All right, we know you essentially live and die on margins, constantly on that never-ending quest to increase revenue and decrease costs. In an economic environment that has everyone looking for any edge they can grab onto, many retailers have had to leave their comfort zones and do more outside-the-box thinking to keep pace with today’s changing consumer.
Over the last decade, various forms of technology have surfaced across many retail industries precisely geared toward the increase revenue/decrease cost equation. As a result, dramatic improvements have been made in areas such as supply chain management, inventory management, customer experience and even loss prevention.
However, the key for any retailer when it comes to successfully implementing the new retail technology that’s available now is thinking about your business in terms of channels, with the big three being in-store, online and mobile.
This notion of bridging the gap between how people shop in stores, online and on their mobile devices is an interesting one as more and more consumers are now doing all three simultaneously.
“Leveraging ways that speak to all three of those channels is important as the lines between them are beginning to blur slightly,” said Peter Willgohs, a blogger for the National Retail Federation (NRF). “It’s not that any of them will become less relevant in the years ahead; they just need to work together more seamlessly, and there is new technology out there today that helps accomplish that.”
With that being said, let’s take a look at a few of the latest trends in retail tech that are worth keeping an eye on as we move into deeper 2015 and beyond.
Cha-ching swan song?
Is the cash register simply becoming obsolete? Many experts in the retail space feel the writing has been on the wall for a long time for the iconic machine, which debuted at retail in the late 1800s. Over 100 years later it appears as if smartphones and tablets are beginning to replace this far more stationary device.
“This is an easy one as using tablets and smartphones for in-store sales takes up less floor space, frees up your employees to help customers rather than being tethered to one spot all shift and encourages helpful interaction between your staff and customers,” explained Willgohs. “You’re addressing multiple in-store issues with one tech change.”
When you add the fact that Apple’s iPads with accessories such as credit card readers can cost a store $1,500, compared with over $4,000 for a cash register, the clock begins ticking even more rapidly for cash registers everywhere.
Lots of interesting technology has come to market of late in the area of more interactive ways to display products, and one from a company called Perch Interactive recently caught our eye. The idea here is to create a more memorable in-store experience when it comes to handling new product. The tech from Perch turns any light-colored table surface into a dynamic, hands-on interactive display. The tech encourages and even entices customers to pick up the product and instantly learn more about it.
“For far too long consumers have been passively picking up product at retail and barely interacting with it,” explained Perch co-founder Jared Schiffman. “What the Perch display does is give the brick-and-mortar guys an edge as the info they need is immediate, like the customer gets online, but that physical interaction is also present.”
Creating more memorable in-store experiences is a huge key in not only getting customers to come in to your location but to get them talking to other folks about why your store is worth the trip.