Stores and brands are constantly being told that technology is the answer to meeting increasingly complex demands from shoppers. But some innovations fail to capture the imagination and are brushed off as gimmicks by consumers. What can retailers do to choose the right technology strategies for their audience? This is the subject of a new article for Internet Retailing by Peter Veash, CEO at The BIO Agency.
Peter’s answer to the problem goes back to the age-old adage of knowing your customer: ‘The knack isn’t to chuck things at consumers and hope for the best. Retailers must use common sense, data analytics and in-depth research to understand what technology will entice their audiences – and of course – this will differ depending on who exactly the audience is.”
He goes on to talk about the particular ways tech can improve customer service and boost engagement to generate more sales and bigger profits: “It could be improved payment solutions or other technology that reduces queuing, enhances the shopping experience or makes category management more effective.”
The use of VR in particular comes under scrutiny; it’s being considered by Amazon in its new physical homewares stores, as well as by a growing number of brands in the travel industry and in retail – it can even be used to test out new merchandising ideas and understand in-store behaviour. AI is likely to become increasingly important, with tools to improve stock management and better, more efficient customer service offered by chatbots (TfL are the latest organisation to join the chatbot revolution).
VR reveals what people are reacting to in-store, including which point of sale material and promotions they interact with. Trying out ideas virtually also has the added benefit of being less expensive and disruptive than testing different solutions in a real shop.
Peter ends by saying “Ultimately retail technology is only worth its salt if it improves the customer experience…The key test before any investment is made is to ensure the customer remains at the forefront of the decision making process to avoid spending money on a technology white elephant.”
See The BIO Agency’s work to join up the customer experience and create brand engagement for Halfords.
Read more on this subject in our white paper The return of the high street: how technology has created a new future for retailers.