How to Maximize Your In-Store Experience and Technology
Technology can be an enormous benefit to retailers once consumers are in their stores. A couple of retailers that are being progressive with in-store technology are Macy’s, with its tracking beacons and smart dressing room features, and UGG Australia, with RFID tags and “magic” mirrors to show off customization. These technologies are a value add for customers, as data collected from them fuels future personalization efforts.
Here are a few of the ways that retailers can support the technological investments they've made as well as encourage shoppers to come into their stores and make the most of these features.
Personalization is Paramount
In addition to catering to shoppers with helpful store data, customer information can help them hit the sweet spot with their purchases. Pulling up past transactions, tendencies and suggested items on in-store devices provides a VIP experience for shoppers. This kind of personal tailoring allows store associates to blend hard data with a human touch. Research indicates that consumers are more than willing to part with data about themselves as long as it leads to better experiences.
Retailers should take advantage of the abundance of available consumer data and use it to better understand their customers, making sure all are greeted with prompt, knowledgeable store associates. Retailers must keep in mind that customers know their own preferences much more clearly than retailers themselves, even with hard data. That human element is necessary for personalization and understanding what customers want.
As consumers’ schedules fill up with obligations, from work and family to social events, you would be hard-pressed to find someone who isn't spread thin when it comes to their free time. Appointment scheduling technology lets retailers capitalize on the small gaps and windows that even the busiest person has on their calendar. Not only does this simplify operations for the store by forecasting busy periods and facilitating resource allocation, but it alleviates shoppers’ fears of becoming lost in the crowd and wasting precious time.
Bringing the Knowledge
Helpful, well-trained employees can make a world of difference when it comes to differentiating your store from the competition. The first point of contact in-store can make or break a consumer's shopping experience, and a negative interaction may stop a path to purchase in its tracks. Staff should be cross-trained to assist with all store departments so they can quickly assist any shopper. Putting technology like tablets or smartphones in the hands of well-trained employees can allow them to access merchandise data and promotional materials at a moment’s notice.
According to a recent TimeTrade survey of over 5,000 consumers, when respondents were asked “Would you feel more confident that you were going to receive prompt, personal service if you saw that associates in a retail store were collaborating with each another on mobile devices (such as tablets and smartphones) to help customers?” more than half of the respondents (57 percent) answered “Yes.” Knowledgeable associates equipped with helpful technology make for a perfect combination to assist even the most stressed shopper.
The retail technology focus is gradually shifting in-store as more retailers begin to test new technologies and invest in proven ones. But ultimately, as promising as in-store technology is, it's not worth much if brick-and-mortar locations cannot drive foot traffic. By focusing on appointment scheduling and offering knowledgeable, personalized service, retailers can ensure that their investments go to good use and help maximize the in-store experience.
Sarah Wallace is principal market analyst at TimeTrade, a provider of an appointment scheduling SaaS solution.