How New Technology in Retail is Reshaping the Industry
In 2020, the retail industry experienced a massive shift that will forever change how orders are captured and delivered. Although the COVID-19 pandemic was incredibly challenging for retailers to navigate, the latest retail technology empowered retailers to rethink and optimize their processes for greater efficiency, safety and profitability.
Everything from Buy Online Pick-Up In Store (BOPIS) to contactless payment options were initially challenges that have turned into permanent opportunities to rise above the competition. The companies continually working to improve customer satisfaction set themselves apart by using technologies once considered “nice to have” and integrating them into the daily customer experience.
The Ever-Changing Retail Technology Landscape
The industry has changed dramatically over the years in an effort to keep up with the standards originally set forth by Amazon. The Amazon Effect continues to recalibrate customer expectations, and most consumers expect items to be available instantly or within a few days. Consumers continuously expect frictionless shopping experiences with immediate results.
When Amazon introduced in-store returns, they opened a new way of thinking about returns and how to manage them. By spearheading a new process for their own returns, Amazon has forced other retailers to adapt to improve the overall customer experience and cost efficiencies.
In this article, we’ll explore the latest trends in retail technology and how the pandemic has expedited retailers’ timeline for adapting new technology in their stores.
Mobile Retail Technology Offers Speed and Convenience
Handheld Mobile Devices for Click and Collect, BOPIS and More
The pandemic increased customer demand for speed, convenience, contactless transactions and other innovative solutions. Many organizations swiftly mobilized to implement a click and collect, curbside or BOPIS program, and employees were able to quickly support these new programs with mobile devices in hand.
As in-store shopping has returned, retailers have continued efforts to create an omnichannel experience, giving employees the ability to place web orders in-store and use mobile devices for line busting during peak hours.
Prior to the pandemic, some retailers were hesitant to upgrade for fear of increased cost in both the technology and the overall program. However, failure to upgrade has proven to be even more costly. As customers choose to shop at stores that offer better experiences, some retailers have lost more in missed business than the actual cost of implementing these programs and upgrades. Retailers who regularly evaluate their technology and look for cost optimization opportunities are better equipped to deliver exceptional customer experience and increase profitability.
Mobile Payment Terminals for Optimal Efficiency
Mobile payment terminals are more important than ever due to growing consumer expectations for contactless payment options. To meet the increasing demand for efficiency, speed and convenience, retailers need to evaluate new ways to quickly take and process payments on the fly.
Mobile payment technology needs vary based on the requirements of each environment. Does the customer need to enter data into the payment terminal? Or can they quickly tap to confirm basic information? Is the average customer younger and comfortable using new technology? Or are they less tech-savvy? The use case will dictate if they need an iPad or larger screen, or if a handheld device will meet their needs.
Retailers should look for versatile devices that can flex between mobile and fixed mount, as well as perform multiple functions such as capturing payments, managing inventory, scanning barcodes, printing labels and supporting in-store communications. Existing devices may already be capable of such flexibility with updates to software or settings. Working with a partner who can help explore device capabilities can save time and money by ensuring you are always getting the most out of your retail technology.
In-Store Retail Technology Can Make or Break the Customer Experience
Customers today expect a technology-enhanced shopping experience. Whether the tech is helping customers feel safer in-store or creating a more immersive experience, it’s in every retailer’s best interest to invest in upgrades to stay competitive in their market. Options such as help kiosks where shoppers can check inventory or call buttons to request assistance in the dressing room can ensure that customer needs are fulfilled, and they walk away with a positive in-store experience.
Increasingly, retailers are using digital signage to upsell consumers from the moment they pull into the parking lot and travel throughout the store. Some displays utilize artificial intelligence (AI) to strategically target messaging based on visual cues and their in-store behavior. Did the customer place a floor cleaner in their cart? They might see a digital display for a new mop head shortly afterward. Retailers are using AI to help consumers know what they need even before they do, which can save an extra trip to the store when they get home and realize they should have bought a coordinating product.
New Technology in Retail Streamlines Operations & Customer Service
Storeroom Technology to Manage Supply and Inventory
The customer-facing technology is only part of the puzzle for retailers. Storeroom technology ensures there is backend support for supply and inventory management. As more consumers opt for BOPIS, retailers need the correct systems in place to guarantee these programs run smoothly and profitably.
Retail stores need the right technology to power the backend of their operations, whether products are offsite in a warehouse or in the storeroom. The supply and inventory processes must be streamlined to meet consumer expectations and provide immediate fulfillment. Without a tight internal workflow supported by the latest and greatest technologies, retailers cannot deliver the exceptional experience customers have come to expect.
Communication between the storeroom and the retail floor has also changed, with companies moving away from daily stand-ups or huddles. Effective communication is still necessary, yet more and more organizations are recognizing that touch points can be facilitated with two-way radios or other mobile devices.
Retail Technology to Facilitate In-Store Returns
The increase in online orders has also increased return rates, so retailers are focusing on ways to streamline the returns process and reduce costs. By encouraging shoppers to complete their returns in-store, retailers can reduce shipping costs while driving foot traffic to brick-and-mortar locations and facilitate cross-selling opportunities.
In-store returns also bring customers through the door, which presents new opportunities to reward or upsell them. Retailers can capitalize on these opportunities by offering coupons and special discounts when making in-store returns.
To make the experience efficient for store associates, retailers are using mobile printers to produce labels on the spot and reduce handling workflows. Some retailers are even offering curbside returns to make processing easier for consumers.
Advancing Technology Powers the Retail Industry
The pandemic forced retailers to rethink their processes, examine the retail technology available and explore ways mobile devices and other equipment can streamline workflows and improve the overall customer experience.
At TRG, we have established a track record of success with retailers of all sizes—from regional chains managing 500 devices to Fortune 100 companies managing over 200,000 assets. If you’re looking to upgrade your in-store technology, optimize fulfillment center operations or explore new technology in retail, our experienced team of technology experts can help.
Learn about our full breadth of retail technology services and solutions and contact us to find the right solution for your business.
TRG is a global managed solutions provider focused on mobility, point of sale and payments. With facilities across the United States, Canada and Europe, we provide the most comprehensive suite of lifecycle management services – from warehouse to boardroom and deployment to retirement. Our mission is to Make Technology Simple, helping customers accelerate projects, drive application success, improve employee/customer experience and maximize ROI. We’re relentless in our drive to find innovative, effective ways to enhance customer operations and challenge conventional thinking along the way. Learn more about why The Difference Is Us at www.trgsolutions.com.