Credit: Getty Images by Busakorn Pongparnit
If you were to sit and watch a video of your customers browsing your store, you would undoubtedly see a mix of those who know exactly what they want and can intuitively find it, combined with a sea of shoppers baffled by the array of products offered.
Shopping is meant to be a comfortable and seamless process. However, with the rise of large retail centers, intuitive facility use has been largely left by the wayside. The good news is that plenty of solutions are at hand to improve the shopping experience. Instead of relying solely on asking for assistance, these tools can enhance in-store navigation and make the shopping experience more interactive and informative. Let’s dive into what these tools are.
Indoor Positioning Systems (IPS)
IPS utilize location technologies like Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, or RFID to track customers’ locations within a store. The main difficulty here for retailers is properly establishing a reliable infrastructure with any of the location technologies mentioned above.
One successful example comes from Target, which made the decision to adopt Bluetooth-enabled lighting systems across multiple store locations. By combining this with the Target app on their smartphones while shopping in-store, customers could access a detailed map to assist them in locating their position within the store and find desired items.
It’s even possible for the IPS to track where shoppers are and offer them targeted suggestions on products and deals on their smartphones, improving the potential for conversions.
This has arguably become the biggest tool in the armory of the retailer trying to improve the customer experience. Augmented reality (AR) provides interactive experiences by using computer-generated images to mimic real-world objects. If someone’s looking for the perfect pair of shoes to complete a new look, they can point the camera at their feet to visualize how they will look. According to TCS, six in 10 millennials are more inclined to spend money with a retailer that offers virtual fitting rooms.
Additionally, 76 percent of consumers expect AR to be a practical tool in their daily lives by 2025. Plenty of retailers have already incorporated AR into their apps. For example, Ikea’s AR shopping app allows product visualization in the form of images of the retailer’s furniture in the user’s room at home. Meanwhile, L’Oreal has used AR in its app to enable consumers to try on makeup without actually applying it to their faces.
Smart Screens and Automation
The concept of static signs in stores already feels like it has become antiquated. Now, dynamic digital signs and interactive displays for customers can highlight promotional content and even recommendations dependent on the particular demographics of the store. Kroger recently deployed 500 smart screens in its U.S. stores, allowing customers to make informed decisions based on their preferences, diets, health requirements, and even matching brands with this data.
Lastly, automation can aid shoppers’ experiences with solutions such as RFID or QR code scanners. Shoppers can scan tags in fitting rooms and instantly get product details, such as available colors or similar options. It also means that retailers can use RFID and QR codes to help identify and track items for real-time inventory checks.
It’s important to be aware that not all of these solutions will be achievable. Retailers will need to prioritize which are best suited to adopt in their stores. Furthermore, piloting a technology is a great way to test it out before scaling it across multiple stores. It helps retailers gather the potential impact and feedback of a particular system from employees and customers before deciding if it’s worth pursuing.
For instance, Ikea ran multiple pilots at its warehouses with a number of vendors before scaling the usage of drones for inventory management. Such pilots help assess the real-world impact of the technology within a controlled environment and gather valuable feedback from employees and customers.
Sajid Mohamedy is executive vice president of growth and delivery at Nisum, a technology consulting partner that designs and builds custom digital commerce platforms to power enterprises large and small.
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