners, but their competitive potential is already one too big to ignore. Digital platforms and devices that take advantage of shoppers smartphones will make your customers experience faster and less frustrating. New “smart watches” and other wearables designed by an expert of that particular industry will only accelerate this trend.
The months following the holiday shopping season is often the time when companies regroup and implement new routines among their staff. This “seasonal slump” is also the perfect time to research how you can implement new technologies into your existing systems. Technology is constantly evolving, and those companies that adapt best to it are also often the ones that adopt early.