Taking your product to the customer may be more important than ever. It started with food trucks, and now at least one fashion boutique is getting in on the trend. With new developments for mobile payments, businesses can use smartphones to process sales. Applications are flexible, and the devices are extremely affordable, making it an attractive option for small businesses.
One major grocery chain is turning its stores “hyperlocal,” allowing each location to adjust products, prices and promotions according to neighborhood demand and needs. This “hyperlocal” business strategy is a return to retailing as it was 50 to 70 years ago: paying attention to each store’s customers and stocking the products that appeal to them.
Online shopping is revolutionizing brick-and-mortar stores, and smart retailers will imitate digital channels as they go forward. More stores are embracing ways for consumers to use their smartphones as well as digital displays to give consumers a more interactive experience. But many retailers don’t have the infrastructure in place and will need to upgrade to embrace this new trend.
As fuel prices continue to rise, consumers will look for other ways to save money when they travel, according to a recent national survey. Drivers will not only travel less, but also plan to spend less on accommodations, eating out and shopping, according to an article on USAToday.com. To counter the rising gas prices, the travel industry will offer more deals and incentives to appeal to travelers.
Long lines could be costing retailers customers. A recent survey found that about 40 percent of smartphone users won’t complete their purchases if the line is too long. But enterprise resource planning systems can help stores track their inventory and shoppers’ volume patterns to better staff busy stores, leading to shorter lines at the registers.
New smartphone credit card readers make it easier and faster for retailers to accept payments, simply by plugging in a small credit card reader. It’s a crucial part of the e-commerce trend, and an application that will be very attractive, not only with small businesses, but also major retailers. A major bonus: It’s also PCI compliant.
Social media may not generate major sales for retailers, but it can offer opportunities to engage consumers and enhance their overall shopping experience, according to a new article in Forbes. This can fuel interest in a brand or product. New social media platforms are making it easier for retailers to learn from and market to key consumers.
Mobile technology may be defining the modern face of retail, but face-to-face customer service still matters. A recent Wall Street Journal article cited a 2009 study that found most people avoided going into stores so they wouldn’t have to deal with bad customer service. Customers still expect great customer service, and it’s crucial to a retailer’s success.
A recent survey found that most consumers know what they want to purchase before they enter the store. Retailers must embrace mobile technology to communicate with this new generation of shoppers. Mobile technology enhances the whole shopping experience, from creating a shopping list, to the in-store experience through the “post-purchase conversation,” according to an article in Progressive Grocer.
Social media is about talking with your friends and sharing pictures. What social media is not about is shopping and several retailers are learning this the hard way. Last year, a major video game retailer opened a store on the biggest social network. According to Bloomberg, the retailer boasted 3.5 million fans. “Six months later, the store was quietly shuttered.”
The traditional store model could take on a whole new look soon as retailers try out new technologies. Fierce price competition is leading some retailers to find ways to attract shoppers without having to advertise a big sale. One retailer has rolled out a program that allows sales clerks to ring up transactions from mobile devices, while another is testing touch-screen kiosks.
Randy Misener, Editor-at-Large
Randy Misener is the Industry Executive responsible for Enterprise Retail Management solutions at Avanade. Majority owned by Accenture, Avanade was founded in 2000 by Accenture LLP and Microsoft Corporation and has approximately 15,000 professionals in more than 20 countries.