Technology is not only a tremendous asset in today’s fast-paced retail world — it’s a must.
(0:07) From payments technology like point of sale systems and credit card machines that streamline business transactions to customer loyalty program applications that encourage repeat business and drive incremental sales, the list of the latest retail technology is endless. As solutions become more innovative and it becomes easier and cheaper to adopt new retail technology, there’s no excuse for settling for subpar business tools.
(00:28) How Mobile Technology Plays a Role in Your Retail Business
Mobile has quickly become one of the most important digital touchpoints for today’s consumer. Studies show that 84 percent of shoppers use their mobile phones while shopping. More and more customers are using their mobile devices to locate local businesses, find deals, and get information on products. This change in consumer behavior presents retailers with an opportunity to connect with customers digitally through the use of mobile applications.
Mobile applications not only help drive online sales, but they also help drive in-store traffic for brick-and-mortar retailers. However, once shoppers are in-store, they can always pull out their phone and find coupons and cheaper products online, as well as order those items for later delivery. This shift in behavior emphasizes the need for local retailers to focus on in-store customer experience. Sales clerks can break patterns in behavior through superior customer service and the use of mobile retail point of sale technology to alleviate long lines at the cash register.
You’ve also probably seen those price verification kiosks, which are useful to customers who want to know the price of an item before going to the cashier. Though these kiosks might be large and expensive, consider how you can leverage iPad technology to provide a similar experience in your store.
(01:29) The Impact of Technology on Local Retail Marketing
In today’s digital world, it’s important for brick-and-mortar merchants to connect with customers online. Many local retailers underestimate the need to market their business and services online. However, shoppable Pins and Instagram auctions are just some examples of how retailers can capitalize on the concept of shoppable content to drive sales and stay top of mind.
(01:47) Part I: Improving Retail Operations with In-Store Technology
Retail Operations are becoming more streamlined thanks to smart technology that enables everything from stress-free inventory management to employee management. Not to mention, access to valuable sales insights that helps you determine top-selling items.
If you’ve put off upgrading to new technology because you don’t want to take the time to learn how to use it, or because you think it’s too expensive, you’re at a competitive disadvantage. Here’s a closer look at how the right retail technology can help you run a more efficient and profitable retail operation.
(2:23) Streamlined Store Operations
The goal of every retail business owner is to maximize the productivity of their business, but this is easier said than done. There’s a lot that goes into both front of the house and the back of the house management that customers never even see. From sales generation and problem solving on the sales floor, to inventory management and workplace scheduling, all of these, responsibilities benefit from the application of technology.
Let’s look at the front of the house first. Today’s retailer can replace traditional, bulky cash registers with powerful retail hubs that can be operated from a single iPad. In addition, as more millennials continue to influence the adoption of mobile payments, retailers are encouraged to accept emerging payments technology like Apple Pay. This adoption will increase revenue and improve the checkout experience.
(3:18) Increased Customer Loyalty
Loyalty programs are a great way to encourage repeat customers. In fact, according to studies, 81 percent of consumers are more likely to continue doing business with brands that offer loyalty programs.
With a digital loyalty program, you won’t have to use archaic punch cards. Furthermore, you can get insightful analytics that helps you understand the buying behaviors of your customers and allows you to customize the offers that drive traffic to your retail location.
(3:52) Back of the House
One of the keys to a successful retail business is ensuring that the operations that happen between the front of the house and the back of the house are streamlined. Now that we’ve seen how technology can streamline your sales floor, let’s take a look at some of the often messier, but crucial, components of running a retail business.
Inventory should be a precise science, and it can be if you adopt the right retail technology. Rather than having to close up shop one night a month to manually count stock, inventory management technology automates this process, putting hours back in your week and ensuring that you never run out of your best-selling products.
By leveraging inventory management software that integrates with your point of sale system, you have access to detailed reports that show you which products are your best sellers, as well as your costs and profit margins. The ability to make informed decisions enables you to stay on top of your revenues and expenses, which ultimately leads to improved cash flow and maximized profits.
(4:54) Employee Management
A POS system with staff management features simplifies payroll administration and employee scheduling. Not only that, but it can also help you identify your star employees and reward them accordingly.
Common day-to-day questions can all be answered with the help of technology. When will I need more staff? When will the store be busy? Who should I schedule to maximize sales potential? These questions can all be answered by leveraging POS data.
Merchants that leverage the power of retail technology to perform store operations can improve sales in their business and provide a better shopping experience.
(6:10) Part II: Debunking the Myth of Online VS In-Store Retail
If you run a brick-and-mortar retail store, you may wonder if you’re really and truly competing with online stores. Should you set your marketing strategy to pit you against giant e-commerce sites like Amazon? When you compete on price rather than focusing on exceptional customer service and a quality product, you always risk the chance of being undercut on prices.
You should also consider if e-commerce is an area of your business you want to expand into. To help you make that decision, let’s look at some of the myths surrounding online versus brick-and-mortar retail. We’ll show you how you can not only keep your head above water as e-commerce shops increase in number, but also thrive with your retail store.
(6:57) Myth #1: You MUST Have an Online Store
It’s easy for other people to tell you what you have to do, and what you don’t have to do. But in reality, it comes down to what’s right for your business. If you’re not comfortable with technology or are struggling to streamline your brick-and-mortar operations, adding an e-commerce component to your business will likely be a headache you don’t need.
