How often have you gone into your favorite retailer's store and opened its app, only to face the dreaded spinning wheel? Customers hate slow-loading loyalty apps — and retailers should, too.
Customers use a retailer’s app in-store for several reasons: making a purchase, checking which aisle a product is located, processing a return, or redeeming rewards. Interactive technology is an important tool for retailers looking to improve loyalty and revenue, but it can have the opposite effect when it doesn’t work as expected.
Embracing cloud-optional technology allows apps to work whether or not internet connectivity is available. It empowers retailers to build more reliable experiences for customers and employees alike.
Changing Customer Behavior Highlights Challenges With Internet-Reliant Apps
Apps created by retailers are nothing new — they're a proven tool that increases engagement and gives retailers another way to communicate with their customers and improve loyalty. Plus, customers who order through an app are more likely to utilize loyalty bonuses, which give businesses valuable customer data. What’s interesting, however, is that beyond how customers interact with companies on digital platforms, where they interact is shifting. In fact, a widely cited stat from Forrester estimated that 72 percent of retail sales this year will be made in physical store locations.
While online shopping has become a mainstay, foot traffic at stores is increasing, creating a new challenge for companies: ensuring a consistent digital experience no matter where the customer is. Many stores have limited internet connectivity, making using an app in-store a frustrating experience.
Beyond more customers visiting traditional brick-and-mortar stores, other types of physical shopping locations such as pop-up shops, mobile trucks, and even curbside pickup are gaining popularity. This can lead to an unforeseen issue of lack of internet connectivity — especially when an event is in more rural areas or at events with massive amounts of people. For massive events, the traditional approach of adding Wi-Fi repeaters is an inefficient and often cost-prohibitive solution.
As retailers look towards building out their technology stack, they need to consider not just how customers and employees interact with their technology, but also where — and the often less-than-ideal internet connectivity they may be working with.
Cloud Optional Drives More Reliable Experiences
Building mobile apps with a cloud-optional approach reduces reliance on internet connectivity to improve reliability of customer-facing and backend technologies. Cloud-optional applications can achieve this through the power of peer-to-peer synchronization and embedded local databases.
Since the app isn’t reliant on the internet to sync, they instead utilize offline networks to communicate directly with other devices. Now, when you walk into your favorite store, instead of that dreaded spinning wheel, your phone can connect and sync with store devices around you such as employee iPads or point of sale (POS) to serve you the information you need in real time, whether that’s loyalty, inventory or order data. It’s a technology used for many mission-critical applications, such as in the airline industry and military, but the use cases for the retail industry are endless.
For retail companies, modernizing POS and customer applications with cloud-optional technology can have a meaningful impact on the bottom line by:
- improving ordering in remote locations;
- simplifying contactless ordering to reduce lines;
- improving curbside pickup;
- improving inventory accuracy;
- speeding up payment processing;
- increasing app and loyalty bonus usage; and
- supporting offsite events.
Say Goodbye to Reliance on Internet Connectivity
Retail companies face an incredibly competitive landscape and must be agile enough to adapt to changing customer preferences. Companies that embrace cloud-optional technology can meet customer expectations for reliable and high-quality in-store digital experiences, no matter if there's internet connectivity or not.
Adam Fish is co-founder and CEO of Ditto, creator of a cloud-optional database that enables apps to synchronize data in real time even without internet connectivity.
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