Canadian customers are now accepting of self-checkouts, and retailers are getting more sophisticated with the programming and maintenance of these computers. Now that everyone is more comfortable with technology in the store, retailers are looking for opportunities to bring tech into more parts of the store.
The aisles of the store are primed for innovation. Bringing in technology into the store shelves makes possible some of the things shoppers love about eCommerce, namely tailored recommendations and real-time shopping cart totals.
Stores have been low-tech and high-labour for a long time. Technology can make stores more efficient by maintaining inventory and alerting staff of potential issues. The store of the future will take far fewer staff-hours to operate.
Below are four opportunities for customers to bring tech into the aisles.
Four opportunities to bring tech into the aisles.
Interactive Digital Displays
Screens in stores are not a new thing, but the data customers are. Customer data can be used to tailor messages on screens, so they are more relevant to the customer and more effective for the advertiser.
Bluetooth and WiFi from a customer’s smartphone can be used to change what a display is showing when a customer is near. This works even better if the retailer has a companion app, like the Walmart Store Assistant mode in the Walmart Mobile App.
Digital Price Tags
A typical store prints out small price tickets that are inserted into the ticket channel of their store shelving. Very primitive.
Now, there are digital price tags. Retailers can change prices and introduce new SKUs with the push of a button. Installing digital price tags eliminates a ton of working hours dedicated to making sure prices are up to date. Making price tags digital also opens up opportunities to adjust pricing as eCommerce stores do.
Most models use e-ink displays, which means they can be run on batteries. Combine that with WiFi, and there is no complicated wiring required.
An eCommerce store knows which customer is browsing their merchandise. They can use that information to make product recommendations based on past purchases.
Now facial recognition technology has become cheaper and more effective because of advancements in artificial intelligence and learning algorithms. This information can be used to tailor the shopping experience, program digital displays, and connect to people’s profiles in the retailer’s loyalty program. Facial recognition can also be used to
Brick-and-mortar stores have access to a piece of data that online stores don’t: facial expressions. A facial recognition system can define people who are confused or frustrated, and store staff can be alerted and come over to help them.
Real-time Inventory Management
Making sure the shelves are stocked perpetual challenge for retailers. Coming to a store to buy a product just to find an empty shelf is also a nightmare for customers. A failure to keep shelves stocked was one of the reasons Target failed in Canada.
Now the networking technology designed for IoT devices can be used to maintain inventory counts in real-time. Small instruments can be used to track inventory. Cameras, weight sensors, and RFID readers can be built into shelves to track how much there is of each SKU.
Down to the last bag of dog food? No problem! The distribution center has already been alerted, and the new stock is on its way.
Low turnover on sour cream this week? It’s all good. The inventory system has already tasked stock keepers to remove the product that is getting close to its expiry date.
Conclusion: Brick and mortar and eCommerce may not be that different in the future.
Many of the advantages that eCommerce has had over retail stores for the last decade will disappear in the coming decade. Retailers that keep up with technology will access data about their customers and products for the first time. They will be able to make smarter decisions and stop wasting resources on labor-intensive activities in the store.
Are you one of these savvy retailers? Contact Matrix today, and we can talk about bringing some of these technologies to your store.