With the news that 1 in 10 shops on the UK’s high streets now lays empty, the future of brick and mortar retail stores is looking increasingly bleak. Pair this with the fact that the UK’s ecommerce turnover is predicted to reach €200 billion this year (a 14.6% rise from last year), and it becomes clear that the future of retail is very much digital.
So, how does physical retail compete with the convenience of online shopping? Well today, our friends over at Action Storage are exploring one solution being favored by many brick and mortar stores across the globe – the implementation of technology.
Photo by Patrick Tomasso on Unsplash
Enabling a greater convenience
Ecommerce’s greatest appeal is undoubtedly convenience – after all, why bother traipsing into town for that new pair of jeans when they can be delivered straight to your door within a couple of clicks? However, with the implementation of technologies both new and old, physical retail can begin to offer the customer an element of convenience too.
One of the most tried and tested ways of doing this is by offering a click and collect service. By integrating ecommerce platforms with physical retail spaces, customers can enjoy a hassle-free consumer experience that ties together the convenience of online ordering with the ease of picking up at a time and place of their choosing.
A newer technological trend amongst physical retail stores is the rise of smart shops. These stores are often staffless, instead of tracking consumer purchases through self-scan barcode systems. By removing the stress of queues, the physical retail experience instantly becomes convenient and, subsequently, more appealing to consumers.
AI is also becoming a prominent feature in leading brick and mortar stores, streamlining the physical shopping experience further still. Searching through endless racks for a specific item is a thing of the past, with integrated AI systems enabling customers to snap items they see when they’re out and about, searching through a store’s inventory instantly to find the same or similar product (as well as its location within the store).
Personalizing the experience
As more and more stores look to embrace technology, the physical shopping experience is becoming more immersive and personal in every aspect.
For example, cognitive computer technology can now interact directly with the customer to find out more about what it is they’re searching for. From this information, AI systems can make informed, personalized recommendations to the customer, personalizing the shopping system from the off.
Furthermore, leading fashion retailers such as Ralph Lauren have implemented the latest in retail technological innovation in their dressing rooms with the use of interactive mirrors. These mirrors enable customers to change the colour of their item without having to go back out onto the shop floor and search for it, as well as suggesting items to complement their chosen piece – in essence, acting as the customer’s own personal stylist.
What’s more, with the use of mPOS (mobile point of sale), near-field communications and Bluetooth, retailers can now be notified when returning customers enter the store, enabling them to greet the customer by name and provide personalised, targeted promotions – engaging and converting more customers as a result.
Photo by Marcin Kempa on Unsplash
The implementation of technology in physical retail is perhaps the most valuable asset to brick and mortar stores looking to survive the ecommerce revolution. Boasting a variety of benefits to both consumers and retailers alike, one thing’s for sure – whether it’s physical or ecommerce retail, the future is very much digital.
Beacon is a very tiny and less expensive, micro-location-based technology which I used to send the radio signals and detect the present Bluetooth devices near it and share information. The smartphone captures these radio signals according to the distance from the beacon devices. Most of the industrial sectors, educational institutes, finance, travel, etc. have started the usage is beacon technologies which help then to elevate their retail sales and communicate with their existing customers.
There are many innovative ways through which a beacon technology can be useful in the retail industry. Moreover, it allows the retailers to enable high experience for their customers, depending on their relationships. The following section will enlighten some of the benefits of beacon technology to let you know about this technology.
1. It helps in spotting and ushering the customers to your store:
Beacon technology can help retailers to send the notifications and greetings on special occasions and also help in sending offers available in the store to the shopper’s phone living in the nearby areas, of course, when the shoppers have the related application installed in their phones because that implies that the customers have already shopped in the respective stores once.
You should greet the customers and guide them towards the specific section of the store in which they are interested in. You must always keep the notifications simple and up to the point without annoying them.
2. Use beacon technology to know about their buying pattern:
Beacon technology can be used to integrate the customer data which will promote you to sell more. With the help of CRM, you can get detailed information about every transaction of a particular customer with the help of which, you can provide them with special coupons/discounts. You can aggregate data from an online purchase and the in-store at the same time.
For example, suppose your customer has selected any product and added to his wishlist but unfortunately, the product is currently not available in the stock. So, the CRM records the customer demand and when the product arrives, you can either send them an email or if the customer pass by, you can also notify them through the message about the arrival of the product.
