Modern consumer trends shape customer expectations in their personal lives and within the American retail landscape.
Retailers are invested in customer-facing technology, with payment options such as Apple Pay, that offers mobile payments and other standards customers expect. Over 80 percent of consumers use their smartphones for product research and as shopping companions – a major difference in the modern shopping experience compared to the typical experience two decades ago. By 2020, Accenture predicts millennial spending to reach 30 percent of retail sales. As the generations cycle through, large consumer populations including Generation Z and millennial, will have specific technology expectations for their retailers. However, consumer-facing tech is only one half of the puzzle. Is your in-house tech keeping up?
The Consumer Tech Benefits Your In-House Tech Needs
Consumers benefit from technology in many ways, including increased productivity and effectiveness. They use mobile phones for everything from checking their order status to doing on-the-spot product research, enabling better purchasing decisions. Your in-house technology should bring similar benefits to the table, or else the mismatched technology will lead to problems keeping up with consumers.
Retailer and brand technology needs to be adopted alongside consumer-facing options. If you can’t keep up with the technology required to stay productive and competitive, you’ll find it impossible to compete in a tech-heavy retail market. Brick and mortar retailers already have enough pressure on them from ecommerce competition; you don’t want to deal with more barriers to effective retail execution.
Essential In-House Tech
Pen and paper might have worked for retailers and brands in the past, but it creates a giant gap between the in-house and consumer-tech infrastructure. It’s also impossible to keep up with a competitor if it means making use of an inefficient decades-old system. Here are a few in-house retail technology options for keeping up with consumer tech.
Beacons are Bluetooth devices intended to provide proximity marketing opportunities and mobile data collection devices. When a smartphone comes close to these beacons, the beacon can send marketing messages, associate the consumer’s smartphone with their customer information, provide additional product information and gather consumer data for enhanced marketing.
Smart shelves are additional retail technology advancements creating efficiency in retail execution. These shelves are similar to beacons, sending proximity based messages to consumers based on the products they’re inspecting, demographic information and other data points. Brands can use these shelves to drive interest to their products beyond signs and packaging design. These shelves can also help with retail inventory and sales management as customers pick things off the shelf.
Retail and Brand Apps
Retail apps provide an area where in-house and consumer tech cross paths. Consumers expect an optimized website experience or a mobile app; brands and retailers can use apps to reach engaged customers through their smartphones, which are already an essential part of the shopping experience.
Customer-facing tech might seem like it’s the most important part of the retail experience for consumers, but in-house tech also plays an essential role in catering to consumer demand. When you improve the efficiency and productivity of your back-end technology, you position the retail environment to serve customers more effectively. Whether you create engaging mobile apps or use beacon technology to put product information right in the consumer’s hands, your in-house technology lets you shape the experience and improve operational efficiency so you can compete within a tech driven marketplace.