To win sales and satisfy today’s shoppers, the retail store must adapt and change. Associates need new capabilities and skillsets. Fulfillment systems need to be more flexible and more efficient. And technology must enable the kinds of in-store and supply chain innovations that keep customers coming back time after time. Retailers might be a bit overwhelmed. How do you adopt an intelligent store strategy that incorporates modern consumer demands, associates, changing technology, and the store itself? Here are five practical ways merchants of any size can raise their store’s IQ in 2019.
1. Add line busting
According to a survey from TimeTrade, the average consumer won’t wait more than 10 minutes to pay for items. Make them wait any longer, and they’ll go to another merchant that offers the same products — or they’ll shop online.
Line busting and other mobile transaction services are smart ways businesses can meet customers’ expectations of a frictionless in-store checkout experience while utilizing the advantages of investment in in-store wireless networks.
A study conducted by Stratix in partnership with IHL Group found that retailers that deployed in-store mobile point of sale (mPOS) experienced as much as 146% sales growth.
mPOS generally, and line busting specifically, has the potential to improve operational efficiency, also, assuming employees are properly trained and supporting processes are put in place. For example, to the latter point, clothing retailers should provide mPOS-outfitted associates with portable safety tag removal devices to complete a decentralized transaction. mPOS systems increase the tasks an associate can perform (e.g., from cashier-only tasks to sales and customer service). mPOS also enables associates to complete certain tasks more efficiently. For instance, line busting in a restaurant venue allows staff to reduce trips between customers’ tables and a centralized POS system.
2. Implement BOPIS
A good omnichannel retailer is there for its customers whether they’re buying in the store, on their computer, or even on their mobile device, and it allows people to smoothly move from one channel to the next as they go about their shopping journey.
One way of giving your customers a better omnichannel experience is by offering BOPIS (buy online pick up in store) services. A study by Signifyd of 250 retail decision makers found that 44% viewed BOPIS as a competitive imperative. Another 38% said BOPIS was key to bringing shoppers into the store, where they make additional purchases.
Many big-name retailers like Best Buy, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Walmart, and Nordstrom, have been implementing such services for quite some time now, and have gotten great results. And the good news is, small and midsize retailers can offer BOPIS and get good results, too. For a nominal investment, a small merchant can set up an online store and add a web-based ecommerce platform (e.g., Shopify, Vend, WooCommerce) that includes BOPIS functionality.
Then, a customer who sees an enticing new item on your website or Instagram page doesn’t have to wait until they’re at your store to purchase it. With the right online and mobile ordering systems, you can let them complete the purchase from where they are.
For a QSR merchant offering BOPIS, a customer who suddenly gets a craving for your food products won’t have to go to the trouble of swinging by your store and waiting for their purchases. They can place an order online, and either have it delivered, or they can pick it up when it’s ready.
Customers who pick up their orders in the store often end up buying more items once they get to the store. For example, Macy’s told MediaPost that BOPIS shoppers almost always end up buying other things, and on average spend up to 125% of their original order.
3. Deploy self-service kiosks
Point-of-service is where the intelligent store really shines. The shopping experience can be enhanced with a high-touch option that keeps customers coming back. Staff can spend more time helping shoppers who need assistance, increasing both customer satisfaction and basket size. Self-service kiosks ease store navigation, promote the in-store “endless aisle” concept and bring Web delivery alternatives to in-store shoppers.
According to a 2018 PYMNTS Kiosk and Retail Report, consumers spend 30% more when they order through self-service kiosks, meaning that using kiosks can automatically boost a business’ bottom line. Léa French Street Food in Illinois, for example, found that kiosks encouraged customers to customize their orders. As a result, the restaurant noticed that orders at the kiosk had much higher check sizes than counter orders. For example, orders through the kiosk had an average check size of $17.17, while orders at the counter had an average check size of $9.79.
Plus, unlike traditional customer interactions, self-service kiosks can reveal insights that would otherwise remain unknowable. For example, someone might sign in to enter their personal information, thereby allowing stores to instantly capture demographic information that they can use in their marketing campaigns. Additionally, while using a kiosk to browse through what’s in stock, the kiosk can capture vital metrics such as time spent browsing through product listings and popular search terms.
In-store kiosks give bricks-and-mortar retailers access to the same sort of actionable data that ecommerce does, thereby allowing them to determine which marketing strategies and messages are most effective and which products are most popular. And, studies show that customers provide more honest and reliable feedback at the kiosk as opposed to when they’re asked for information by a sales representative.
4. Implement cloud-based printers
Think about all the data your receipt printer produces every day: detailed information about the products and services customers are buying as well as key data points about each customer such as day and time of purchase, purchase amount, the last four digits of their credit/debit card and much more.
By using cloud-enabled printers (and compatible software), retailers can capture those valuable data streams and turn it into actionable information that leads to better loyalty programs; customized surveys, coupons and bundled sales offerings; and a variety of new services that increase customer engagement.
5. Make your data work for you
Mining Big Data and using AI-powered assistants used to be reserved for large enterprises only, but that’s not the case anymore. Even small retailers can leverage analytics services like Data Studio, which is Google’s free data visualization and reporting product. Data Studio is part of Google Marketing Platform and tightly integrated with Google Cloud, allowing users to access data from Google Analytics, Google Ads, Display & Video 360, Search Ads 360, YouTube Analytics, Google Sheets, Google BigQuery and more than 500 other data sources (Google and non-Google), to visualize and interactively explore data. Beyond just sharing data insights, Data Studio offers real-time collaboration.
As a store owner, this means you no longer have to manually sift through website logs to determine which products are going to be popular next season or where you should advertise — Google Analytics’ Automated Insights can do that for you.
Similar technologies are also available for brick-and-mortar stores. Consider Dott, an AI-powered retail assistant from Vend that gives you personalized advice based on your POS data. Dott learns about your business by understanding how you use the Vend platform and by analyzing sales, product, customer and inventory information in real-time. It then makes personalized suggestions on what you should do next to grow your business.
These AI technologies can save you time and remove the guesswork out of decision-making. That’s why if you haven’t done so yet, spend some time in 2019 looking into AI and figuring out if and how it can help your business.
As you navigate the 2019 NRF Big Show looking for new technologies and services to help you grow your business this year, keep the topics mentioned above top of mind. Keep in mind, too, that
Epson is dedicated to helping retailers develop more intelligent stores by delivering the latest technologies required to address changing customer behaviors. Stop by our booth (3455) or Epson.com to learn more.