Josh Bunce, founder and CEO of the iuf Group, trusted by iconic global brands to capture and retain audience attention with creative AV solutions. A serial entrepreneur and investor, Josh is on a mission to create a new retail world using innovative, practical and sustainable technology.
Despite the twin pressures of the cost-of-living crisis and a looming recession, at a time when many in the retail sector are still recovering from the impact of the covid pandemic, it is important for every bricks-and-mortar business to invest in technology – but why?
Technology is the key to maximising the potential of every retail store and business, thanks to its ability to improve the customer experience (CX), generate brand loyalty and encourage further customer visits and spending, leading to greater customer understanding and ROI.
It may not be top of the priority list for high street businesses right now, who are simply trying to survive, but tech can help to make companies leaner with improved marketing techniques and customer loyalty and spending incentives.
How Can Technology Help Retail Businesses?
Technology enables businesses to be more efficient and agile, cutting costs and waste.
As customers experience targeted digital displays, they are likely to spend more during their time in-store which boosts company profits. As the displays can be changed quickly, stores can create in-the-moment promotions that are valid for customers at the right time – such as highlighting outdoor clothing and accessories on digital signs when the weather is bad one afternoon or by using an app to know when customers are in-store to send personalised special offers such as 40% off sportswear, to be used during that visit and encourage increased spontaneous spending.
The displays also save the business on running costs as they can be timed to run only when the store is busy, and they stop the need to print ads for each and every campaign anymore as you can simply change the digital display.
Using POS (point of sale) technology at till points, businesses can target products and brands at customers while they queue. Stores can promote new products, with said products placed strategically nearby to encourage take-up by customers while they queue, leading to more sales.
It’s so easy to shop online where shops are “open” 24-7 and the choice is vast – which is why businesses need to really work hard to convince customers to visit them in the flesh also. To entice customers to the store, the CX must be enjoyable enough that customers want to repeat their visit.
Investing in technology that enhances the in-store CX is a worthwhile investment – it warms customers to the business and strengthens brand loyalty.
Technology enables companies to interact with their customers in-store, via clever games or through various screens that request input – all designed to leave customers feeling happy and with a positive memory of their visit that ensures they return sometime soon. For example, Dr Martens bespoke ‘icon wall’ where we used place-and-learn technology to help the visitors learn more about the history of their favourite ‘icon’, the intricate manufacturing and how to style and care for it – all in an interactive way which helped with customer engagement and brand interaction.
Technology like self-checkout tills enables customers to shop at their own speed and pay for goods without long queues at the tills. For those who like the traditional way to pay, they can still checkout at the tills, but the self-serve tills provide greater choice to those in a hurry who just want to scan and go.
Better Customer Understanding
As technology is an efficient way to understand customers and how they shop, this data can be made to work hard for businesses by enabling personalised offers and discounts for customers as a result.
By making the technology personal, businesses build better relationships with customers and help to generate brand loyalty. Apps can send offers that are unique for each shopper, depending on what they’ve bought in the past, designed to encourage fast take-up and a feeling that the buyer is getting a good deal. The apps can also form part of a loyalty scheme that offers certain discounts when used by the customer in-store.
The data is also beneficial for making store changes. For example, heat tracking cameras highlight the busiest and quietest parts of the store and can be used to enhance product placement and to find ways to make the quieter areas more inviting for customers. Alternatively, analytical software that recognises facial features informs the store who is shopping and when, so stores can target digital content on screens that match the particular demographic shopping at the time.
Now is the best possible time to invest in technology as it will give retail businesses a much-needed boost to company efficiency, customer loyalty and in-store visits and sales.