After the rise of online shopping, we witnessed visits to physical stores 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?
Those who are on the high street 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. Read on as we take a look at the importance of having in-store tech:
What’s available for retailers?
The retail industry experienced a shake up when brands were pushed to go online and develop their e-commerce channels, and now, most brands are on-board with this. 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 on consumer behaviour have discovered 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 (even if some products aren’t available in-store) and order them to their homes or local store.
Implementing technology in-store can improve your customer service offering. 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.
One technology that’s on the rise 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.
Growing visitor numbers
Although technology useful for those who enter the store, it can also help increase in-store visits and improve brand loyalty.
With in-store technology, brands can make themselves more attractive to customers. 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.
Having technology to use in the shop can also improve a customer’s experience and brand perception. One study revealed that 46% of those surveyed said that a positive experience due to well-functioning technology increases their brand confidence.
Be prepared for technical faults
We’re all more than aware that technology can fail at times and doesn’t always work how we would like it too. This can be frustrating and add time onto a customer’s visit which may result in a negative experience.
One study, conducted by RetailWeek, found 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.
Unfortunately, these types of negative 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.
Be aware that if technology is difficult to use, this 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.
We now know that 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.
Research for this article was carried out by QUIZ, maxi dresses retailer and owner of seven digital stores.