Since the smartphone craze set in, showrooming – browsing in-store and then buying online – has become a major issue for many retailers. Some stores responded by trying to fight consumers’ use of digital devices while shopping. To keep consumers engaged in 2014, retailers should strive to incorporate digital technology into their retail strategy – providing an experience that customers will find more valuable and entertaining than online shopping.
The good news is that while the need to implement some form of digital technology is skyrocketing, the cost remains the same – even for small to medium-sized businesses. Because businesses can choose how much or how little digital elements they implement in their store, a digital retail strategy is only as expensive as they want it to be. In that way, digital retail levels the playing field across stores of all sizes.
This technology is not meant to replace your existing system, but to supplement it and make it more effective. Many modern retail POS providers offer kiosks, touch screen monitors and mobile POS applications that can be used to kick start your digital retail strategy.
There are two kinds of digital technology that can contribute to your overall digital retail strategy: technology that assists retailers in making sales and technology that assists customers while shopping.
Digital retail in the form of technology that assists the retailer, such as mobile POS, benefits your business in every area. Mobile POS devices and smartphone apps allow retailers to bust lines and boost productivity. These technologies streamline operations so that your employees are able to check out customers quickly and make more sales, while also providing better service to customers and enhancing their shopping experience.
Here’s how today’s top retailers are incorporating digital retail strategy. While not every brick-and-mortar store can afford a digital makeover, these examples can serve as inspiration for more cost-effective ideas.
Department stores Nordstrom’s and J.C. Penney use mobile checkout apps to move from the cash register to the aisles to complete orders on a smart phone or tablet. Luxury department store Neiman Marcus uses mobile apps showing Microsoft CRM customer data to create a shopping experience tailored to their customers’ exact needs.
Digital technology can assist your customers by entertaining and informing them, thus enhancing their shopping experience and allowing them to make a more educated purchase. With digital displays and smartphone integration, customers can gain an advanced understanding of your products and engage with your brand.
Today’s leading retailers are doing this in three ways:
1. Allow self-checkout – Self-checkout allows customers to get in and get out in their preferred amount of time. For example, Home Depot allows customers to check out using their mobile number and a corresponding PayPal security code.
2. Entertain customers – Leading retailers are accomplishing this by engaging the five senses: showing brand-related digital signage, playing sound or music that enhances their experience and providing as many interactive touch screens as possible. For example, Old Navy uses music recognition app Shazam to provide deals, styling tips and videos based on the music playing in the store.
3. Integrate social media – Allowing customers to engage with your brand through their preferred social medium will help make your brick-and-mortar store a part of their digital world. For example, fashion retailer C&A displays the number of social likes a product has received on its hanger. Other leading retailers allow shoppers to upload or send photos of themselves while in the dressing room.
Incorporating some form of digital retail strategy in your brick-and-mortar store is imperative, even if you choose to do so in a cost-effective manner. How will you implement digital elements in 2014?