Technology has long been a driving force in the Retail industry. From facilitating supply chains, establishing inter-branch communications, and providing customer convenience, technology empowered the growth of the retail sector into the multi-trillion dollar global business it is now today.
Inventory Management Technology
Wal-Mart, the world’s largest and top-performing retailer recognizes this fact and has often publicized its claim that technology is integral to its success. For example, the company’s day-to-day operations are optimally calibrated by digital technology. Using computerized smart replenishment systems, Wal-Mart’s inventory management units helps to save substantial dollars and prevent the accumulation of stagnant merchandise. Many processes can also be automated, allowing for reduced operational costs and increased worker productivity. Meantime, advanced software on retailing analytics also gives Wal-Mart considerable leverage when it comes to negotiating wholesale costs with its suppliers.
Point of Sale Technology
The renegotiated costs in turn, provide opportunities for ramping up profit margins, either by maintaining retail prices or by pushing prices down to increase consumer demand. Point-of-sale software also provides critical information on buying behavior, including simple data such as which items tend to be purchased together. Knowing such information allows for strategic item placements on specific lanes or shelves, improving customer convenience and significantly helping sales.
Location and GeoFencing Technology
For brick-and-mortar establishments, location-based computing is a boon that has been demonstrated to help goad walk-in customers into a retail outlet’s premises. Restaurants and private label stores are some of the best retail formats that benefit from this technology. The use of mobile applications also delivers different advantages, ranging from aggressive branding campaigns to full-throttle customer convenience as exemplified in the increasing use of smart phones as point-of-sale devices.
Innovations in Mobile Payments and Mobile Wallets have allowed consumers to make purchases effortlessly. Mobile Payments also allow companies to collect payments more rapidly and receive more information about customers. Companies like Square allow entrepreneurs and small retail businesses to efficiently set up in-store and e-commerce stores.
While certainly not at the extent Wal-Mart does, other retailers with less capitalization can still deploy smart technologies and reap their game-changing benefits. In addition to technologies that improve operational efficiency, there are those that enhance branding, marketing, and other forward facing aspects of the retail business. Mobile phones, tablets, and social media are now being intensively used by retailers to build brands, generate leads, manage consumer bases, and convert specially designed customer engagements into sales.
QR codes, in-store digital displays and portable computing devices are transforming the way people buy different consumer goods. Some stores now use a hybrid retail format that integrates the convenience of e-commerce into a brick-and-mortar environment. Customers get to personally inspect the merchandise and acquire additional product information in rich media through touch screen displays or in-store tablets such as iPads. QR codes provide sales conversion data and allow customers to engage with your brand.
Meanwhile, to keep far-flung consumers interested, informed, and in the mood for purchase, social media can provide an increasing range compelling customer interactions. From games that reward winners with meaningful prizes, to profile pages and videos that showcase a brand’s rich heritage, social media encourages customers to engage brands in different ways. One use of social media is in product evolution, wherein consumers are compelled to participate by giving feedback, complaints, suggestions and other inputs that could be used in designing new products and processes or improving existing ones.
As more and more consumers allow technology to become integral to their lifestyle, retailers are increasingly applying those tools for advantage and performance.
About Retail Technology Market Research
Retail Technology Market Research provides insight, data and strategies. Market Research uncovers insights on the behavior and attitudes of consumers and employees at the Point of Purchase and in-store. Different research methods can help you achieve your objectives:
- Ethnography helps identify and understand behavior in-store
- Focus Groups examine unmet market needs and customer preferences.
- Online Communities inspire customers to provide candid feedback on new concepts
- In-Depth Interviews allow customers to think deeply about their habits and provide in-depth insight
- Co-Creation allows companies to design with customers meaningful experiences
- Surveys measure the extent of behavior, customer loyalty and willingness to purchase