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 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, intelligent data collection, and artificial intelligence to personalize and even deepen the bond they share with their customers. 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 cloud-based 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, the cloud has become all about forging stronger personal connections. Brick and mortar brands and retail locations that maximize the potential of cloud-based 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 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."
It’s All About The Customer
It’s become quite clear that the demise of physical shopping at the hands of the digital realm was woefully predicted by retail pundits and powerbrokers alike. But why is that? What was the tipping point that swung the pendulum back towards brick and mortar retail?
In a word – customers.
What’s old is new again. It turns out shoppers genuinely appreciate the give and take that online shopping, as convenient as it might be, simply can’t deliver. They 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.
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 longer 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 cloud-based technology gives brands and retailers the ability to reach their customers with a level of customization 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 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. However, that’s exactly why maximizing today’s cloud-based 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, including Samsung, Xfinity, and AT&T to provide real-time, cloud-based data solutions that yield market, competitive, merchandising and direct customer insights with a depth and scope never before possible.
“Think of a good cloud-based 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 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.
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.
“Think of a good cloud-based 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 business model.”
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. That’s why many businesses, particularly high-value brands and retailers, are moving away from the traditional “products on shelves” retail philosophy and toward one that’s all about creating engaging and interactive experiences for their customers.
A great example of this trend is Samsung. In 2019 the mobile giant introduced its first four Samsung 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 A Cloud 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, inventory, staffing, training and plenty of other business areas impacted by this new age of 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.
Digital and physical retail are no longer at odds with each other, but, instead, have found a highly profitable symbiotic grace. The key is making sure both channels are performing in concert and at optimum levels to grow your business.
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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