The boundaries between in-store retail and e-commerce are blurring as consumers swap from the physical to the digital to browse, research & purchase products at their whim. Our increasingly tech savvy society is embracing their ability to shop from wherever & whenever they please.
Research suggests that although overall retail sales rose 2.7% last November and December – actual store visits decreased 14.6% pointing to an increased trend of ‘precision shopping’ where buyers compare retailers products online before heading in to one store to buy.
So what is the way forward and how can retailer’s step up to offer a buyer a seamless experience regardless of the channel they choose to use? Let’s look at the way to move forward with the top retail technology changes for 2014;
The rise of the Smartphone
The use of Smartphone’s continue to evolve the way retailers & consumers operate in the retail landscape. In 2014 we will see retailers embrace the opportunity mobile provides to offer targeted and geo-fenced rewards to customers in store and even at aisle level.
Mobile technology will result in Mobile Point of Sale as well as Mobile Point of Service (MPOS )becoming mainstream – affording consumers convenient, fast ways to purchase as well as delivering better customer service on the store floor with the use of mobile devices linked to back office supply chains, alleviating queues as well as creating a limitless store. Wireless, mobile technology means your sales team have access to your entire business system wherever they are in store.
This increased collaborative operational visibility means that retailers using leading POS Inventory management software have comprehensive access to manage their inventory and warehouse planning and can share all information promptly within customer contact and apps.
Mobile contactless payments will be an increasing trend with cloud based mobile payment applications as well as mobile customer’s leveraging the Near Field Communication (NFC) with payment credentials stored on their phone.
Data & Insights – the Science of Retail
Retailers need to capture & utilise the trail of information constantly left by customers shopping online, via their mobile and in store through an efficient & intuitive POS software system. This valuable data on customer preferences & behaviour will give you insight to optimise your retail operations, adjust pricing, select your inventory, anticipate demand and offer personalised marketing promotions.
Colin Haig, SAP retail program principal explains, “by capturing and leveraging relevant information, retailers can tailor the experience to individual customer needs & tastes. Research suggests that the upper half of your customer base will spend up to 50% more with you if they receive a personalised offer.”
The future is in the Cloud
Your POS system needs to be completely optimised to gain the total advantage the cloud provides. The beauty of cloud computing is that you can retain & share customer data at every touch point whenever you need it , giving you the power to know the best way to engage each specific customer every time.
Craig Downing, Director of global cloud marketing for SAP suggests “Cloud computing, data analytics and in –memory computing are crucial tools in combining and leveraging social data with POS, loyalty data and syndicated data.” This data when analysed & put into use in pricing, inventory and marketing strategies can completely alter your buyers experience as well as your retail businesses margins.
Sensors and Devices will impact CRM
With the proliferation of available devices and increased connectivity retailers will be able to make real-time digital offers to customers who are actually in store. Research by SAP has shown that customers are eight times more likely to redeem an offer presented this way than via any other promotion.
Innovations such as offering mobile apps, micro-segmenting, real-time promotions and geo-sensing to recognise & follow customers when they are in store will see retail businesses flourish in 2014. Wherever & whenever retailers come into contact with a buyer they must deliver a unique brand experience to gain an edge over competitors as well as make the sale.
Visit www.retailexpress.com.au or call 1300 732 618.
Aaron Blackman is the CEO of Retail Express. Follow Aaron on Google+