The widespread use of digital technology in people’s everyday lives is transforming shopping habits and places an immense amount of pressure on retailers to offer shoppers a seamless experience. The retail industry is in the midst of a digital revolution. The effects are on a scale that’s comparable to the mercantile revolution, which has fundamentally changed how goods were being exchanged, or the Industrial Revolution, the beginning of our modern era.
If a retailer falls behind, customers will simply take their business elsewhere.
It is therefore imperative that retailers brace for impact and prepare for some action. There’s hardly any retailer that hasn’t at least considered or not already integrates digital at their Point of Sale (POS). According to Deloitte, 36% of in-store sales were influenced by digital technology and this year it will reach a value that’s well over 50%.
There are 3 key findings from Zebra’s Global Shopper Study 2015 that are worth your consideration:
I. Shoppers Appreciate Technology-Enhanced Stores
“Shoppers are gravitating to brick-and-mortar retailers that use technology designed to make the shopping experience more efficient, from flexible delivery and payment options to digital tools that help consumers help themselves.”
II. Consumers Seek Trained, Digitally-Equipped Sales Associates
“Consumers are looking for a shopping environment in which digital technology adds value to how they interact with the sales staff on the floor.”
III. Shoppers Value Advice and Assistance
“Consumers are turning to their peers for shopping guidance like never before. Consumers surveyed said advice from family and friends and online peer reviews and ratings had the greatest influence on their buying behavior.”
Why Digital In-Store Advice makes the difference
Integrating technology and offering digital advice is an important part of any strategy that aims at upgrading and modernizing the POS: it engages, informs, educates, supports and advises shoppers via their preferred route.
Using tablets and kiosks are in fact great ways to sell more products by recommending relevant products or solutions corresponding to the shopper’s preferences. Multiple food chains reported increase in sales and orders after installing self-help kiosks:
People ordered more toppings on their pizza when prompted, ordered desert more often and in an interesting revelation, ordered more and pricier hard drinks too, because ordering on gadgets was easier than pronouncing some of the sophisticated wines.
It is clear: Implementing efficient digital advice solutions at the POS can help you better assist your customers in-store and prevent migration to competitors.
Here, we discuss 4 ways how you can do exactly that to remain the top choice for shoppers.
1. Enable Enhanced In-Store Self-Service
Example: Metro Cash & Carry
Self-help is the future of customer service. 1 in 3 shoppers prefer using their smartphone to find information about a product instead of asking a store attendant.
So what’s happening here? Well, people today increasingly desire seamless shopping experiences that require minimal social friction. Not too many shoppers are comfortable asking a store assistant for help. Also, it’s not always probable that a store assistant has all the answers. Questions about how a product works or comparison of features aren’t exactly easy to answer. Having a tablet or a kiosk that provides quick access to answers and helps them narrow down choices can be a huge enticement to customers who experience decision fatigue and are on the verge of leaving the store.
Since we know that 82% of in-store shoppers are inclined to using their smartphones to comparison-shop, having your own in-store technology, like kiosks, tablets and interactive virtual assistants, gives you a strong defence here. You can engage the customer in-store, providing more relevant answers as well as targeted and customized advice or decision support.
Kiosks also do a much better job of upselling than humans.
You don’t exactly feel comfortable when the store attendant tries to suggest an additional purchase, and think of it as pushy salesmanship. When a kiosk subtly recommends an add-on though, people are more than likely to accept, which results in increased basket size and more revenues.
More to the point, digital solutions allow integration of customized, personalized product advisors, virtual trials, targeted questions to narrow down choices, expert advice and opinion as well as a range of tactics to truly engage, entice and win over the customers.
Take the case of Metro Cash and Carry, a leading global wholesale store that evaluated digital product advisors on standalone kiosks in their stores. 72% of polled shoppers who used the digital advice service for products such as coffee machines or mattresses rated the quality highly. This goes to show how useful digital assistance can be at the POS.
2. Turn sales associates into on-demand store experts
Example: DNA Oy
People increasingly gravitate towards product experts to find answers. However, to be able to take advantage of this, you must empower your store associates and help them to actually be experts. For complex offerings it can be difficult for sales persons to pinpoint to the right solution at a speed that’s acceptable to the shopper, as they may not have all the facts and answers at their fingertips. It is hence, a good idea to turn your sales associates into knowledgeable product experts by giving them access to useful technology.
Sales associate who are assisted by digital sales support tools are more confident and convincing.
By using digital advisors on a tablet, you’d be able to greatly improve the shopper’s interaction with your store associate. They are no longer separated from the customer by a counter or hidden behind a computer. Instead, your sales person and customer can walk through the digital advisor together to swiftly choose the best solution, appease a consumer’s doubts and ensure a smooth sale.
Equipping sales associates with easy-to-use, smart, and accessible digital solutions and training them on using these tools to promote a more trusting and engaging interaction with the customer, helps you to add to the human side of the in-store shopping experience. Customers form a bond with your store and are likely to keep coming back because they experienced a friendly exchange and not a detached, aloof salesperson behind a desk.
