In 2014 actual store visits declined by 14.6 percent and data suggests that those who did go to stores research their purchases heavily online first before visiting a brick and mortar location. In 2013 online orders increased 63% during the holiday season compared to the previous year, with 20% of holiday sales and 25% of Thanksgiving and Black Friday sales made on mobile devices.
So what do these stats mean?
They tell us that consumers are tech savvy and that they are researching, browsing and transacting while on the go, using the web to become experts on their purchases and no longer relying on merchants to provide them with product info. These stats also point to the increasing trend of retailers becoming more advanced and sophisticated in how they predict and manage inventory and integrate their physical, virtual and mobile selling or their omni-channel shopping services.
Here are 6 retail tech innovations that already and will continue to affect your business in 2015 and beyond:
1) Analytics are ever present and ever neededIt is no longer enough to say you have big data. It is now crucial to process, analyze and accurately understand this data to optimize operations, determine pricing anticipate demand and provide in-demand products and services. Data will be ever important to retailers and it will be important to have POS and CRM capabilities which allow you to mine this data, get reports which allow you to understand it and adapt a corporate ‘dataculture’ in which data is successfully used to make important decisions.
2) Mobility is crucial to not miss out on salesIf customers do not have a way to access your web-site, gift card and loyalty programs efficiently on their mobile device they will go elsewhere. It is thus important to have responsive websites for your corporation but also for your gift card and loyalty programs such as Givex’s Customer WebSuite. It will be important be mobile beyond an app on a phone – many retailers are adapting to mobile POS allowing them to line bust but also keep up with competitors who are already providing mobile POS services to their customers.
3) Showrooming is here to stay and you must adaptShowrooming – which describes when customers go to a store to browse a product and then make a sometimes lower-priced purchase online is ever-present. One way to combat this is to price-match. Other strategies include having employees equipped with mobile technology and up-to-date information which satisfies customer questions enough for them to buy on the spot. Using a loyalty program to prompt customers to buy with you with points and rewards can also lessen the affect of showrooming.
4) Use social media to your advantageIt is no longer enough to simply have a website. You must be where the consumers are and the consumers are on social media sites whether it be Facebook, Instagram or Yelp. You can get valuable customer feedback on social media as well as enable shopping through such innovations as Givex’s social gifting registry. Social media can also be used to publicize products and promotions to a targeted audience.
5) It is important to truly know your inventoryIt is no longer enough to order products without knowing how they are doing with your customers. Picking a POS such as Vexilor which allows you to see what products are outselling others and check on inventory at store or enterprise level is key.
6) Have a well crafted CRM strategyA friendly smile from a store employee is no longer enough. You need a well thought out customer relationship management strategy that reaches out to your customer and entices them to visit your locations again and again. Loyalty programs have been proven effective CRM tools not only in rewarding and creating customer loyalty but for the valuable data you can get from them. This data gives you an accurate picture of who your customers are and their preferences allowing you to further cater your customer service to support you CRM strategy.
Do not fall behind. If you are a retailer chances are that your competitors are already aware of the retail technology innovations we have discussed here and are acting on them. To stay competitive contact a professional POS, CRM services provider such as Givex who can walk you through the next steps in keeping up with the latest retail developments.