As consumers continue to incorporate technology into every aspect of their lives, it’s become abundantly clear that digital is in the driver’s seat. While technology may streamline and modernize the consumer’s retail journey, it’s vital for automation to be convenient and personalized to lay a foundation for consumers looking to seamlessly integrate state-of-the-art retail experiences into their lives.
Mobile is increasingly becoming a retail force to be reckoned with. Beyond out-of-store connectivity, shoppers are demanding a different in-store experience — one that's digitally enhanced. A recent Interactions’ survey examined how today’s shoppers are influenced by both digital and human engagement. Ultimately, the findings illustrated just how necessary it is for retailers to successfully use technological features to improve the overall shopping experience, with 84 percent of respondents noting this need. The question is, how should retailers address this demand and how can it be used to reinforce the bottom line?
Streamlining Retail Technology
Customers are exposed to technology every day, and therefore expect new advancements to be as intuitive as the devices in their pockets and homes. Retailers must adhere to these customer ideals and restructure the way they incorporate technology to ensure their shoppers understand how to use these high-tech additions every step of the way.
While 62 percent of shoppers noted they would prefer to be greeted by a person, only 10 percent of shoppers felt it was necessary to interact with a store associate while they finalized their purchase. What this means is that consumers want to use self-checkout and mobile checkout options. However, it's also necessary for retailers to staff store associates appropriately to ensure someone is always available to help shoppers navigate the technology they're using and offer human interaction, if that's the customer’s preference. Giving consumers the power of choice in how they shop can optimize the way they perceive a store’s commitment to customer service.
Retailers can make the most of the technology they implement by staffing self-checkout lanes with experienced employees to make it easier for customers to learn how to use the service on their own. An associate can train customers on best practices for self-checkout systems, or encourage them to opt for a staffed checkout lane if the shopper has many weight-charged items or an overflowing basket.
Whatever retailers decide to add in-store to make self-checkout easier, one thing we know to be true is that a consistently positive shopping experience is crucial to the success of technological integrations. Every negative self-checkout experience makes it less likely for a customer to use that technology again, which lowers the return on the investment made into incorporating new machinery.
Influencing Consumer Purchases
With advancements in targeted messaging, retailers have a significant opportunity to influence purchase decisions through a consistent stream of relevant and personalized communication, leading to unplanned purchases and more motivation to visit a physical store or website. Through push notifications and easy connectivity via social channels, retailers can reach consumers at key moments in the sales funnel, which has resulted in 57 percent of shoppers spending more money at a retailer after receiving a notification. What’s more, 68 percent of consumers admitted that these notifications, whether they're received in-store or at home, have led to an unplanned purchase. By making the integration of targeted notification technology a priority, retailers can increase overall sales while appealing to shoppers who benefit from tailored messaging.
Meeting Shopper Needs
It's no longer an option to ignore retail technology. Companies must invest in software, automation and other advancements to provide consumers with the seamless retail experiences they desire.
As shoppers consider the future, they expect technology to provide them with faster delivery via drone (39 percent), increased safety of their personal information (68 percent), and more personalization via technology like 3-D printing (95 percent). Consumers are willing to pay for the ease of having their demands met, benefitting companies worldwide that choose to add retail technology to their businesses.
For retailers that need to prioritize where to invest, faster, more automated alternative checkout methods followed closely by targeted notifications are ideal points of entry into the space.
Rekha Ramesh is the senior vice president of global IT and digital at Daymon, a provider of expert global retail strategies and services.