Using technology at a store or branch can empower your sales associates to share helpful advice — if you decide to move away from ‘computer says no’ solutions to solutions that facilitate a personal interaction and are indeed helpful.
DNA Oy is one of Finland’s leading telecommunication groups offering diverse telecommunication services to consumers. The company enjoys the highest customer satisfaction score for mobile broadband in the consumer segment. Seeing that the market has become increasingly terminal-driven, DNA placed special emphasis on the importance of distribution through DNA Stores. The company equips their store associates with digital advisors to assist them during customer interactions.
Read more: Slideshare – How DNA is Redefining Customer Experience in the Telco Industry
3. Increase awareness and directly communicate with visitors at retail partners
Example: Newell Brands
In a multi-brand retail store, it is very difficult for a brand to establish itself as the better option as retail sales associates are often brand agnostic and the rival brand’s products are just a flick of the wrist away.
In such case, leveraging digital advisors on kiosks and tablets, strategically customized and placed in brand aisles or corners, can help brands stand out. Visitors can run through the advisor, answer a few questions and receive recommendations for the most suitable product.
You can use this digital opportunity to highlight all your value offerings, introduce your entire collection and lead consumers in the right direction to discover more of your products in a visually appealing way – in your own, undiluted brand voice!
It helps you differentiate your brand and is more likely to increase consumer engagement and basket size. Such digital solutions allow you maintain a consistent message and educate customers about your brand values and benefits.
Check out how Newell Brands use this very technology to enhance the in-store shopping experience for products like Levolor Shades and Calphalon Cookware.
4. Push relevant content and incentives in real-time
Example: Beacons, NFC & QR-Codes
Google Shopper Marketing Agency Council conducted a comprehensive study on shopper behaviour and mobile usage in-store to understand how digital technology is influencing shopper behaviour:
82% of surveyed shoppers use a smartphone to assist them while in store. Among these, 53% do price comparisons.
In fact, Amazon is used twice as much as Google for showrooming. “Amazon is the king when it comes to how consumers comparison shop while in-store, with price as the ultimate factor in driving consumers away from buying at bricks-and-mortar stores,” according to a report by Blackhawk Engagement Solutions. It has been established that shoppers use mobile in store to compare products and prices. It’s a reality that retailers simply have to accept. The smart ones however, know how to use it to their advantage.
Beacons for instance can be installed in the store to invite shoppers to start a digital advisor on their Bluetooth-enabled phone, when in their proximity. Have a look at a shoe store showcase that shows how you can combine digital advice with beacon technology to guide shoppers to the best products for them:
QR codes and NFC (Near Field Communications) are other promising technologies to enhance the in-store experience. Using their smartphones in the store, shoppers can quickly gain access to digital advisors to learn more about the individual products and receive help and advice to narrow down their choices.
As a retailer, you can integrate one or more of these technologies to add a spark to your store making it a rewarding process for the shoppers and you.
Tips for the Successful Integration of Digital Advice at the POS
- Strategy: Define the retail digital experience. You must understand your shoppers’ needs, the concerns and questions they may have and what you plan to do to answer them.
- Approach: It is crucial to move swiftly. Don’t overthink it. Decide on a simple solution and implement. You can always change your strategy later on, so don’t be afraid of trying something new.
- Hardware: The choice between tablets and kiosks may seem daunting, but it all comes down to your target audience and your product, as well as your budget. Tablets are relatively cheaper, offer more privacy to the users in store and are quick and easy. Kiosks on the other hand are more expensive, large and a little low on privacy, but are more visible and inviting.
- Track and Learn: Tracking metrics and the performances (click outs, session times, answers given etc) and making changes as necessary is imperative. Keep a close eye on your data and analyse how the new tech solutions are doing.
- Promote and incentivize: Despite all your efforts, encouraging your customers to use the technology is a challenge sometimes. Offer discounts, rebates and special offers to people who choose to engage and shop via your digital solutions. Promote the solution on social media and explain how it works as well as the benefits a visit at your store brings. Incentivize the gradual shift to self-help. This also allows you to track and measure how your solutions are impacting your conversion rate and bottom line.
Digital advice shifts the focus from the product to the consumer, addressing his or her personal needs. It helps prevent the curse of showrooming by providing value beyond a product. Customers enjoy a personalized shopping experience, find a product that will effectively meet their need and feel valued by the retailer for having gone the extra mile.
Retail may have slowed down owing to the advent of ecommerce, but it is far from dead. Shoppers still love the experience at a physical store, feel fabrics and touch gadgets before they buy. The instant gratification of seeing a product, liking it, buying it and taking it home right away is a cherished experience as opposed to waiting for a delivery, even if it is the same day. There is still an old world charm to spending time in perfumed aisles discovering new products and trying them on. That is why the brick-and-mortar will survive, especially when it has latest technology to back it up.