Retail Digitization: A Better Way to Handle Marketing, Payments and Inventory
In today's world, technology is the driving force behind consumer behaviour, as well as business value and performance; this is a trend that will not change anytime soon. It is up to the savvy retail business owner to adopt modern in-store technology or risk disappointing customers or lose their competitive edge.
Technology has become ubiquitous in the lives of consumers, and this means expectations are on the rise and becoming more diverse since consumer needs are not static. Also, with the rapid pace at which technology advances, their expectations are evolving at a breakneck speed. Technology is in all areas of people’s lives, including the way they interact and deal with retail businesses.
Now is the time for business owners to consider how they can use retail tech to enhance the customer’s in-store experience and business performance in three key areas: marketing, payments and inventory.
Marketing - Digital Displays
In-store digital displays are a kind of digital signage used to display content in the form of ads and other useful information. With digital screens, retail business owners can mix and match videos, images and even interactive content to create a memorable advertising experience for consumers to increase engagement levels beyond what traditional window displays can accomplish.
Digital displays are not merely a different way to display attractive advertisements; they are arguably a much better way. A well-placed digital screen on your storefront can attract and engage customers during business hours and even well after that, driving sells up significantly.
How effective is digital signage? Well, 76% of consumers find digital signage interesting and enter sites because of it. Also, 75% of consumers find them so impressive that they tell their family and friends about stores with digital signage. It is reported that people can spend quite a long time viewing ads on a digital display, provided the content displayed can catch and retain their attention.
Digital marketing is an excellent way of establishing and nurturing relationships with consumers that can be lucrative, especially in the retail business. Moreover, many digital marketing strategies can be used to generate new leads. These strategies include social media channels, blog posts (you have to make sure the content links to the main website), email campaigns, online reviews and search engine optimisation (SEO).
Take social media, for example. Social media influence 93% of buying decision shoppers make. It is no wonder three million advertisers are now using Facebook. An interesting case study is one of Matthew Woodward, who managed to get a return on investment (ROI) of 2500% in two separate campaigns with Facebook advertising (he reportedly spent only $599.91 for both drives).
Beacon technology is the next step in the progression of location-based advertising. However, rather than taking advantage of GPS technology to ascertain the location of the target audience, Beacon technology uses Bluetooth to send consumers relevant retail information. This information includes sales, promotions, offers and product information, from nearby shops that have a Beacon.
The aforementioned is proximity marketing at its best.
Popular Bluetooth-based Beacon technology includes iBeacons and Eddystone beacons, which are created by Apple and Google, respectively. However, these technologies don’t just bombard consumers with unsolicited advertisements. There are apps involved that receive the ads if they are within the broadcasting distance of the Beacon.
According to a report by Proximity. Directory, SMEs can witness an ROI of 365% and an increase in profits of 8% by adopting Beacon technology.
Payments - Cards
Over the years, credit and debit card usage has grown significantly in the UK, from £7.438 million in 2008 to £14.847 million in 2016. Their usage continues to grow, and it is estimated that 60 million credit and debit transactions will take place on a daily basis in 2026. According to this data, people in the UK are incredibly inclined to cashless shopping.
This makes it all the more critical for a retail business to adopt cashless payments in the form of card terminals. These card terminals should accept all the major cards to experience greater ROI. (Regarding Concerning purchase volume in Europe, VISA has 66% of the market share, and MasterCard has 33%).
Mobile payments are a form of contactless payment that has surged in popularity due to how easy making payments is with them. Many consumers usually have their smartphones in hand and can easily use mobile payment apps, which utilise near-field communication (NFC) embedded in the phone, to purchase items without the need for any cash or cards.
Popular mobile payment apps (also called e-wallets) include Zapper, Apple Pay and Google Pay.
So now that NFC technology is embedded in sim cards, Vodafone has partnered with PayPal to make contactless mobile payment possible for anyone with an Android Phone and PayPal account. The beauty about this development is that the handset doesn’t even need to be switched on to perform transactions.
Inventory - Shelf-Scanning Technology
Shelf-scanning technology is especially beneficial to the retail business since it simplifies inventory management. Using image recognition, the technology can alert management of stock that needs replenishing by using cameras to scan shelves at superhuman speeds and accuracy. This tech usually comes in the form of shelf-scanning robots.
As reported by Mercury News, US-based megastore, Walmart, tested shelf-scanning robots in a couple of their supermarkets earlier this year. The test revealed interesting results, mainly that the robots were able to scan entire isles in 90 seconds and detect products that were missing, misplaced or had the wrong price-tag.
Such a task would take a human much longer to do. Plus, accuracy is not guaranteed.
Electronic Point Of Sale (EPoS)
EPoS is a system made up of card terminals, touch screens, barcode readers, scanners and other devices designed to facilitate sales recording and stock management. The sole purpose of an EPoS system is to improve business operations and reduce costs.
These systems even go beyond what conventional till points provide by being able to generate detailed reports from the transactional data recorded in real time. Moreover, some EPoS systems are highly customizable, allowing business owners to set notifications for when inventory is low or even create loyalty reward schemes for customers.
However, setting up an EPoS system comes at a hefty price, and this is hard to tell considering that many retail businesses these days use them. If you decide to implement one in your business, shop around to find one that meets your needs and requirements.
Technology’s impact on the retail business cannot be overstated. With the way it is rapidly advancing, its transformative effects are being felt by small, medium and even large retail enterprises. It's up to retail business owners to adopt current retail technology and stay in-the-know concerning its future developments.