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How to attract more customers using digital transformation technology in retail stores

Grocery stores are getting all the headlines currently, but frictionless shopping and a huge range of other in-store technologies are being adopted in multiple sectors to enhance the physical shopping experience. Frictionless shopping and boosting the customer experience in-store are acting as a catalyst for the whole of the retail industry to start taking the digital transformation of their businesses seriously.

This way of shopping is already moving into the apparel space with the likes of retailers like Amazon rolling out their own line of fashion stores called Amazon Style. Using the Amazon Shopping app, customers can send items to a fitting room, where they can use a touchscreen to browse more options, rate items and request more sizes or styles that are delivered directly to their room within minutes. Alternatively, they can send it directly to the pickup counter for instant purchasing. Machine learning algorithms produce personalized, real-time recommendations for each customer as they shop.

Weekday, the H&M Group’s streetwear brand in Copenhagen also aims to enhance the way we buy, with their ‘store to door’ deliveries service. Using the app, customers can browse the up-to-date inventory at their local Weekday store, place an order and have it delivered within three hours, free of charge. All deliveries are made by bicycle and guaranteed to arrive within the allotted time frame. The customer can also use the app when shopping in-store and use the self-checkout option. Some amazing solutions are helping UK retailers to recreate the same experience such as Kibo Commerce and LineTen.

Self-checkouts underpinned by technology to enhance the customer experience are clearly in demand among retailers. According to the global self-checkout system market was estimated at $3.1 billion in 2020 and is expected to reach $5.9 billion by 2026. It’ll be interesting to see how other convenience outlets embrace this technology, such as coffee shops and sandwich shops. There is undoubtedly going to be huge growth in quick convenience over the next couple of years and soon it will become the norm to walk in and out of a store in seconds, with no queues or POS.

Frictionless customer experiences

Many shoppers want a contactless and autonomous customer journey in-store and mobile payments will continue to increase over 2022 as more retail businesses accept these types of transactions at checkout.

David Grenham from MishiPay said “MishiPay has seen a 7x increase in transactions in the last 12 months as shoppers seek contactless, frictionless shopping solutions. The real challenge is making this a seamless and simple process. Nobody is going to want dozens of apps on their phone to use at different retailers. The key is having one app that can facilitate a frictionless shopping experience in multiple stores - which is where MishiPay comes in. Shoppers can use our technology by simply scanning a QR code - there's no need to download an application. Users can make a purchase in less than 20 seconds and we see them instantly understand the value this offers them as they are able to bypass any lines in the store. After making their first purchase we see users choose to move to the native app, avoiding multiple downloads at other retailers or restrictions through app stores. This gives buyers more choice as they can use the MishiPay app at multiple retailers as opposed to downloading new ones whenever they choose to shop somewhere new. One of the biggest selling points is it saves precious time by avoiding queues. Imagine you’re running late for your flight or train, you can’t afford to wait in line to grab a quick snack or gift. MishiPay prevents this and you can buy with the tap of a button and be on your way."

Tech to combat crime

Some might be thinking, but what about stealing? It must be easy just to pick things up and not pay, right? Wrong. Frictionless shopping technologies will help to reduce shrinkage for brands as the additional barriers make it a less attractive target for shoplifters. Facial recognition technologies will be in play and the added factor of using a registered mobile phone in-store with your exact location and personal information - so hiding under a hood or facing away from CCTV will no longer be possible for thieves. There is also less chance of error with automated inventory records and the ability to connect to POS systems in real-time.

In-store experiences are exploding

Retailers are searching for new ways to engage with their tech-savvy, channel-agnostic customers and attract them back in-stores for shopping. A recent global survey by Airstrip highlighted nearly two-thirds of consumers are using retailers’ apps in-store to meld physical and digital experiences. Apps, platforms, AR, VR and even providing free Wi-Fi in-store are a few of the ways technology is helping to encourage shoppers back in-store.

Recently M&S trialled an augmented reality wayfinding app called List&Go, developed by AR startup Dent in one of their London stores. The app allows customs to enter a shopping list of products and follow an on-screen path to their on-shelf locations. While this makes it more efficient for the shopper, it begs the question of whether this is actually the challenge when shopping in-store. After all, part of in-store shopping is the ability to browse and break away from a digital screen, so time will tell if this tech is successful or over-engineered.

Another retailer that’s introduced new in-store experiences is Selfridges. The department store has made a deliberate move into the wellness sector this year, offering therapeutic experiences, including self-discovery sessions and sex counselling sessions for individuals and couples. The retailer will also enable bookable confidence coaching and empowerment sessions priced from £30 to £150. They also expect their 10-minute sensory reality experience that uses VR pods from Sensiks to be particularly popular with customers and attract more tech-natives into their stores.

A new class of clienteling

Clienteling is a technique that helps sales staff build meaningful relationships with customers by utilising data captured from their preferences and purchasing behaviours. These deep data insights are powering next-generation retail experiences.

For instance, technology provider Mercaux, a fully composable in-store platform is reinventing how customers interact with the physical store from product discovery to personalisation and remote selling, as well as how they interact online, with the likes of Universal Baskets. This enables customers to create a basket anywhere, transfer it either online or offline and check out wherever it is convenient. Mercaux’s technology also enables senior leaders to compare staff performance and complete sales attribution modelling, analyse customer behaviours and understand product interests for further optimisation in-store and online.

Another clienteling platform, Proximity Insight, enables its sales associates to personalise each customer's experience through live chats, video chats, virtual consultations and even personalised microsites. This solution empowers customer-facing teams to become omnichannel champions by equipping them with digital tools to connect to customers effortlessly and sell in new ways. The technology increases engagement and helps sales teams nurture customers in a way that’s welcomed.

Connecting stores and businesses

Digital Transformation projects encompass the entire organisation, not just one store or one online platform. Successful transformations consider every function and operation within the business and connect these in a seamless way to remove frictions, frustration and inefficiencies.

Technology platforms such as YOOBIC enables leaders to connect dispersed functions within the business together, building a more cohesive and collaborative culture. YOOBIC’s all-in-one digital workplace empowers its front-line employees through digitally optimized communication, training and process management. When employees have the right tools, they feel happier and more productive. And, when all areas of the business are in sync, you have better transparency and insights across all functions, departments and operations. Apparel retailer Lacoste recently deployed Yoobic across their 1,200 stores to gain full visibility of their stores’ compliance and ensure a consistent customer experience and brand image was maintained.

The pandemic has accelerated the need for retailers and brands to embrace new technologies and transform their business models for the modern shopper. Those who aren’t exploring new ways of working and selling, run the risk of disappearing altogether.

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