Technology is not the limiting factor
Today’s customers no longer differentiate between channels. For retailers, this means they have to bridge the gap between physical and digital touch points – become ‘phygital’, in other words. You can find plenty of examples. New technologies offer plenty of instruments and solutions for creating a seamless customer experience. Here is a small selection:
Traceable quality: Consumers are becoming increasingly selective in choosing products and are prepared to pay more for quality. Many retailers therefore now offer the option of tracing their products. At Hema (a Dutch retailer), customers can scan a QR code to get brief reports on the origin of products, including images of the retailer’s operating permits and safety certificates.
Contactless solutions: Contactless solutions do away with one of the least appealing aspects of the shopping experience: paying at the checkout. In some places, queues are already a thing of the past. The best-known example of this is the Amazon Go concept. When entering an Amazon Go store, you open the dedicated app and generate a QR code that you then scan at a terminal to register. Once you’ve finished with your shopping, you simply leave the Amazon Go store with the items you’ve selected. You get the bill a few minutes later conveniently by email or displayed and paid directly in the Amazon app. The Japanese clothing retailer Uniqlo uses similar solutions, especially in its domestic market. There are no barcodes to scan at the checkout, instead all items are placed in a basket and automatically recognised by chips in the clothing. This prevents errors, thwarts shoplifters and above all, enables increased revenue by simplifying and speeding up the checkout process.
Augmented reality (AR): By integrating augmented reality into marketing measures, retailers are aiming to build a relationship with the consumer, promote sales and offer the customer added value. Theoretically, AR can be used in any situation where information can be overlaid on a live feed, thereby expanding potential applications. When integrated into an app, users can see how products look in different colours, for example, or whether pieces go together as an outfit. The use of AR helps with purchase decisions and reduces return rates. And customers spend longer in the store, which increases the chance that they will buy something.
Using camera and Bluetooth technologies or RFID, retailers can create and track customer movement profiles, see what grabs their interest and what they buy. In a smart store, companies can analyse visitor flow across multiple retailers, which assists them in understanding the entire shopping journey.