3. Create better campaigns (offer discounts in real-time) for special customers:
One of the most important methods to flourish your business is when your loyal customers are taken proper care and the new customers keep on pouring in. For this, the retailers have to strive hard to supply and fulfill the needs of your customers continuously, of both the existing and the new customers. Planning for an additional special discount for special customers can help a lot in elevating retail sales.
Suppose that a customer has searched for home appliances from your online store but had not purchased anything and they are roaming around and you have the proper time to offer them with the best deals, so, with the help of the beacon technology, you can send them the notification to call them in.
4. Collect more information using the beacon with the help of the customer:
According to the research, around 40% of the customers seek for the best offers on their mobile phones while they are in the store. Businesses can include this to offer the best deals to their customers. Extracting data from the customer at the very less moment of time is a very big task but still you need to do it with all your effort the buying pattern, choice, browsing history, taste, feedback loop, customers complaints, etc. this process needs to be completed without disturbing the privacy of the customer and without annoying them. The more you know about the customer, the better you serve them.
The CRM consists of valuable information and the beacon technology helps in the ‘data revision’. Every single communication with the customer can help to enrich your data system which can help you in returning them with the best offers. You can also use it to help you to increase your app. The brilliance lies in using it effectively.
5. Get to know about the customer’s in-store experience:
The beacon technology along with the CRM can be used effectively in selling the concerning and only the items in which they are interested in. Beacon technology helps the customers to select the products of their interest which result in accelerating the process of purchasing from entry to exit.
The shopkeepers can get to know more about the section in which the customers used to spend much of their time along with the frequency of their visit to the store, purchase history, loyalty factor, and the use of coupons provided to them which can be used for future reference.
The beacon technology also helps the shopkeepers to feedback to the CRM along with the feedback received. This is one of the most important conditions if you are looking forward to building up a personalized customer-business relationship. You will get to know how much value a personalized customized message is when the competition becomes stiffer.
Pros. and Cons. of Beacon technology
Pros of Beacon Technology
Generate engagement between the customer and the business
Builds customer loyalty and trust
provides retailers with great opportunities for strategic personalization
They offer rewards to the customers that choose to interact.
Cons of Beacon Technology
Needs the Bluetooth connectivity to be turned on in customers devices.
Sometimes the customers get annoyed with a large number of push notifications.
How to install beacon technology
To install the beacon technology in your retail stores, follow the given steps:
1. Plot Beacons on the floor plan
You must start with the floor plan and mark the area where you want to install the beacon technology. An ideal plan must cover the entire area without leaving the dead zone in between.
2. Install the beacons
After plotting the beacons on the floor, install beacons on those locations. You can ask your friend to come with their smartphones and look for the dead zones if any.
3. Run the Trials
After the installation, your customer’s smartphones will start detecting the beacons and you will notice a spike of sales from the exclusive offers offered them through beacon technology.
You can program every beacon to provide different offers which will also help you in noticing the offers that are working for you.
Retailers must adapt some of the new upcoming technologies if they are willing to survive in the coming future stiffer competitions. Beacon technology provides a great platform for you to start your retail store.
Firstly, you must make sure that a large number of customers to download your mobile application. With the help of which, you can enable the Beacon technology all over your store which will help you to monitor their shopping behavior and their interests.
With the help of such information, you can use them to send the customers a personalized message at the relevant time which will help them to improve their shopping experience. Beacon technology can help you to target the potential customers nearby your store by enticing them to come in and purchase something from your store.
Beacon technology can help you to improve the customer profiles with the help of the collected information.
Beacon technology can also play a huge role in enhancing eCommerce stores without their physical stores. You just need to think outside the box and find suitable places to fix your beacons.
If you follow the tips stated above, you can generate more sales with the help of beacon technology.
Cryptocurrencies were relatively unknown by the general public until recently. While originally designed for use within the financial sector, this interesting digital asset is now entering into mainstream use. In fact, it is estimated that approximately five per cent of all consumers currently hold some type of cryptocurrency within their portfolios. It therefore makes perfect sense that online retail businesses are looking for ways in which they will be able to accept this form of payment in the not-so-distant future. In order to understand the impact that this change might have upon the marketplace, it is first important to appreciate the appeal of cryptocurrencies in general.
How Is Cryptocurrency Transforming Online Retail Marketplace?
