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A Plan for Retail in the Digital Age

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Despite the ever-developing digital shopping experience, retail shops are not a dying experience. By using innovative technology and artificial intelligence, the in-store experience can offer more than online sales through tactile experiences and other offline strengths. Digital techniques can improve marketing success and make it easier to manage stock control and keep track of sales trends.

Why Digitise?

With increased customer expectations from online shopping experiences, retailers need to keep up with this change in shopping behaviours. Online features such as personal recommendations based on previous searches, product reviews, one-click purchases, and product comparisons are strong rivals to the physical shopping experience. But these features don’t just have to be available online. By integrating digital tools into offline experiences, retailers can offer a shopping experience that can’t be found online. Interactive tablets and screens in stores enable shoppers to learn more about the products they are interested in buying, and these digital touch points have shown to be the most influential factors in the initial consideration phase for purchasing.

Digitising your Marketing Techniques

Online shopping now offers customers a personalised shopping experience that hasn’t been widely spread yet in the physical retail industry. But this doesn’t mean retailers can’t take advantage of digital marketing techniques in innovative ways to increase sales.

Enticing presentation is the first thing a new customer looks for when going past a new shop, and retailers have taken advantage of this first impression by offering an interactive experience right from the beginning. Interactive storefront windows that allow passersby to discover and explore products is a strong drawcard for enticing new customers.

Once customers are inside, reimagining the retail space is a must for traditional sellers. Incorporating digital techniques with the in-store experience offers a unique approach to shopping that isn’t available outside of the physical space. Using collected data to reach existing customers can offer great deals or offers that are personalised according to their interests. Tailored apps can alert customers about rewards or discounts available, or offer recommendations based off of “liked” products from their search history that could be found in-store.

For many shoppers, the retail experience is just as important as the products, and shoppers want to be wowed by a brand experience through new and innovative marketing technologies. Technology such as interactive mirrors can allow consumers to compare options and get feedback from friends all while in-store, adding to the new retail experience.

Digitising for Management

Digitising retail isn’t just attractive to customers – the use of technology can be taken advantage of on a management level as well. Tracking aspects such as sales, stock control, and employee performance can make the whole retail experience more rewarding for customers and management.

Managing price tags through digital displays has become increasingly popular at grocery stores, allowing prices to change at the click of a button. By using this, stores can update the prices of all stock in minutes. This makes stock control simpler by making adjustments based on supply and demand. Flash sales of overstocked items can clear shelf space and regulate stock.

From a sales perspective, technology can be used to assist in finding the best products to suit the customer. For example, shoe shops can use 3D scanners to create virtual models of customers’ feet and suggest which shoes would best suit the dimensions of their feet. Technology assistance doesn’t stop there. Algorithms can help to personalise outfits by suggesting matching clothing items and taking into account customer sizing, style preferences, and already owned clothes to find what best suits the individual. This not only leads to improved sales, but also to satisfied customers.

The idea of using artificial intelligence in lieu of other employees may sound futuristic and alien, but some chain stores in the USA and Japan have already begun testing restocking robots and automated trolleys. In terms of stock control, managers ideally want to spend as little time as possible checking for empty shelving or low inventory levels. Outsourcing mundane jobs such as replacing misplaced items and alerting on low stock means employees can focus more on customer interactions, ultimately improving the retail experience.

Similarly, automated shopping carts can guide shoppers to each item on their shopping list and allow for faster checkout time. Not only can the trolleys help track when products go in and out of stores, but they can also gather data on users’ shopping habits, allowing for suppliers to better predict the demand for different products.

There is going to be a future for retail stores despite the growth of the online shopping industry. Retail shopping offers a visual and tactile experience that can’t be provided online, and with the amalgamation of digital and physical spaces, retail can improve marketing, customer retainment, stock control, and ultimately improve the retail shopping experience.

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Melanie - Unleashed Software

Article by Melanie Chan in collaboration with our team of Unleashed Software inventory and business specialists. Melanie has been writing about inventory management for the past three years. When not writing about inventory management, you can find her eating her way through Auckland.

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