Today, all of us recognize and appreciate the potential of the e-commerce market and how this industry is giving a run for money to the traditional Brick and Mortar stores. Being online gives retailer the ability to have an endless aisle. Where a traditional retailer can only have so many products stacked up in his aisles, an online store can add a seemingly endless number of products to his online catalogue with not much of additional investment. Overall, online retailers seem to have an upper hand with the help of technology.
But does that necessarily mean that your traditional Brick and Mortar retailer will become obsolete in the near future or e-Retailers will eventually replace all physical stores?
Technology also gives scope for traditional retailers to take advantage in their own specific ways to better engage customers, increase customer loyalty and hence increase sales and be relevant to the millennial crowd.
Customers can now virtually engage with the stores with the use of an app (installed on their smartphone or a tablet issued by the store or in one of the in-store utilities). These apps can help improve user experience and increase sales by:
Intuitive Registration: Managing the globalization of the brand – efficiently, is a challenge to most organizations. Technology can help them break the barriers of language and culture and allow the sales associate (SA), inside the store to focus on sales rather than peripheral activities surrounding user registration and other mundane tasks.
A Customer’s registration App in a language of his or her choice along with alerts and error messages will ensure that registration process is intuitive and can be performed by the customer himself. The SA can focus on what he is best at – and that is to sell.
The App can also assist the store count the number of foot falls at their store and also track returning customers. This app (if installed on the customer’s phone/ tablet) can also help send customized notifications to customers on discounts/ festival offers and new arrivals.
Upsell and Cross Sell: The point of Sales Application can provide the SA with critical information on the customer behaviour and also information on cross sell and upsell items that he can propose to the customer at the counter. It can also provide Store manager with intelligent information to increase sales. For ex. based on the customer actions historically; the app could assist the manager to help him decide on a flash discount valid for a limited period specifically customized to suit the customers’ need.
Endless aisle and store catalogue: It is not always possible to have all the brand products for display within a store. Technology can help here. An application which can scan a bar code/ QR code of an item can help the customer to view the available variants, colours, sizes.
It can help the SA to identify how much quantity is in stock along with description of the product, info on the availability of an item on-line or in other stores in case it is unavailable in the current store
Smart-cart: Consider a hyper-market; customer will normally walk into to the departmental store which is more familiar to him/her.
Now consider a smart app attached to the cart that is voice enabled. Customer can interact with this app / cart and get a personalized shopping experience. This app can act as a personal shopping assistant to the customer to
- Locate a product – Which isle? Which row?
- Offers: Inform on alternate products and deals
- Wish list – list the items that the customer may want to buy, based on his purchase history
- Customised offers – to display special offers for privileged customers
- Client Advisor lookup – CA to reach customer based on customer location in store
- Purchase History– Customer can view the history of his earlier cart / basket
Personalization of products: Giving the customer options to customize the products to their taste either via apps or via PoS is another way to attract customers. Customers would want their names or initials on wallets or other merchandise of their choice. The store should be able to pass on this information to the factory or the appropriate manufacturer.
Continuity in my next blog