With more stores taking the leap to online ecommerce; we’re seeing the visits to physical stores decline. 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?
With online usage on the rise, physical stores now have the opportunity to make a more interactive experience for the customer; through in-store technology.
Teaming up with with QUIZ, going out dresses retailer and owner of seven digital-led stores across the UK, we take a look at the importance of having in-store tech:
What in-store technology pieces are available?
As we continue with astonishing technical advancements; more brands are picking up the in-store tech opportunities. 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?
Kiosks are becoming more popular in retail stores too, especially those that are powered by artificial intelligence. 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.
Not only that, consumers can expect greater expertise from retail staff as in-store tech can help develop their knowledge on a range of products. 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.
Have you heard of the revolutionary 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.
Believe it or not, in-store technology solutions can help a business increase their visits and heighten brand loyalty.
As well as this, implementing new technology can also make your store 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.
If you’re keeping up with the times, this can also put a positive spin on how you’re perceived by your customers. One study revealed that 46% of those surveyed said that a positive experience due to well-functioning technology increases their brand confidence.
The downsides of tech
Technology can be tedious at times. This can be frustrating and add time onto a customer’s visit which may result in a negative experience.
According to research discovered by RetailWeek, two thirds of retail businesses have experienced problems with in-store technology. Unfortunately, this then affects sales — one third of customers said that they were unable to complete their transactions because of the technology difficulties.
If this occurs, customers could potentially leave the store and never return. Retailers must keep software and technologies updates and well-maintained to avoid issues like this.
Sometimes, customers can find it difficult to operate technology which could reduce the number of people becoming 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.
Implementing technology in store has never been 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.