E-commerce is already huge and still growing fast.
Retailers must focus on introducing useful technology in physical stores and not just as a marketing led novelty.
Timeline for Department stores
Convenience is key
Streamlined payment methods, convenient browsing tools and the removal of queues all can be improved with tech.
Convenience is why people are buying online and frustrations caused by long queues and not being able to locate an item in the right size don’t help.
A more functional environment will drive footfall long term and retailers will have to swallow the initial costs though better tech will likely mean a reduced payroll and more specialist staff.
Online shopping on the high street
Zara’s use of self-checkouts in Spain is an excellent example of how clothing brands can convince consumers to spend when they are in a hurry.
People have become used to the tech from supermarkets and new alarmed electronic barcodes, rather than plastic tags, make it simpler.
H&M has recently launched scan and buy on its app, both stopping people from trying in store then buying from Amazon later and filling availability gaps.
However, retailers should consider that people may browse online then purchase in a physical store and should let people search for where stuff is in store on an app or terminal.
Beacon technology could then be used to direct the customer to the item in store.
The bigger the store, the better the tech
Large stores, such as flagships or department stores, that are more difficult to navigate are best suited to much of the new tech on the market.
Impulse purchases are important here and app notifications can drive add-on purchases.
The State of Technology This Week
A digital changing room queuing system, where shoppers are assigned a number and can come back when it is their turn would mean more time is spent browsing.
For customers collecting an online purchase, store staff could be electronically notified when a customer enters the store.
Retailers must ensure that any tech actually solves a problem; consumers must want to use it.