All About the Available Technology
Currencies such as Ethereum and Bitcoin have been making digital waves in recent times, and for good reason. One of the main reasons why they are so appealing involves their decentralised nature. Their values are not controlled by any single bank or financial institution, but rather reflect the number of transactions taking place at any given time. Further, cryptocurrencies are an excellent way to anonymously pay for a good or service. This is not always the case with traditional methods such as credit cards. Considering the fact that instances of online data theft are on the rise, it is perfectly logical that cryptocurrencies represent interesting alternatives. This is the very same reason why a handful of cutting-edge ecommerce platforms are already implementing changes so that they will be able to accept this form of payment.
However, there is another reason why encrypted electronic payments could very well overtake credit card purchases within the next five years.
The Advent of Secure Mobile Transaction Gateways
We have already witnessed the rise of countless challenger Banks across the United Kingdom. Lower transaction fees, instantaneous account access and secure payment gateways are a few of the reasons associated with such a meteoric rise in popularity. The fact that the majority of challenger banks can be accessed solely via a smartphone app is another key point to highlight. The same holds true in regards to cryptocurrency transactions. These mobile-friendly currencies are excellent for those who have been looking for a one-touch sense of efficiency without being forced to compromise the integrity of their personal data.
Of course, e-commerce providers such as Shopify currently offer systems which are fully compatible with smartphones. It is therefore a foregone conclusión that cryptocurrencies should soon be featured as an alternative form of payment. It will also be interesting to see what types of dedicated applications will be made available in order to accommodate for this growing desire. While a handful already exist, the chances are high that such options will become more mainstream in the coming months and years.
The cryptocurrency market is here to stay. Online retailers are now beginning to realise the importance of this type of transaction and astute business owners should seriously consider adopting these methods sooner as opposed to later. The digital future of these virtual coins looks very bright indeed. Not long from now, we will witness the entrant of cryptos in the online retail marketplace. We can do nothing now but to eagerly await that to happen.
With the development of internet technologies, our life changed dramatically: gradually all people are getting involved in various social networks, blogs, chats, etc., and those have become their lifestyle, not just hobby or leisure. And, of course more and more people prefer online shopping instead of visiting any physical store. It happened for lots of reasons: shopping websites and marketplaces are constantly being upgraded with new options, functions, features as well as they are keeping high customer service, in some cases providing even more profitable deals and convenient services than many brick-and-mortar stores have to offer. That’s why now we can see changes in marketing approaches from a focus on classic channels – brick and web – to a new omni-channel mix: brick, web, mobile and social.
Omni-Channel retailing pyramid
Internet transfigured retail word in several waves: transferring services to the web; e-commerce introducing; search and comparison shopping engines and marketplaces is a third wave; mobile shopping is the currently developing onset. Under such circumstances, all brands and retailers need to be more flexible, efficient, should diversify their merchant channels, promote SEO campaigns, and improve analytics capabilities.
Multi-channel retailing was firstly offered in 1999 by Circuit City: buy online – pick up in-store policy. Nowadays, if Multi-channel strategies seek to connect all the available channels, Omni-Channel is a step forward: retailers not just offering various shopping ways but analyze and consider influence of sales and track customers across all channels, not just one or two (physical stores, Web and mobile shops, TV, mail catalogs); they are also using unique software to operate and synchronize the data between online and offline business.
Evolution of Multi-channel to Omni-Channel
Thus, Omni-channel marketing policy is a perfect way of constant innovations and sales growth for offline retailers as well, suggesting a solution for that: valuable software, mobile applications, QR codes, kiosks, social networks representation, online and mail catalogs, personal approach and unique offers, introduction of SoLoMoMe (social + local + mobile + personalized) marketing strategy and more. These measures should be aimed to turn prospects into real buyers or to improve customer experience like “site ->store ->door”; others (Staples, L.L. Bean, OfficeMax) prefer collaborating with the marketplaces like Amazon to put their merchandise to various showcases.
Omni-Channel – the next generation of online marketing: main constitutive elements.
Bright and fresh examples of such modern solutions are represented by iKantam, an e-commerce applications developer. Nomi, RapidBlue, Euclide Analytics, Prism Skylabs provide hi-tech software for in-store usage. They offer wi-fi for tracking the store traffic flow, sensors for recording store movement data, sensors forming heat maps based on time and zone, special applications for video cameras, etc. All similar measures are certainly going to contribute to market enrichment and business growing.
