Harnessing Technology to Support a Seamless Shopping Experience
The consumer has spoken and the message is clear: having a great physical store experience isn't sufficient; technology must be used to enhance the browsing experience in and out of store. Consumers are demanding seamless access to products through the channels that are most convenient to them. Increasingly, those channels are online and mobile. Therefore, it's no surprise that retailers are moving rapidly to adapt to these new purchasing behaviors, and it all begins with technology.
The nexus between powerful smartphones, integrated with mobile applications that generate data about consumer behavior and sensor-based technologies, is producing sweeping changes in the shopping experience. For many brands, the lines between physical stores and e-commerce are now blurred. The integration is underway and the atmosphere for shoppers is becoming one.
The process begins with accessing the most effective in-store capabilities and digital platforms with the goal of creating a superior shopping experience. If done right, a seamless shopping infrastructure will ultimately lead to deeper customer relationships, increased conversion, more useful data analytics and better supply chain economics. A sampling of the new technology-driven products that retailers are using to better connect with consumers and upgrade their business models include the following:
Mobile apps: Many brick-and-mortar retailers provide interactive maps that shoppers can view on smartphones to locate products, checkout counters, request assistance, check inventory and more. By adding location-based tools, retailers can immediately send coupons and promotions to shoppers based on what they're browsing in-store, the weather, current inventory and shopper history. Furthermore, price comparison apps help shoppers to determine if they're getting the best price, while product identification apps allow shoppers to take a picture of the product and learn more about it. In effect, these technologies empower consumers, while enabling retail stores to tap into the same digital marketing and engagement opportunities that online retailers have employed.