One shouldn’t confuse the ease of setting up an online presence with the ability to succeed online. Depending on what you sell and how big your marketing budgets are, the competition could make it difficult to establish a successful online market. Most brick-and-mortar business owners work long hours and have little additional time in their day to manage the logistics of maintaining an e-commerce presence. Ultimately, an e-commerce site is not just an additional channel for your business, but is an additional store to maintain.
If the idea of selling your products online, in addition to your retail store, isn’t something that excites you, then don’t do it. This is not to say that e-commerce is a bad idea. When done right, selling online can increase revenue and impact your business in a positive way. However, it is possible to generate revenue and be profitable by focusing on the growth of your physical brick-and-mortar location.
What you MUST HAVE, is an online presence to attract to your physical retail location.
(8:02) Myth #2: Running Both E-commerce and Physical Retail is Too Hard
Some business owners do quite well running both a physical retail location and e-commerce store. Many shoppers still look products up online but then buy them in a physical retail location. In fact, two-thirds of e-commerce customers are webrooming.
One of the challenges of setting up an e-commerce and retail presence is the initial setup and ongoing management. Ensuring inventory accuracy, managing customer databases, and handling customer service are just some of those challenges. Whatever your decision, know that you have several options when it comes to retail technology that can help streamline retail and e-commerce operations.
(8:48) Part II: 4 Ways You Can Future Proof Your Business from Emerging Trends
If you’re not naturally interested in technology, in fact, if you’re averse to it, you might struggle with knowing what retail technology you should focus on implementing in your business.
Tip #1: Make your in-store experience irresistible.
“Showrooming,” refers to people visiting your store to compare prices, then going and buying an item online for less. This could cause a decline in your brick-and-mortar sales, but it doesn’t have to. In fact, 55 percent of online shoppers would prefer to buy from a merchant with a physical store presence over an online-only retailer. This statistic is a testament to the fact that there is no replacement for a positive in-store experience and it’s your job to ensure you meet your customer’s expectations.
Focus on curating items that customers would have a hard time finding on the internet and get creative with the technology available to you to enhance the in-store experience. You could set up a tablet for customers to purchase items that are out of stock, and offer them a discount for doing so. You could also beef up your loyalty program to make it irresistible for them to buy from you, because they know they’ll be rewarded for doing so in the long run.The more focus you put on making your in-store experience stellar, the better you’ll be able to boost sales.
(10:06) Tip #2: Competing Against Cheaper E-commerce Retailers
You’ll never win the race to the bottom when it comes to pricing in retail. But the good news is: you don’t have to. Seventy percent of shoppers are willing to share their location with merchants if they believe they are getting something of value in return, such as coupons or loyalty points. Imagine how much more business you could get if you used push notifications and geo-targeting to attract customers into your store.
One of the biggest advantages of geo-targeting is that your customer is already near your business, not in front of their computer shopping, where they might see a competitor’s ad. Creating a mobile application or investing in technology for this does require some investment and planning, but it’s worth it if you’re trying to stay ahead of the curve.
For an enhanced customer experience, just remember to keep your customer’s behavior and expectations in mind when planning out the functionality of the app. If it doesn’t add value to their shopping experience, they won’t download it.
Last but not least, make sure to promote this application or service heavily in your store. Include a flyer in every bag to encourage people to download it, place signs in your physical retail location, and if necessary offer them a small discount on their next purchase for installing the application.
(11:35) Tip #3: Data-rich Customer Loyalty Programs
(11:35) Retail has long had a data gap, where archaic technology information was limited beyond the initial purchase. Today’s retail technology has changed that. While your customers might like the discounts they score with your loyalty program, the real perk is how well you get to know them as a result.
There are dozens of loyalty platforms out there, and most of them are set up like customer relationship management programs, where you can collect detailed data about purchases and customer preferences. Not only does this allow you to customize your offers, but it also impacts what you sell and how you sell in-store.
Here’s a little bit more on how this works:
Once a customer sets up an account, which is as easy as giving you their email or phone number, you can pull up that account every time they make a purchase. You can then see this date on your POS system whenever they visit your location or make a purchase, giving you several opportunities to customize their experience. You can greet her by name and ask how she liked her last purchase, or make recommendations for complementary products. The list goes on and on.
(13:15) Tip #4: Offer customers more ways to buy from you.
Customers want options. If you’re only selling in-store, you could be missing out on additional opportunities to make sales. Adding e-commerce to your retail business might not even be enough. Consider other ways you can sell to customers on the online channels they frequent.
Selling on social media is a big trend right now, especially on Pinterest, Instagram, and Facebook. Since users don’t have to leave these apps to make a purchase, selling through social media can boost your numbers more than selling on your website alone.
And what about product delivery? With Amazon Prime now offering 2-hour delivery in certain cities, customers are beginning to get accustomed to speedy delivery.
Could you boost profit margins if you offered delivery or worked with a service like Amazon to deliver your products? In-store pickup is another option to consider, and a service customers seek, helping bridge the gap between buying online and in-store.
Advances in technology are shifting consumer mindset and behavior. The application of retail technology allows merchants to quickly adapt to today’s ever-changing retail environment. Through a combination of iPad point of sale technology, social proof, and other digital technologies, retailers can improve the online and offline experience for customers, ultimately leading to improved customer relationships and increased revenue.