The world was already heading toward in-store technology before Covid-19 hit, but now there’s an even bigger emphasis on developing technological solutions for daily tasks.
Some places, including Walmart, have even switched to providing 100 percent self-checkout lanes. What does this mean for workers and shoppers? The answer isn’t simple, but for many people, this change indicates that stores are rushing to meet the demands of the new marketplace.
How Did Technology Transform the Retail Industry?
There are many perks associated with embracing technology such as self-checkout lanes. At the same time, however, some customers are turned off by the colder approach.
The pros for the retail industry include less waste, more effective marketing and promotions, a more efficient ordering system and stock management, and quicker checkouts for people who only have a few items.
On the other hand, switching to new technology often requires a large investment. Additionally, as dependence on technology increases, it can become much more difficult to meet customer needs during a power outage.
Overall, the power of technology wins, despite the complaints that retail companies may receive from customers. In fact, people who are willing to accept a retail establishment’s changes often discover that their satisfaction actually goes up. When you combine this with reduced costs, it simply makes sense for technology in retail to be a positive game-changer.
What Technology is used in Retail Stores?
When you think about technology, the first thing that probably comes to mind is self-checkout. However, there are a lot more options to choose from, and some of the most appreciated stuff is just now coming to stores. For example, a whopping 89 percent of customers want in-app store navigation, and 88 percent prefer smart dressing rooms.
Mobile payments are also seen as a good thing by 69 percent of customers. Perhaps the most surprising number, given how much people have complained, is that 63 percent of customers have been happy using self-checkout. What these numbers tell us is that the vast majority of people want to save time by taking advantage of technology in retail stores.
Another big example is Kroger’s Scan, Bag, Go service. Customers are given the opportunity to use these scanners when they enter the store. If they choose to do so, they’ll be able to scan their own groceries as they make their way up and down the aisles.
Once they’re done shopping, they can either take their scanner to a cashier or enter their credit card info to complete their transaction. It’s unknown at this time if this technology will make its way over to the dedicated retail sector, but it would definitely save shoppers a lot of time.
Almost every store offers in-store pickup, which is another good way to reduce the wait in checkout lanes. These orders are placed and paid for online, but the customer still goes to their local retail store to pick them up. This gives people the opportunity to pick up their items on the same day. They may also find themselves shopping for other items that catch their eye after entering the store.
How Technology in Retail Improves Shopping Experiences
To reiterate, all this recent in-store technology exists to make life easier for shoppers. Even things that are used behind the scenes end up affecting customers. For instance, automating inventory tends to keep more items in stock, which in turn allows people to find what they want more quickly.
Another example of how technology has changed the in-store shopping experience can be found with in-stock locators. Stores that have chosen this technology have given customers an easy way to determine if the item they want is in stock. Some stores have taken this even further.
Consider the Kohl’s website and how it allows you to browse your local store’s shelves. By using this innovative system, a customer can find an item they like, locate it at a local store, and select in-store pickup. Therefore, before someone arrives at the store, they already know the item is waiting for them. This saves so much time and potential frustration that it’s surprising every retail store doesn’t use a similar system.
Barnes & Noble has been trying to hold off Amazon’s significant portion of the book market. They also use an in-store locator, and it’s a lot easier to use than the system that Kohl’s relies on. Each book you look at automatically tells you if it’s available at your closest store. If it’s not, you have the choice between checking other local stores or buying it from their online shop.
Both systems recognize the customer’s need to locate an item they can pick up today. They also incorporate customer reviews, which is another huge plus for consumers. By combining these two things, stores such as Barnes & Noble still have the chance to remain relevant. As an added bonus, they can beat Amazon by making it clear that people can pick up their chosen book today instead of waiting for shipping.
Do you have a retail store that would benefit from putting some of these technologies into action? Let’s recap with a list of what in-store technology you should consider.
- Self-Checkout – This is present in most big box stores. If you don’t have it, you need it!
- In-App Store Navigation – Does your store have more than a couple of aisles? If you spend a lot of time answering questions about where certain items are, you should definitely consider this innovation.
- Smart Dressing Rooms – Any store that sells clothes should look into smart dressing rooms. Emulating Ralph Lauren’s touchscreen mirror and special lighting is a great choice.
- In-Store Locator – Giving customers the opportunity to check your store’s inventory from home will make them much happier when they come in.
- Smart Payments – Kroger and AmazonFresh have both tested letting customers shop without needing to go to a checkout lane. This is especially useful for people who are in a hurry.
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