Explore the latest retail tech trends in this three-part series, and deep dive into the growing integration between online and offline in global retail. In part two: retail tech and analytics breakthroughs that brands are using to push the boundaries of what’s possible in delivering exceptional customer experiences.
To stay ahead of today’s rapid changes in consumer behavior, innovative Tech and Durables (T&D) retailers are taking bold steps to integrate the latest in retail technology and analytics into touchpoints along the customer journey.
Identify practical additions to your business and retail strategies, and explore groundbreaking concepts in retail that leverage technology and analytics to boost sustainability, operational efficiency, and customer satisfaction. Here’s what you need to know.
Maximizing marketing and sustainability through e-billing
An integral part of each retail transaction, bills or invoices are most often physically printed on paper — and left behind by customers, despite it being a mandatory part of warrantees, exchanges and returns. And they literally cost the earth, with the greenhouse gas emissions created by the production and printing of a paper invoice calculated at 30.9g CO2-eq compared to 9.8g CO2-eq per invoice for an eBill.
E-invoicing gives brands and consumers an elegant solution.
Switching to digital receipts:
Reduces paper waste, improving sustainability and reducing costs
Simplifies adherence to warrantee and returns policies for busy customers
Enables consumers to track their spending patterns when combined with budget management- or banking apps
Expands marketing opportunities into a previously offline space.
Images 1–3, from left to right: Digital receipts leveraging the new marketing space to 1) Entice customers to sign up for a loyalty program, 2) cross-sell relevant products personalized to the recent purchase, and 3) offer branded content personalized to the customer’s values and interests.
The image above shares four key ways enterprising brands can leverage this new marketing space:
This new digital receipt can now also include communication about loyalty points — enticing new customers into repeat purchases with an immediate, personalized demonstration of value they have lost out on (image 1).
Retailers can leverage cross-sell opportunities, displaying products often bought along with the current item (image 2)
Retailers can add further value by linking customers directly to additional content that keeps them engaged and the brand top of mind (image 3).
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Delivering efficient, high-tech store experiences with robotics
From hospitality, to the corporate environment, healthcare, education and now retail — robots, including androids, are transitioning from the realm of science fiction and becoming a part of everyday life.
Pioneering robotics companies are leading the way, delivering end-to-end solutions for robots in public life — where there bots perform a range of tasks suited to the environment, and delivering:
Meet-and-greet robots can enhance in-store experience by:
Offering personalized assistance to customers — guiding them to the desired products or store sections, and answering basic inquiries
Delivering interactive experiences — freeing up human staff to focus on more complex tasks and improving customer satisfaction
Connecting customers with the help they want — if a human store consultant is preferred, these robots can send an alert that calls one over
Helping customers self-serve — screens on simpler robots can be used to answer FAQs, deliver promotional flyers, and inform customers about the latest offers and discounts related to their products of interest.
The latest versions of in-store robots are discussing about already linking to the ChatGPT API to comprehend and deliver contextual answers to consumers’ questions!
In warehouses and distribution centers, stock-taking robots can:
Automate the inventory management process — efficiently scanning and tracking products on the shelves
Collect data in real-time — enabling businesses to maintain optimal stock levels, reduce errors, and streamline the supply chain
Relieve store consultants from mundane, repetitive work — delivering up to 10x more accurate readings when scanning shelves
Sendi automatic updates to merchandise management systems — ensuring retailers reorder products in time to prevent disruption of supply.
This frees consultants to spend more time on the floor with customers.
Attracting tech-savvy consumers with the Metaverse
Despite a growing exploration of how it can be leveraged for B2B needs, the Metaverse still has to develop as a practical B2C platform and commercially viable use case need to emerge. Currently, Metaverse in retail in 2023 is limited to creating brand awareness — positioning the brand as a fearless tech pioneer and attracting leading-edge tech consumers. But with a projected value of up to US$5 Trillion by 2030, and with 79% of consumers active on the Metaverse making a purchase, it’s impossible to ignore.
As a space only limited by the skills of its programmers, forward-thinking brands have started to explore its uses for loyalty programs and gamified customer journeys and immersive shopping experiences. For example, one French retailer now invites customers to join their Metaverse-based loyalty program through a link that downloads the loyalty app and issues each user with an avatar NFT. These avatars represent different retail professions, and users unlock special offers and promotions related to their avatar within the Metaverse. Another retailer has created a buzz by conducting job interviews on their Metaverse campus.
While Metaverse development and adoption is still nascent, to maximize opportunities in this digital space which will be a further extension of omnichannel capabilities brands/retailers must start planning now.
How would retailers benefit?
Brand Experiences and Events: Retailers can host virtual brand experiences and events within the metaverse, such as product launches, fashion shows, and exclusive previews. These immersive events create buzz, generate excitement,
Personalized Engagement: The metaverse enables retailers to gather data and insights on customer preferences and behaviors, allowing for personalized recommendations and targeted marketing campaigns. By tailoring experiences to individual users, retailers can enhance customer engagement which can lead to conversion in sales.
Collaborative Shopping: The metaverse facilitates social interactions and collaborations. Retailers can leverage this by creating virtual spaces where customers can interact, share recommendations, and shop together. This fosters a sense of community, encourages user-generated content, and increases brand loyalty.
Practical considerations for retailers
Among the three listed futuristic solutions, e-invoicing is the lowest hanging fruit. Investing in the Metaverse and robots are more capital intensive and come with the following considerations:
Technology Infrastructure: Retailers need to invest in robust technological infrastructure to support Metaverse solutions. These upfront costs can be significant.
Development and Integration: Creating a Metaverse presence requires skilled developers and designers to build and integrate virtual environments, avatars, and interactive features. The cost of hiring or outsourcing talent for development, customization, and ongoing maintenance should be factored in. In the case of robots, it's crucial to consider how they will integrate with existing store systems and processes. Compatibility with point-of-sale systems, inventory management software, and other backend systems is essential to ensure smooth operations and data synchronization.
Content Creation: Retailers need to invest in creating and curating content specifically tailored for the Metaverse. This includes designing virtual stores, digital product catalogs, 3D models, and interactive experiences.
Purpose and Function: Retailers should clearly define the intended purpose and function of the robots in their stores.
Training and Education: Retailers will need to train their staff to effectively utilize and navigate the Metaverse platform. Implementing robots in-store requires training staff to work alongside these machines effectively. Retailers should invest in comprehensive training programs to familiarize employees with the robots' capabilities, operation, and maintenance.
Return on Investment (ROI): Retailers must evaluate the potential return on investment of implementing robots in-store.
This is clearly not practical for everyone, at least not immediately. A thoughtful and thorough approach, based on careful market analysis, and leading with a pilot program/region can inform which technology may be worth the investment. Only then would it boost the staff and consumer adoption of your best-fit retail tech. The result: improved efficiency and seamless customer experience that ultimately boosts the bottom line.
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