It’s no secret that online opportunities have affected the physical store in retail. But, recent statistics show that weekly bricks-and-mortar shoppers were up to 40% in 2015 and are expected to increase further to 44% in 2018. It’s likely that this is down to more people using shopping as a social activity and then placing their orders online. But, what does this mean for retailers?
In 2018, companies have the chance to utilise digital platforms by lowering their stock levels and using more space in their stores to offer greater engagement and interactivity — and in-store tech is a big part of this. But how important truly is in-store tech?
Forms of in-store technology
Today, almost all brands are on board with technology and digital platforms. But, recent research still indicates that people value brick-and-mortar stores — in fact, 81% of UK customers said that the physical stores were vital to the shopping experience. So, when it comes to improving the high-street and implementing in-store technology, what should retailers be getting involved with?
Studies have shown us that kiosks featuring artificial intelligence (AI) are a hit with customers. However, not all retailers are getting on board — 66% of those surveyed in one study said that they were yet to encounter artificial intelligence in-store. Do retailers realise the huge potential of this type of technology? In fact, 60% of consumers are attracted to the idea of using them to find products that they weren’t aware of before. As an example, in QUIZ’s digital stores, an in-store kiosk enables visitors to browse the full collection (even if some products aren’t available in-store) and order them to their homes or local store.
Another opportunity that in-store technology offers is helping staff to be better advisors and assistants to customers. One way to do this is by providing employees with handheld iPads or other smart tablets. This allows staff to find the answer to a query, check a product’s availability and place orders for the customer without having to use a fixed computer. This can improve the customer’s experience and help build a stronger brand-to-customer relationship.
Have you also considered augmented reality? This can help the customer with their purchase decision — such as do you go for the going out dress in red or in blue — and help them visualise themselves with the product. Although this can be made available through an app, there are also ways to introduce it in-store. In a fashion store for example, a smart mirror can allow customers to dress themselves in different outfits without actually trying them on. Similarly, in a furniture store, visitors can upload a photo of their home and try out pieces of furniture to see if it would suit their rooms.
Boosting brand loyalty and in-store visits
Technology can also be invaluable when it comes to getting people in your shop and making sure they keep coming back!
People almost expect some level of tech in their shopping experiences now, so you can get ahead of your competitors if you incorporate this into your physical store. One report even suggested that 53% of retailers view investments in new automations and appliances in-store as vital to keep up with their competitor activity.
Being tech-savvy can also enhance your brand’s persona. One study revealed that 46% of those surveyed said that a positive experience due to well-functioning technology increases their brand confidence.
It’s not all good news…
We all know how annoying it is when technology doesn’t work how we want it to. This can be frustrating and add time onto a customer’s visit which may result in a negative experience.
According to RetailWeek, almost 66% of those surveyed had experienced problems with in-store technology. Unfortunately, this then affects sales — one third of customers said that they were unable to complete their transactions because of the technology difficulties.
Don’t let bad experiences like the above adversely affect your brand. Retailers must keep software and technology updates and well-maintained to avoid issues like this. Likewise, if technology is difficult to use, this can deter customers and make people feel excluded — in-store tech should be simple to use, and visitors should be accompanied when using it, if it’s more complex.
Clearly, in-store tech is crucial in 2018 retail. Although customers are happy to shop online, they also enjoy shopping as a leisure activity and appreciate an interactive experience when doing so.