How Technology Is Helping Retailers Deliver A High-Touch Shopping Experience Powered by Digital Transformation
Brick and Mortar Stores Are Connecting Personally By Connecting Digitally
It’s been the purvey of sci-fi writers and fans forever –the cautionary tale that technology and digitalization will ultimately assume control, take over the planet, and leave mankind facing a world devoid of humanity. While this is certainly a blockbuster plot line, the good news is that reality, at least in the new age of retail, is pointing to an entirely different and much more optimistic outcome.
Today’s savvy brick and mortar retailers are flipping the script by taking full advantage of advances in cloud technology and digital transformation. Intelligent data collection and artificial intelligence are being used to personalize and even deepen the bond they share with their customers, while digitally driven technologies are improving supply chain operations and enhancing inventory control. The era of the faceless digital sale that blossomed during the rise of e-commerce is giving way to a customer-centric approach that applies retail-centric technologies to create a more customized, enriching, and, yes, downright human shopping experience – from the moment customers walk in the door to long after they’ve headed home.
It sounds rather odd, but it’s true. In retail, digitalized in-store conditions have become all about forging stronger personal connections. Brick and mortar brands and retail locations that maximize the potential of technologies will surely emerge as the leaders as shoppers find themselves more and more eager for the old-school trust and face-to-face engagement that has always been the backbone of brick and mortar retail.
In a March 2019 article featured on A Cloud Guru, Forbes contributor and VP of Retail Innovation for Aptos, Nikki Baird, put it this way. “It’s about moving from the traditional product-centric model to one that is customer centric. This means retailers need to focus on the digital value chain –collecting customer data, turning that data into insight, and then turning those insights into action. How quickly and well retailers do this will determine their success.”
It’s All About The Customer
It’s quite clear that physical shopping is finding its own place in the digital world. While pundits once predicted online growth would swallow brick and mortar retail, what’s really happened is a shared success.E-commerce and physical retail are two sides of the same coin called “retail channels” and customers are learning to appreciate them both.
What’s old is new again. It turns out shoppers genuinely appreciate the give and take that online shopping alone, as convenient as it might be, simply can’t deliver. Particularly when shopping for “high-value products”, customers appreciate being engaged by a knowledgeable salesperson who can walk them through products and their options. They enjoy being able to ask questions and getting immediate answers from a trained expert who understands both their concerns and the gizmo or gadget they have questions about. Essentially, there is a huge population of customers out there who still long for a uniquely personal shopping experience and appreciate the value a face-to-face interaction provides.
This is particularly true among those in the market for high-value products and services. Things like home appliances, cell phones and mobile devices, cable and internet, home automation and any other purchases that require a significant financial investment, and, most often, a longe personal commitment on the part of the buyer.
How do you shop for high-value brands and products? Are you still all about the point and click? Or, are you like many customers today who demand a more engaging experience?
Today’s digitalization and in-store conditions technologies give brands and retailers the ability to reach their customers and understand their products and services with a level of intimacy and understanding never before possible. A recent article on itbusiness.ca identifies two primary areas where digital technology can prove tremendously advantageous. The first is providing sales associates with the tools and insights they need to effectively deliver personalized service, and, the second involves using technology to create more satisfying in-store experience.
Both are the end result of leveraging integrated digital tools to map out a successful path forward.
Insights Are Invaluable
It’s no revelation that the key to connecting with customers is understanding them. What are their aspirations? What are their unique needs? What are their must-haves? How much are they willing to spend? When do they like to shop? What can you offer them that the competition can’t? How do you address their pain points? How do you know what in the heck they’re looking for in the first place?
Getting into the hearts and minds of your customers is a challenge to say the least. Not to mention, keeping their loyalty by staying relevant and offering value over time.. However, that’s exactly why maximizing today’s digital technology is so important. When done right, digital tools can paint a picture of your customers and the different ways they experience your products and stores that is right on the money – literally.
Take the solution provided by Mobile Insight®, for example. This pioneering company in digital retail is currently working with Fortune 500 brands, global tier-1 brand-owners and retailers, including COX Communications, Facebook, T-Mobile / Sprint, L’Oréal, and Xfinity to provide digitally rich Retail 4.0 solutions that yield market, competitive, merchandising and direct customer insights with a depth and scope never before possible.
