The modern retail revolution has pushed technological innovation to the forefront of retail priorities as brands attempt to keep up with enhanced consumer demands. These strategic investments can increase customer loyalty, provide cost benefits and open up new revenue opportunities. Appealing to the demands of the contemporary consumer, one who is drawn to a personalized, engaging, convenient and technology driven experience, is fundamental to success.
Implementing omnichannel, merging and blending online and in-store experiences and incorporating attractive and engaging personalized interactions are all avenues being pursued by some of the most innovative retailers today. Here are four examples of brands who are leading the way when it comes to successfully modernizing the shopping experience.
A leading beauty product specialist has executed an extremely successful omnichannel initiative which has bolstered both their online and in-store sales. They have effectively blurred the lines between the two by merging their ecommerce platform with their physical stores. This is essential considering that 75 percent of consumers expect consistent experiences across multiple channels (web, mobile, in-person, social), with 73 percent of customers likely to switch brands if that isn’t available.
The beauty retailer has achieved innovation by creating connected applications accessible in-store and on personal devices which allow the customer to engage with the product in a fast, fun and convenient way. While visiting the store, customers can engage with virtual reality technology which allows them to simulate trying on the product, while being presented with relevant information and other compatible product suggestions. The customer is also offered the option of connecting with social media, providing an opportunity to share their experience.
For grocery retailers, the biggest hurdles to customer satisfaction include scanning issues and checkout times. In fact, 88 percent of customers want their checkout experience to be faster. Implementing self-serve checkouts could potentially free up employees to focus on the customer, but these can have their own barriers. The same survey showed 45 percent of customers who choose not to use self-checkout do so because they have experienced technical and barcode difficulties.
Grocery brands also face pressure from online-only retailers who have rapidly entered the market. However, while these retailers have been successful, it is also true that 67 percent of customers have not purchased groceries online as they still prefer to pick fresh produce in person. For most retailers, this means finding a balance between online and physical.
One major grocery retailer is successfully overcoming the technological challenges disrupting customer experience by introducing an application that bypasses the checkout clerk altogether and allows payment to be made directly on the customer’s phone. Known as scan & go, this speeds up the checkout time and makes it easier for customers to get what they need from the store and get out quickly. Innovations at the checkout will continue to impact the retail industry as customers demand a faster and more convenient way to pay for their products.
Quick service restaurants have also had success implementing mobile apps to improve the customer experience and free up employees who would otherwise be standing at the cash register. One leading chain restaurant, having implemented a personal device application for payment, saw 27 percent of all transactions in-store being processed through the application in 2017. Since then, they have continued to implement new solutions, including recently introducing voice ordering and augmented reality in some locations.
Identification and involvement with the product is a crucial technique to gaining customer loyalty, as 80 percent of consumers desire to be engaged with the product they are buying and prefer to shop at brands which offer that. The brand’s augmented reality technology allows customers to engage and connect with the brand by being able to peer inside the production machinery and read details about the process. The brand further engages the customer by encouraging them to participate in collecting virtual badges as they experience the store and then share their experience on social media platforms.
Similarly, a specialty footwear retailer has taken personalization and engagement of their product in interesting directions. They have turned after-hour window display shopping into an interactive, informative process which allows the customer to browse through products on a display. This allows them to access information, see the products on a virtual interactive mannequin and to save products of interest on their smartphones for later. Behind the scenes they have made it possible for customers to personalize the product itself, allowing for selection of design features for online ordering.
They have started implementing 3D printing technology that allows for on-demand production and avoids unnecessary overstock waste. The technology also has huge potential for tailoring their product to cater to the customer’s individual foot shape. This technology will make its way into stores soon, providing the ultimate customization experience and creating a competitive advantage over other brands.
Investing in strategic technology is a win-win for any retailer looking to grow and stay competitive. Technological innovation can benefit retailers in the form of increased customer loyalty and attachment with the brand, reduced costs and new revenue. The benefits are plenty, when technology is integrated with the customer in mind.
Publish Date: December 10, 2018
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