Technologies in Retail have evolved, but has it evolved to the extent of driving more foot traffic? Influencing new customers who are in the same locality to come visit the store and buy products is still an area that needs improvement.

To attract new customers, retailers need to adopt technologies like Customer-Sentiment Analysis conducted on social media to find out the interests of customers, Chatbots on websites to assist customers on the products online or instore, Geo-Targeted Mobile Ads which will drive customers who are in the same neighborhood to come visit the store.  These are some of the technologies that will help retailers discover potential customers. But will all these technologies be efficient enough?

As for existing customers, how many of them really take the effort in downloading the Retailer’s App? Even if they do, is the App efficiently being used? Only then can technologies like location-based marketing (beacons) be used to comprehensively ease marketing process.

Technologies/Features:

Geo-Targeted Mobile Ads

This technology is meant for the customers who are near the store, but who have no clue on the offers available.

These Digital Ads may possibly attract new customers and improve the foot traffic at the store. But before the retailers post digital Ads, they must have a target audience. They should conduct big data analysis, where huge data sets can be captured from social media like Facebook & Twitter and the customer sentiment analyzed. By doing this, retailers can find out the number of people desiring a particular product in a locality.

This will fairly bring in a lot of new customers. Research recently conducted by McKinsey found that “U.S. retailer supply chain operations who have adopted data and analytics have seen up to a 19 percent increase in operating margin over the last five years.” Data is clearly effective for retailers, but it’s about putting it to work in the right areas with predictive capabilities.

Location-based Marketing

This technology is meant for the customers who are aware of the store and who needs a push notification of relevant offers from the retailer.

But retailers play the relevance game well and mustn’t push too many messages thus losing the interest of their customers.

Brands like Starbucks combined the power of location and mobile services to let customers order before even stepping in the outlet so that they don’t have to hang around waiting for their order. This saved time & enticed the customers to visit the store again. Nchannel also said that 22% spend more at the store if digitally influenced.

Chatbots

This technology is meant for customers who need support with their product purchase.

Chatbot is a great way to connect with a customer both in-store and online, the automated bots will take care of the customer queries, provide customer service and potentially upsell shoppers. Forbes says machine learning & Artificial Intelligence (AI) are changing the face of customer service and how customers interact with it.

Chatbot Magazine states that: “People prefer to receive information about the brands while they’re shopping, and Chatbot seems as product or service description and FAQ. It allows you to enhance your ROI, keeping your costs low.” Retail giants Sephora and H&M launched bots to help shoppers browse and buy their products. Experts expect bot usage to surge 57% to 177 million users by 2019.

Beacons

This technology is meant for customers who are in the vicinity of the store.

It significantly influences customers both outside the store and inside the store. Beacon is still a technology that is not adopted by all, and there are challenges faced in using Beacons. The first challenge is Bluetooth, more than half of your customers are not reachable via beacon. The second is downloading the app; retailers have issues getting their customers to download their app. The third is ignored user experience; many customers turn a blind eye to the notifications.

These challenges can be easily avoided if retailers understand their customers well. Regular feedback will let them know if this technology is doing well in their store and enhancements can be made accordingly. Beacons certainly are a technology that will help the retailer on so many levels. They can generate heat maps which is vital for their sales. This widely increases the sale for the retailers. Some of the largest retailers in our study, such as Walmart, Nordstrom, and Target, are using (or testing) beacon technology to send personalized messages to customers while they’re shopping in stores.

RFID

RFID is another technology that is being popularly used in retail stores.  It provides an all-encompassing improvement to inventory accuracy, sales, margins, and expedited returns, according to a research study at Auburn University. Innovative retailer, Zara, has built their business around RFID. They are now able to conduct a physical inventory in their outlets in about 15% of the time it used to take.

Business Benefits

  • Target customer promotion early in the customer journey
  • Gain new customers & retain the old customers
  • Track the customers’ buying pattern – Insights from the in-store behavior, purchase history & other activities on the app will help retailers create personalized offers and predict future trends
  • Heat maps – Using heat maps of shopper density, retailers can offer timely service & meet demand in real time
  • Gain better sales with more foot traffic

Our next blog in The Connected Store 2.0 series will cover In-store Customer Experience. Stay tuned.

Abhishek Mahajan

Always excited for a challenge to get me out of my comfort zone and keep me running. Special liking for opportunities that let me build a team and walk with them to deliver success while never shying away from failures.

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