How Tech is Changing the Retail Experience
Technology is changing many aspects of people’s everyday lives. Similarly, industries are being affected by continuous progress in technology and must serve consumers with recent developments in mind.
Those who are professionally involved with retail operations, especially at senior management levels, need to understand the ways in which retail business is being affected and impacted by technology. These retailers need to make informed strategic decisions in order to ensure continued profitability and growth.
The success mantra for retail used to be “stock shelves and wait for customers.” With today’s technological advancements, retail has evolved into an industry far more complex. Forward-thinking retail managers can stay on top of shifting marketplace dynamics by carefully monitoring the importance of these key trends:
Online research before purchase
Today’s shoppers research the majority of purchase decisions. According to a 2014 market research study cited in Forbes, a staggering 72 percent of Millennials conduct online product research before going to a brick and mortar shop. This makes it imperative for retail locations to have an online presence for their stores. Websites should be built using responsive technologies (so that it can be utilized across a range of devices) and a mobile app for all of the most popular mobile platforms. Many consumers visit retail locations to test a product, before buying online. Therefore, it’s imperative that customers get their questions answered and have a positive in-store experience. To accurately target consumers, retail brands must have insights into shelving, inventory, timing, and the buying process. Educated employees and well thought-out retail execution are also fundamental to business success.
The popularity of social networks and review sites has made the reputation of retail businesses vulnerable. One disgruntled customer is empowered to cause serious damage to a retail brand’s reputation with nothing more than a few clicks, taps or keystrokes. In order to mitigate possible risk in this area, stores and product manufacturers must ensure a seamless shopping experience throughout the buyer’s journey.
Fortunately for brick and mortar retailers, no amount of technological advancement can replace the experience of in-store shopping. Consumers like the opportunity to physically examine products and talk to store personnel. Retailers need to continually explore how to present products to consumers in unique, innovative ways that trigger positive emotions.
Using the correct software, field teams can collect information about fast-selling inventory, and similar data that provides context for customer demand. Actionable data lets brands and retailers make wise financial decisions, refine strategy, operations, and marketing collateral. Mobile data collection technology provides insight into consumer-buying preferences that can help guide retail strategy. Retailers and brands should utilize all of these tools in order to optimize product lines, inventories, and pricing. This will help maximize sales, revenues and profits in this new, technology-empowered retail environment.