With e-commerce taking over the market providing ease of shopping and on-door deliveries, brick-and-mortar stores had a new challenge on their way. The offline retailers have to be innovative to enhance the in-store customer shopping experience. Moreover, customers becoming tech-savvy are like lifesavers for retailers, as it becomes easier for the latter to experiment with technology and sustain the interest of customers.
Here are four examples of innovative technologies that help retailers beat the challenge –
A smart mirror is used to encounter the challenge of long queues of the trial room. These mirrors are installed in the stores and contain full inventory details of the store. Also, the customers can use these mirrors to create their virtual avatars and try on clothes digitally. The technology allows retailers to display a large variety of product offerings with multiple colour and size options.
The Swedish multinational clothing-retail brand H&M, for example, has installed smart mirrors in its flagship store in Times Square, New York. Developed by Mircosoft and Swedish digital agencies Visual Art and Ombori, the smart mirror is integrated with technologies like voice and facial recognitions. The customers using voice command can take selfies which then get virtually integrated with the H&M catalogue. These images can then be downloaded to their mobile phones via QR codes. These smart mirrors can also provide outfit suggestions to the customers. The products could be ordered directly from the online shop using the QR code.
Long queues on checkout counters posed as another huge challenge for brick-and-mortar store shoppers. The advancement in technology created self-checkout kiosks, installed in the stores allowing customers to simply pay for the products and leave the store. This clearly eliminates the need for the customers to wait for their turn to pay, in turn reducing the long queues on the checkout counters.
Zara implemented such kiosks in its stores located on Oxford Street, England. The users need to scan the barcode of the garments by bringing them close to the kiosk. On detecting the barcode, the image and price of the garment would immediately appear on the screen, which would then guide the users through the entire process. The payment could be made by swiping the card through the machines. Moreover, there are bags on the side of the machines which can be then used to take the garment along.
Beacon uses Bluetooth technology of the mobile phones to transmit information. On establishing a connection with the customer’s mobile phone, the technology alerts the customers of targeted notification and offers. Moreover, the retailers can pass on personalised offers to the customers, improving their in-store shopping experience.
One of the best use cases of the technology is Nordstrom who is using the technology to establish a connection with their shoppers and provide them tailored experiences. The customers having beacon-enabled mobile app are notified when the products in their shopping bags are back in stock. It also shows the online option to the in-store shoppers and gives them product recommendations.
Robots as customer representatives
Customer service robots are used to interact with customers today. Available in humanoid and non-humanoid forms, these are capable of automating most basic tasks in customer service, delivering labor savings, efficiency, and uptime. These robots are used to assist customers in product discovery in the store. These can also record customer data during face to face interaction for offering personalised recommendations and offerings based on their purchase history.
Zara is one such brand that is using Cleveron robots for processing the online orders in-store. The customers using the Cleveron machines mounted inside the store can pick-up their order without any human intervention. All they have to do is enter the code that they receive on their phones and the machine processes it to deliver the right order to the customer.