Innovative Retail Technologies

JUL-AUG 2017

Innovative Retail Technologies (formerly Integrated Solutions For Retailers) is the premier source for innovative yet pragmatic technology solutions in the retail industry.

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How Mobile Technology Is Changing The Customer Experience F rom the boardroom to the stock- room, the two most commonly heard words in retail are "mobile" and "om- ni-channel." Oddly enough, these are also probably the two most loosely defined terms and highly active interdependent initiatives in today's retail environment. When retailers hear the term "mobile," many immediately think of a consumer-fac- ing mobile application, while others may think of mobile payments such as Apple Pay and Samsung Pay, and others refer- ence mobile POS or a mobile workbench to streamline store associate tasks by providing real-time customer and product information. The common thread among these mobile initiatives is that they are all focused on improving the experience throughout the customer journey. Customer Identification Boston Retail Partner's (BRP) recent POS/ Customer Engagement Survey identified several data points that illustrate retailers' commitments to the use of mobile tech- nology as the cornerstone of a positive customer experience both now and in the future. Identifying the customer and then delivering a personalized experience are identified as among this year's top priorities by 70 percent of the respondents. Customer identification is a foundational element of the customer journey, as it enables store associates to leverage real-time visibility to inventory and purchase history to make per- sonalized recommendations and reference the customer's available loyalty and rewards points. Most importantly, mobile technology enables identification of customers prior to the checkout, sometimes even before they enter the store, to enable associates to assist and influence purchase decisions. For years, retailers have accepted iden- tification of the customer at the checkout as a reasonable practice. However, savvy retailers now leverage mobile applications, Wi-Fi, geolocation, and beacon technology to identify customers when they are near or just entering their stores. They also leverage mobile technology to entice customers into the store by offering personalized promotions and services. This technology is becom- ing commonplace in malls, shopping plazas, restau- rants, convenience stores, and drugstores. Additionally, there are opportunities to guide customers to areas of the store that should be of interest to them based on their preferences, pur- chase history, and environmental factors such as weather and store location. As an example, if a customer normally shops at a store in the Northeast but is in Florida, the software may assume they are on vacation and offer them a coupon target- ing relevant merchandise. This level of customer experience is quickly moving from an advanced application to a basic customer expectation. Customer retention will become increasingly challenging for retailers that do not plan to meet this level of personalized service. Customer Engagement Store associates have utilized mobile tools and technology for inventory tracking and movement for nearly two decades. However, the use of mobile technology to improve the customer journey is relatively new to retail. This is very apparent when we look at data from this year's POS/Customer Engagement Survey that indicates only 13 percent of retailers believe their mobile customer engagement solutions for associ- ates are working well. A much larger group of retailers (36 percent) utilizing these applications feels they need improvement. Mobile customer engagement is still an emerging area that needs refinement. Even more telling, there is a large group of retailers (31 percent) looking to imple- ment mobile tools for customer engage- ment in the next 12 months. This increased rate of adoption is driven by several factors, including the declining price of mobile The long-term success of retailers will be based on their ability to make shopping enjoyable, frictionless, and aligned with their customers' expectations. BY PERRY KRAMER I VP AND PRACTICE LEAD BOSTON RETAIL PARTNERS (BRP) Jul-Aug 2017 28 What's Next

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