The Best Retail Technology to Help Handle the Holiday Rush
The holiday shopping season is right around the corner, and while customers may be returning to brick-and-mortar stores in greater numbers in 2021 than in 2020, the workforce isn’t returning at the same rate. Retailers are facing the challenge of handling an increase in customer visits with limited staff due to labor shortages.
As a result, many retailers are turning to technology solutions to automate or assist with tasks and activities that traditionally have been handled by sales associates. The right tech can help you do more with fewer people while still providing the level of service and quality experiences your customers expect. Here are three of the best retail technology solutions that are growing in popularity as retailers look for ways to handle the labor shortage.
Mobilize Your Workforce
Utilizing mobile devices such as tablets and smartphones as part of your point of sale (POS) infrastructure will increase the efficiency of sales associates and retail operations.
- Mobile POS can improve customer engagement. Store associates armed with smartphones or tablets on the retail floor can more effectively answer customer questions about product specifications. They can also look up inventory or check availability of products at other locations for multi-store enterprises. And they will be able to check out customers from anywhere on the retail floor, at any time, maximizing convenience.
- Mobile POS enables greater customer service. Line busting to reduce customer wait times at checkout goes a long way toward increasing customer satisfaction. According to the 2019 Consumer Retail Technology Survey by global consultancy A.T. Kearney, 72% of the consumers surveyed ranked technology that reduces time spent checking out as one of their most desired in-store features. Sales associates can use mobile devices to set up temporary checkout stations to handle peak times with higher customer volume. They can also set up a returns desk with tablets to handle the influx of post-holiday customers returning or exchanging gifts. Line busting improves not only customer satisfaction but also throughput, which is critical for stores that have occupancy level limits.
- Mobile POS benefits employees, too. The widespread use of personal mobile devices means that most workers are thoroughly familiar and comfortable with using them, so onboarding and training should be easier (and getting up to speed quickly might be especially important for seasonal hires). And when employees are given the tools they need to do their jobs most effectively, job satisfaction increases, potentially reducing turnover rates. The best retail technologies benefit everyone involved.
Self-service has long been gaining traction everywhere, from airport check-ins and gas stations to movie ticket sales and grocery stores. A global research project found that 40% of consumers prefer self-service to human contact. Also self-checkout solutions are one of the best retail technologies to not only combat labor shortages but also reduce labor and space costs. A single employee can oversee and assist customers with several self-checkout stations (which also take up less real estate than the same number of individually staffed stations).
Self-checkout can offer quicker checkout times than going through a traditional cashier (especially when only a few cashiers are available), which means less wait time in line. Having to stand around too long waiting to complete their purchases can cause customers to have a poor opinion of how the business is run, and frustration can cause them to abandon their intended purchases rather than waiting.
Self-checkout also enables customers to practice more effective social distancing. They can check out without having to interact with a cashier. In the wake of the pandemic, many shoppers will feel more at ease if they know this contactless option is available.
Kiosks are one of the best retail technologies because they free up your employees from routine tasks to perform other duties, such as restocking shelves or cleaning. It can also increase profits through reliable upselling and cross-selling. A human might forget to ask if the customer would like to add an extended warranty or related accessory, especially when feeling stressed or overwhelmed by long lines of waiting customers; but the kiosk always remembers. And these strategies are vital to profitability: in 2015, Forbes reported that Amazon attributed up to 35% of its revenue to cross-selling.
Implementation of kiosks on the retail floor also enables customers to interact with technology. Common applications include:
- Checking prices on items;
- Locating products on the store floor;
- Looking for item availability at other locations;
- Checking balances on gift cards or in loyalty rewards programs.
When you are short-staffed, the more customers can do for themselves, the better. Kiosks can also visually engage shoppers with ads for featured products or special deals, and offer coupons or discounts.
Make the Most of the Holiday Season
The lasting effects of the pandemic have left retailers struggling to appropriately staff their stores for the holiday rush. Many are turning to technology to take some of the burdens off of their limited workforce. Choosing the best retail technology solutions starts with choosing the right provider. You want a provider with industry knowledge and experience as well as reliable customer support.
Touch Dynamic has been creating innovative tech solutions for twenty years, backed by a dedicated support staff. To find out how we can help you make the most of your labor resources through the holiday season and beyond, contact us today.