More than ever, technology plays an integral role in retail success. The systems, software, and platforms a retailer decides to employ can make the difference between a thriving enterprise and a failed business. That’s why it so important to know which technology is legitimate and which is merely hot air.
No one can claim to know for sure which trends will be the next big thing, and it’s good to stay away from those reading from a crystal ball. That said, it’s always smart to look at recent consumer behavior, which typically indicates how you should adjust your technology strategy.
Because of the pandemic, consumers are doing more pre-purchase research to minimize how much time they spend in actual stores. To adapt, make sure that all of your products have an online presence. Yes, it’s obvious to say you need an e-commerce option (that’s been the case since the very late 20th century), but many retailers still don’t list everything that’s on their physical shelves, which can cause many missed sales. Be sure to integrate your POS system with Google, and especially Google Maps – doing so automatically provides up-to-the-minute inventory to customers.
But a POS system connected to Google isn’t enough. You need a full-fledged retail ecosystem – one that can easily adjust to new technologies as you need them, to adapt to shifting customer behaviors and demands.
No matter which technologies you deploy, automation is the name of the game these days. It makes life easier for both you and your customers. By using IoT (Internet of Things) technology, you can create subscriptions for certain products, which automates the buying process for goods consumers buy on a regular basis.
You can also automate your marketing campaigns to promote those products. By first collecting precise customer information, you can send messages with personalized offers based on purchase history and behaviors. For example, you can target those who haven’t bought anything for a certain time period (say, 3 months), or you can target regular shoppers with new product possibilities that align with their tastes.
On that note, if you haven’t done so already, we urge you to offer contactless payments. Of course, this isn’t a new purchase method by any stretch, but the global COVID crisis made contactless payments a necessity – and this greatly sped up its adoption. Currently, nearly 50% of consumers around the world have switched to credit cards that offer these types of payments. Now is the to time to ensure that your POS systems accept contactless.
Like contactless payments, Artificial Intelligence (AI) has been around for years. But many retailers still aren’t using AI to it maximum potential – or even using it all. AI is extremely powerful, enabling you to anticipate consumer trends and be more efficient with decision-making. Take advantage of AI by integrating an analytics platform into your systems, such as Google Analytics.
Ultimately, retail success means getting the order to the customer as quickly as possible, with no snags in the process. That’s where your order management and fulfillment platforms come in. But speed in itself isn’t the winning formula – you must provide all of the options a customer may demand. Be sure to offer same day delivery, next day delivery, as well as in-store and curbside pickup options.
Be sure that your inventory management and order fulfillment platform enables these options. To do so, move to a single, integrated platform that manages sales across in-store and online channels.
When you choose the right technology, you make the shopping experience easier for your customers. It’s about what’s best for them rather than what’s best for you. Also consider what may be preventing sales and how you can eliminate those weak spots.
When you focus on those issues, the technology questions will be a lot easier to answer.