“Think of a good digitally-centric retail solution as a window into your operations and, more importantly, into how your customers are reacting to your brand, your products, your people, and your sales environment. With the right data, it’s possible to glean powerful insights into the customer journey that allow you to build a more customer-centric and sustainable business model,” says Eduardo Santaella, COO & General Manager of Mobile Insight®, who was also quick to point out a few specific examples in more detail.
1. Know how customers are experiencing your stores and products.
Through cloud-based field tools like electronic smart forms, retailers are able to gain real-time data and corroborating photos of each store or location. Are products displayed and priced correctly? Do signage and/or promotional materials meet required standards? What products are selling and which ones are stuck on the shelves. It’s a rare opportunity to see and experience stores exactly as customers do – which makes it easy to determine what’s working, what’s not, and make immediate adjustments to improve the shopping experience.
2. Spot trends in customer behavior with enhanced data.
A solid digital solution pulls key data from a variety of sources – POS, geo-specific weather and traffic, 3rd party labor providers, footfall traffic from door swings and in-store sensors, intelligent video, and autonomous robots, to name a few. Insights from this data point to variables that shape customer behavior, such as seasonality, shopping trends, high-traffic days and hours, store locations and accessibility.
3. Empower salespeople to better engage customers and build meaningful relationships
Today’s shopper want’s a personal experience. Cloud-based solutions like Mobile Insight® allow Sales Associates to collect and access customer information at the point of sale. This makes it easier to understand their needs, answer their questions, provide expert service, and build a relationship that keeps the sales lifecycle open beyond the initial store visit.
4. Direct brand ambassadors and field-personnel to the venues and areas that matter
Mobile Insight provides Brand-owners and retailers the knowledge they need to understand which venues require immediate action. Via in-store conditions and first-hand knowledge of traffic, demographics, sales dynamics and coverage models. Using the latest mobile data sources and analytics, our coverage modeling tool shows you what locations and times are optimal for various types of store visits and activities After all, you drive forward by looking through the windshield not the rear view mirror..
How well do you understand your customers? Do you know what they think of your brand or retail stores? Are you building relationships and driving sales by making the cloud work for you? If not, learn how the world’s leading brands and retailers are doing it at MobileInsight.com
Don’t Think Store. Think Showplace.
The biggest advantage brick and mortar stores have over e-commerce sites is a sense of place and purpose. A great example of how the two channels feed off each for true omni-channel growth is the recent trend among businesses, particularly high-value brands and retailers, to adopt digital best practices to move beyond a traditional “products on shelves” philosophy and toward one that’s all about creating engaging and interactive experiences for customers.
For instance, in 2019 Samsung introduced its first fourSamsung Experience Stores. These futuristic venues tap into the intrepid spirit of discovery shared by the brand’s customers, inviting them to interact with the company’s latest mobile devices in ways that are as individual as the products themselves.
Samsung isn’t alone. Leaders from fashion brands to big box retailers are changing the way they look at their brick and mortar venues, applying digital solutions to improve the customer journey and launch exciting new ways to showcase their products.
You might say the lines between physical and digital retail have blurred. According to ACloud Guru, the evolution of the way consumer’s shop has become omni channel with shoppers wanting a seamless experience whether it’s in-store or online. Of course, this also means re-thinking operations, supply chain management, inventory, staffing, training and plenty of other business areas impacted by this new age of digitally driven retail 4.0 where the customer is king. Simply put: customer-centric retail. This is wheelhouse of retail management solutions like Mobile Insight®,which is why more and more top brands and retailers are partnering with these companies.
E-commerce and physical retail are no longer at odds with each other, but, instead, have found a highly profitable symbiotic grace (working at UNISON). The key is making sure both channels are performing in concert and at optimum levels to grow your business. OMNI-Channel
If you’d like to learn more about the latest cloud-based retail solutions and how they can bring the high-touch advantages of digital technology to your retail operations, visit mobileinsight.com
Mobile Insight® is the only retail management solution designed to meet the brick and mortar sales challenges of high-value brands and retailers. Unlike hardware and software providers that focus on fast-moving goods, the Mobile Insight® platform delivers assisted sales solutions for more complex, interactive and customer-centric environments. Combining data from in-store systems, 3PLs, employee and partner activity, Mobile Insight® enables informed, smarter decisions that drive sales and operations excellence. For more information, visit www.mobileinsight.com.
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