How important is in-store technology?
Because of the rise of online shopping, physical stores experienced a decrease. 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?
For retailers, this could mean that they now have the opportunity to reduce their stock levels and use the space to create a more interactive experience — paving the way for more in-store tech. Together with QUIZ, womenswear retailer and owner of seven digital-led stores across the UK, we take a look at the importance of having in-store tech:
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What are the types of in-store technology?
At one point, it was the influence of the internet an e-commerce that was changing the industry. 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 revealed that kiosks powered by artificial intelligence (AI) are popular 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 of dresses for example (even if some products aren’t available in-store), and order them to their homes or local store.
Having in-store technology can also improve customer service. It can enable staff to become better informed and more helpful to the customer. 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.
Something else to consider, is augmented reality. This can help the customer with their purchase decision 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.
Increasing store visits
Having technology in your store can increase the amount of footfall you receive and improve brand loyalty.
In-store technology could potentially make your brand more attractive. Some retailers are recognising this too as one report suggested that 53% of retailers view investments in new automations and appliances in-store as vital to keep up with their competitor activity.
Be prepared for everything
Something many of us have experienced is the failure of technology. This can be frustrating and add time onto a customer’s visit which may result in a negative experience.
One study by RetailWeek discovered that two thirds of those surveyed had experienced problems and breakdowns in-store with the technology. Unfortunately, this then affects sales — one third of customers said that they were unable to complete their transactions because of the technology difficulties.
These sorts of experiences can deter customers from revisiting the store and can make them leave the store with a negative opinion of the brand. Retailers must keep software and technologies updates and well-maintained to avoid issues like this.
Also, if a customer finds a technology hard to use, it can deter customers from getting involved with it. This could make people feel excluded too — in-store tech should be simple to use, and visitors should be accompanied when using it if it’s more complex.
To sum up, in-store technology is becoming more important. Although customers are happy to shop online, they also enjoy shopping as a leisure activity and appreciate an interactive experience when doing so.