It’s tough to keep customers happy in today’s face-paced world, where people demand convenience, instant gratification, and personalization. Time is very valuable, and tempers start getting shorter as lines get longer.
The shopping experience is changing as customers become more discerning with different retailers’ approaches to presenting and selling their goods. The traditional act of going to a physical location, hunting for a good deal or the right product, standing in line, paying with cash and crossing their fingers that they won’t have to return the item is slowly fading to the background as customers seek out seamless experiences.
By no means does this imply that brick-and-mortar shopping is dead. It’s just evolving.
Retailers are finding new ways to enhance the customer experience by taking advantage of retail mobility solutions that streamline logistics, shorten long lines, provide several payment options, and create clear signage and information. Every company has their own priorities, goals, and culture, and there are countless combinations of mobility solutions that help retailers keep pace with today’s demands while staying within their abilities and objectives.
Tons of brands have found innovative ways to integrate digital tools into the shopping experience. Best Buy, for example, has been having success with a multichannel approach for a while, but are now equipping their sales associates with tablets and having them interact with shoppers in person, meeting them at the point of consideration rather than talking with them for the first time at the (hopeful) point of purchase. Something as simple as this could help customers find what they need quickly with a simple inventory search, and potentially, lead to more sales.
You don’t stock only one size of every item, so why would you use a one-size-fits-all approach to your sales channels? People are unique individuals, and they have a number of ways they prefer to make purchases, including mobile devices, voice-activated virtual assistants, laptops, and yes, the physical store. They want a pain-free, personalized, and convenient experience where it’s easy to find what they need and pay for it however and wherever they want.
It’s time to get real with yourself and ask the tough questions: Are you keeping pace with customer demands? Are they happy with their retail experience? Do you have all the equipment, devices and channels necessary to meet their needs? Here are some ideas of how you can implement retail mobility solutions to enhance the customer experience.
Retail Mobility: In-Store Customer Experience
For the brick-and-mortar shoppers.
Wherever there’s a printed sign, there’s an opportunity to use digital signage. Print advertisement posters can be transformed into videos or animations and easily updated when there’s a new message or product to promote. They give brands the ability to craft interactive signage that draws in passersby, up-sells and cross-sells. There’s also an opportunity to showcase influencers or social media promotions, social proof, try-before-you-buy options, and more.
Customers appreciate knowing what to expect when they get to the checkout, and sometimes price tags aren’t visible, or they’re difficult to find. Something as simple as an employee walking around with a mobile price scanner or setting up digital price-checking kiosks are retail mobility solutions that streamline a shopping experience. If your target demographic are mobile phone savvy, there are apps available for customers to scan a product’s UPC code and pull up prices directly on their own mobile devices.
Many consumers today are either researching an item online first to find the best price for it, or they’re researching prices from multiple outlets when they see something in-store that they like. Retail mobility solutions give you a chance to use targeted messaging when customers are digitally comparing prices on products you sell so that you can offer promotions, discounts or relevant advertising.
Point of Sale (POS) Systems
There’s so much more that goes into the process of paying for items in a store at a POS system. Loyalty programs, discounts, and digital receipts are common on the consumer side, while the store employees use POS systems for clocking in, scanning barcodes, tracking sales, looking up inventory, and more. Modern POS systems take the customer experience a step further by offering customized promotions, coupons, and marketing retargeting campaigns — as well as accepting several types of payment. Using the customer data gathered at POS systems, you’re then better able to deliver a customized experience in subsequent encounters.
Sometimes people just want to be left alone, or are in a hurry and don’t feel like interacting. That’s cool. It’s all about giving them the experience they want, not the experience you think they should have. Giving the option for self-checkout might be exactly what they’re looking for.
Mobile self-checkout is the newer, up-and-coming version of traditional self-checkout, and it’s incredibly simple for customers and associates. There are apps available that give customers the ability to scan a product’s UPC code on their mobile device, add the item to their shopping cart and pay within the app, skip the lines altogether and walk out of the store. Sam’s Club has been doing this with its Scan & Go app since 2016.
RFID and other advanced technologies have come into play in recent years, making the shopping experience completely cashless, convenient and simple.
Long lines are the ultimate annoyance for any shopper. People are almost always in a rush, and even those who aren’t on a tight schedule probably don’t prefer standing in one place for longer than about three minutes. If there’s a toddler with them, forget it.
Retail mobility solutions can reduce wait time in several ways. You can give employees mobile checkout systems to literally walk around and check out customers wherever they are in the store if it’s a high-volume day. Enhanced POS devices and mobile self-checkout add to the convenience and help cut down on lines. Or, as mentioned before, lines may be eliminated completely through mobile self-checkout apps.
Retail Mobility: Digital Customer Experience
For the tech-savvy buyers.
Mobile App Management
Retail mobile apps are becoming more popular as a convenient alternative or complement to the physical store. The ones that perform the best prioritize ease-of-use and seamlessly integrate with a store’s loyalty program, online shopping, and in-store shopping. You can use beacons to create proximity messaging that targets app users with exclusive discounts, sales, and events, or customized marketing messages that pop up when the person is near the store.
The rockstar of retail is a valuable, well-executed omnichannel strategy. Several of the retail mobility solutions already discussed combine to create an online, in-person, and mobile app experience for customers that is seamless, enabling them to do their research, find a product, locate it in-store, try it on, match it to complementing items, tie-in their loyalty program, and pay using their mobile device.
Imagine if a customer walks into your store and the product they want is not available. If you’re prepared with omnichannel capabilities, the customer can search for the item on your store’s app or website and find it in a nearby location or order it online to be shipped to them. Or, an associate walking around with a tablet would be able to do the same thing quickly for the customer.
Omnichannel capabilities give you the ability to meet a customer where and how they prefer to shop. Some retail outlets have programs set up where a customer does their research and buys an item online, then picks up their purchase in-store or has it delivered same-day to their house. Automated locker systems, such as those offered by Apex Technologies, are used for self-service, click-and-collect offerings where customers purchase products digitally and pick them up securely at a physical location.
It’s a chance for you, as the retailer, to collect a huge amount of data that is tailored to a customer’s experience to exactly their shopping preferences, including predictive marketing and digital try-before-you-buy opportunities. Then that data is used to help your sales associates upsell or cross-sell once the customer is in-store and inform smart POS systems for a personalized checkout experience.
Successful retail mobility solutions are more than piecemeal software and hardware components. Each component should be strategically thought out and integrated into a connected program with the infrastructure to support it. A strong WiFi environment is necessary to keep everything running smoothly. Real-time inventory controls will help keep the experience seamless.
But don’t get intimidated. There are resources available to help you choose the right combination of solutions and determine the appropriate devices and software to get you on track. You can start small and scale up as needed.
River Capital can help you in several ways, including by offering Hardware-as-a-Service (HaaS) options that create a more flexible way to procure and roll out retail mobility solutions. Contact us today to discuss your organization’s needs.