Customer centricity demands a complete realignment of in-store processes, technologies and personnel, with retailers likely to incorporate the following technologies across all shopping channels in 2017:
More mobility: Spoiled by the speed of getting information online, the customer now expects the same service in a store. This trend will mean even more mobile devices - such as tablets and smartphones - being used by sales personnel to provide information on individual articles at the point of sale (POS).
Digital fitting rooms: Interactive systems and ‘magic mirrors’ in fitting rooms can collect information on customer preferences and can recommend suitable items to customers accordingly. The customer can communicate directly from the fitting room with store staff who can support the buying and decision-making process, not to mention access other, complementary ranges of items online.
Radio frequency identification (RFID) real-time insights and availability: The use of more RFID readers will also help improve both customer service and back-office functions, speeding up inventory procedures and in-store processes with real-time information. New forms of mobile interactions will increase due to digitised customer cards via smartphones, just as mobile payments will be used more extensively. The implementation of fixed-reader infrastructure and real-time analytics opens up completely new opportunities for retailers to gain deeper insights into their in-store operations and how to actively manage them.
Omni-channel retailing: The integration of all channels via technology, as well as digitalisation in store, not only ensures a successful customer journey with services like click and collect, but also reduces over-stocking and generates additional knowledge about the customer.
More analytics: Up until now, a customer entering a store was often an unknown entity with regards to their buying intentions. Reliable analytical data will allow bricks-and-mortar retailers to use similar customer profiles to those typically used by online retailers.
Internet of Things (IoT): More and more retailers will use the numerous possibilities of IoT and cloud-based services to better understand their customers, increase effectiveness and further improve their customer’s shopping experience. IoT enables the personalisation of offers and digital signage that increases the probability of self-service and more intelligent and extensive interaction with consumers in the store. IoT is undoubtedly here to stay.
Artificial Intelligence: Artificial intelligence will gain importance in the retail industry as part of a digital transformation. Self-learning systems and predictive recommendations will establish themselves, starting from customer requirements and sales-oriented forecasts for purchasing and merchandising up to buying recommendations for consumers in a store, fitting room or online.
Uwe Hennig is CEO at Detego
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