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Optimising customer experience through in-store technology

There’s no denying in-store technology in the retail sector has completely revolutionised the way consumers shop. Rapid changes in technology and a growing digitally savvy demographic has put tremendous pressure on retailers to adapt the way they interact with their customers, especially in-store.

Consumer confidence in eCommerce has reached its peak, shoppers are now less likely to visit brick and mortar stores. 92% of the UKs population are online, online retail makes up a 17% share of total retail and the top two online retailers in the UK have no physical stores (eBay and Amazon).

There’s no escaping the drawbacks multichannel retailers face; hugely increased operational costs, increased time to market with new products, higher levels of inventory and a higher wage bill are to name but a few.

This blog will look at some of the benefits of in in-store technology and how multichannel retailers can capitalise on its introduction.

Everything Everywhere

Consumers want access to everything, all the time, no matter where they are and will shift loyalty frequently to ensure they are always getting what they want. Google research found that two out of three consumers do not find the information they need in-store and 43% leave frustrated as a result.

Smartphones are already helping to solve this problem, the relationship between digital and in-store exists but it relies on consumer initiative. 71% of shoppers said their mobile device is an important part of their instore experience, by introducing their own iPads retailers can take control of their experience.

Here’s where the omnichannel store assistant comes in, providing the resource for the customer to access required information instantly and effortlessly. Utilising a mobile device, the store assistant can compare products, check size availability, delivery times, product specifications etc. all without leaving the customer’s side.

Benefits

Customer service is the key benefit. In a self-service environment, in-store tech such as iPads offer customers a place to view product videos and demos, make a payment, order additional sizes, engage with the brand online (Instagram, Twitter and Facebook check-in) as well as give crucial feedback in the form of short surveys.

Employees are empowered to better assist customers. Sales assistants can suggest and demonstrate alternative products and accessories; taking advantage of upselling opportunities. Rapport can be established and maintained as there is no need to pass the customer from pillar to post, the buying process is carried out from enquiry to purchase with the same representative.

Retail space is expensive, especially in areas of high footfall. This means that retailers need to maximise the number of products in their space without overcrowding the store and ruining the overall appearance. Using a handheld portable device instead of a static, bulky POS makes this much easier. Stores become clutter free, agile and more welcoming. Orders can also be placed in-store for home delivery, reducing the need to store excessive inventory.

Previous research carried out by Econsultancy showed that 94% of companies who had optimised their customer experience through digital technology saw higher engagement and conversion rates. 66% saw better brand perception and improved loyalty and 50% saw an increase in upselling, cross-selling and renewal.

Not exclusive to retail

Restaurant chain TGI Fridays have successfully implemented iPads across their restaurants to allow waiting staff to take orders quickly and accurately at the table, offering customers alternatives and extras to increase sales and improve the experience. The technology means staff always have the latest information to hand as devices are charged and synced daily.

Set the right foundations

Technology implementation requires heavy investment and therefore businesses need to achieve significant ROI, to do this there are a few factors to consider;

Staff training – equipping your staff with the latest tech to truly optimise the customer experience is a fantastic step towards the omnichannel evolution, but it is vitally important to ensure staff are comfortable and have the skills to get the full potential from the technology. With correct training and new equipment, staff will feel empowered and this will be obvious to the customer.

Solid infrastructure – Key to avoiding awkward moments, frustrated customers and total abandonment of the purchase is a reliable connection, software and database. It’d be disappointing to take the customer through an entire process to then be let down by poor WIFI at the point of purchase.

Effective device management – Make sure your devices are stored safely to protect them from theft and damage, charged and ready to go at the beginning of each day and synced to ensure the latest software and information is available on all units. Investing in effective device management not only helps to form a reliable and seamless service but will increase the longevity of your investments.

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