Omni-Channel approach is fully customer-oriented, thus, in addition it is necessary to implement “listening” strategies which could be: human or automated. The first means becoming an active member of corresponding virtual communities and searching out appropriate content there. The second means using high-end technologies and software which fulfill human functions and automatically search and listen to large amount of available social media data. This model is used to make correct conclusions about what do people feel about the company, what experience they got and what problems they met, as well as how many new consumers were attracted by the others.
Operating principle of Omni-Channel marketing
For instance, Macy’s uses targeted email offers based on users’ website browsing history. In addition, they have an opportunity now do keep track of current shopper’s location from mobile devices. If the customer left a store without a purchase made, then the store manager can mail them a coupon. If the customer is making a choice or is in doubt, then he can wait for a SMS promotion. All such measures require very fast response and constant monitoring the latest trends and market conditions.
Base stats of online market development for over the last year
Thus, Omni-channel market rapid development is caused by rise of mobile shoppers and constantly introduced innovations, so this trend is going to move further. In turn, Brick-and-mortar traders must expand their influence by adding new channels, optimizing their in-house and mobile services to satisfy as much information hungry and mobile empowered customers as possible.
Anything on your mind about Omni channel? Share them with us…
Few Things You Do Not Know About Online Retailing, that you need to know today!
This is one of the blessings of the internet. Before the advent network of computers, purchase transaction is only successful when the buyer and the vendor dialogue until recently when the internet came into existence.
Online retailing is an electronic commerce that allows consumers to directly purchase goods or services from a retailer or seller through the internet via the web browser. Other names it is called includes; e-store, e-shop, online store, virtual store, web-shop, web-store.
This practice saves consumer the fatigue of going to the brick building to make purchases. All he just need do is to go to the market online retail store, choose a variety of products, make payment with his credit card, and the products will be shipped to his residence within the shortest time possible. In online retail transactions, buyers doesn’t have to communicate with anybody to make a successful purchase and most of these online retailers open their store 24 hours 7days.
Qualities of a good online retail service
Web User Interface
The website interface is one of the most important determinants whether a customer will like to return to an online retailer’s portal to shop. The interface must be user friendly, the load time is very important, the lesser the load time, the interesting it will be for customers, product mustn’t be jam-packed, it will be very easy for customers to surf if it is arranged in categories. A site search bar is very important, bringing accurate result as fast as possible will yield a very good usability. More so, the page should look interesting in design, people love something beautiful.
A very good online retailer offers shopping search engine, after a product has been found, the website must have a program that could accumulate all products a consumer has chosen, calculate them and make readjustment should in case. Some good web stores allow customers to do a onetime sign up, and login to their account whenever they need to make a purchase, all information are already pre-loaded.
A good online retail store must have good payment and billing systems. Most of them commonly accept Credit cards or PayPal. Other allow alternative means, such as Billing to mobiles and landlines, Cash on delivery (C.O.D.), Cheque, Debit card, Electronic money, Gift cards, Postal money order, Wire transfer, Invoice etc. Some web store will not accept international credit cards; some will require billing address and shipping address to be in the same country where they operate.
Product delivery system
For digital media products such as software, images, movies and music, the delivery system is often by downloading, and it must be instant for a good online retailer, there should not be any delay.
Other consumer products are usually sent by shipping directly to the consumer’s address. A good online retail service must be able to tell the buyer the estimated time the product should arrive, and for it to continue to receive a good business review, no time should the time be bridged by a second.
Other delivery method includes; Drop shipping, Printing, Will Call etc.
A good online retail shop will have a good design structure that includes a wide variety of product customers can choose from with competitive pricing.
Shopping cart systems
This is a system whereby product is displayed for customers to view. Good online retailers will add a short review of product, its accessories, and alternative products with good pricing. The product display should be in nice graphics and attractive enough to fascinate the customer’s eye.
A good online retail web store is not just a good looking website have nice technical features and ranking top on most search engines. Most companies produce online stores that support their organization brand name and culture without considering customer’s interest. Understanding customer’s want and need is very crucial. Always standing to the company’s promises makes the customers want to come back again, meeting their expectations makes them stay.
Customer needs differs, age, gender, culture and experience are important factors.
These are few qualities of a good online retail service, feel free to make your contribution and add more qualities in the comment section below.