Large-scale shifts in market behavior mean that businesses must adjust or suffer biting the dust of their competitors. Lately, adjusting to market shifts means adopting tech that brick-and-mortar shops never had to use before. Let’s look at some of the most recent tech trends to date.
1. Adoption of online channels
COVID-19 lockdowns forced many people to shop online, which meant businesses with physical stores had a better chance at survival by making their wares available on eCommerce websites and apps. Thanks to the dramatic increase in online shopping, FOMO (i.e., the fear of missing out) became FOGO (i.e., the fear of going out). Many online shops induce FOGO via the following techniques:
- Displaying what other customers have recently purchased – This establishes social proof that items are in high demand
- Counting down when a sitewide promo will end – Having a timer literally count down when a sale will be over serves as a constant reminder for shoppers to take advantage of the promo before it’s too late.
- Displaying item count once it runs low – This creates a sense of urgency in those who are interested in the items
- Keeping items on display even when they’re already out of stock – This reminds customers that they can miss out if they hesitate to purchase products
To sustain FOGO, now that states are reopening, retailers must rely on their inventory management systems to give them real-time stock counts, regardless of how many sales channels they have.
2. Real-time inventory made available online
Thanks to the online shopping experience people gained during lockdowns, people are likely to apply their virtual shopping habits even when shopping at physical stores. To illustrate, more and more shoppers do pre-store research before they even set out of their homes. That is, they’ll do an online search on where they can buy items to see if there’s a shop nearby and if their prices are agreeable.
It’s easy to think that businesses that have shops both offline and online have the edge here. However, physical stores that don’t have eCommerce sites can now put themselves in front of online searchers by integrating their point of sale (POS) or inventory management systems with an online platform like Google My Business.
3. Contactless payments
Handing over and receiving things like cash and cards can help spread infectious diseases, which is why the adoption rate for contactless payment methods rose significantly during the COVID-19 pandemic. And since people find these methods to be both convenient and more hygienic, more and more retailers are letting their customers use the likes of Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, and RFID payment cards.
4. Automated commerce
There are many aspects of retail commerce that benefit from automation.
Many customers like having fewer things on their minds, which is why they go for subscription-based businesses that let them automatically replenish items such as razors, supplements, and toilet paper.
Many retailers are having their customers opt in to their marketing alerts so that they can inform the latter of new arrivals, loyalty programs, and discount promos. The most sophisticated marketing automation programs even allow retailers to automatically tailor their messages according to customer behaviors. For instance, if a shopper had an item reserved but did not purchase it, the retailer could send a notification, email, or SMS to that shopper when the item is running low on stock or is on sale.
Many processes in retail can now be automated, such as item reorders when stock runs low, and prompts that tell cashiers to record serial numbers of electronics purchases.
5. App integrations
So many aspects of running a retail business involve the use of many apps. Helping a customer quickly find the item they want requires a real-time inventory management system, processing non-cash payments requires card readers and mobile payment devices that use payment processor apps, and taking care of customers’ profiles requires a customer relationship management program. In some groceries, smart carts tally the value of their contents and can even recommend items to go with what shoppers add to their carts. The most sophisticated carts can also process payments so that shoppers don’t have to line up at checkout counters anymore.
All of these apps and tools are meant to make processes more efficient, but if shifting from one app to another requires manual data entry or long wait times, that might translate to poor customer service. Therefore, it’s no surprise that retailers are finding value in properly integrating their apps with one another. App integrations help data flow seamlessly from one app to another, making customer interactions smooth, fast, and delightful.
Retailers like yourself are using more and more IT tools to become more cost-efficient and garner more sales. To learn which tech makes the most sense for your business, turn to Online Computers. Call us today!
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