By Stephanie Crets
Customers are finding new ways to utilize their own technology to make for a better, easier shopping experience, and now retailers are realizing they must do the same. Most retailers, however, are stubborn, finding the implementation of new technology cumbersome. According to Forrester’s new report “The Future of the Digital Store,” more than 20 percent of shoppers pricecheck on their phones while in store aisles, therefore, retailers need to jump on the new technology as soon as possible or they could lose out on valuable sales.
Forrester’s report suggests that there are four key stages that can help retailers reach digital maturity and be able to implement new technologies into their systems. These four stages include:
- Investing in technology that connects enterprise systems across all touch points;
- Finding and adding capabilities that create operational efficiencies;
- Implementing a system that allows retailers to access in-store customer insights in real-time; and
- Refreshing the store layout to give customers a better, more efficient experience that allows them to find what they need quickly, while also offering products they may not have been previously interested in.
RM asked Mike McMurry, SVP of marketing and business operations at Point Inside to share some insights about acquiring new technology for retailers. Point Inside offers support to retailers, including big-box retailers like Target and Lowe’s, at every stage of the implementation process. Some of its services include: indoor mapping, which provides shoppers with a store layout, available services, product locations and navigation with interactive 3D maps; product location, which shows shoppers exactly where to find in-store products on a specific shelf; insights and analytics, which pulls deep customer insights from path to purchase; and shopping lists, which gives customers a way to make a list, while offering purchase intent to retailers.
What can retailers do to prepare for the implementation of new technology?
To prepare for the implementation of new technology, retailers should first determine how they could improve the experience for their shoppers. It’s important not to implement technology just to do it, but leverage new technology to up the shopping experience for customers. The next step is research. It’s important to do your homework given the vast amount of new technologies out there. Once a retailer has identified specific technologies to meet the needs of its shoppers, they should start small with a pilot in a few stores to test the new technology and refine the experience based on the pilot before going chain-wide. The data from the test will help retailers troubleshoot potential issues and apply real-world learnings to their full implementation.
Retailers should also invest in their underlying technology infrastructure to build a strong foundation for new technologies. For many emerging technologies including beacons, omnichannel fulfillment and in-store mapping, it is helpful for retailers to digitally index their physical stores. Knowing where everything in each store is located, including products, entrances and services provides the critical context needed for accurate product location, indoor navigation and in-store messaging.
It’s important to note that investing in a digital in-store strategy takes time. According to Gartner and Accenture research, it can take two to five years to bring new in-store technologies, such as mobile coupons, into mainstream adoption. As retailers implement new technology, they can both provide value-added services to shoppers and also learn about how to improve and optimize each technology as they move towards more widespread usage. However, once a strong technology infrastructure is created, other technologies can be more easily and quickly implemented utilizing this strong foundation.
Once these digital technologies have been put in place, how can retailers let their customers know that their shopping experience can be more digitally connected?
Retailers should inform their customers of new in-store digital features in every touch point they have with their customer: on their website, in e-mail, in circulars, in their mobile apps, on in-store signage, via social media and other places as part of an integrated marketing campaign. For example, retailers can include a brief update about new features on the home screen of their branded mobile app. We’ve seen great examples of in-store displays and signage prompting shoppers to download the app in-aisle. Also, store associates can discuss new features and technologies in more depth and suggest their favorite features that allow them to stay more connected, such as access to new deals, discounts and perks.
What kind of support does Point Inside offer its clients in the transition process?
Point Inside sets itself apart by bringing best-in-class execution, a full-service enterprise-grade platform and keen understanding of the in-store channel to its retail partners. During a retailer’s digital transformation, Point Inside takes the first step to digitally index each and every store for its retail partners, integrating multiple data streams to create a single view of the store. Point Inside provides its retail partners with technical support throughout every stage of implementation, ensuring a smooth process. Point Inside’s support certainly doesn’t end when the implementation is complete as the company continues to help its partners maximize their investment in the company’s technology.
Will having Point Inside’s technology also benefit the consumer?
Absolutely. Point Inside’s technology provides shoppers with a more meaningful, contextualized and personalized shopping experience. The innovative search platform is optimized for mobile, giving shoppers the ability to search for generic terms such as detergent or brand names such as Tide. Shoppers also have the option to view what’s in stock at a specific store, including current inventory and pricing. Store information is refreshed daily so that shoppers are given the most up-to-date results.
Shoppers can also add the items they would like to purchase from their search results to a shopping list, which can then be used to create an interactive map that routes the most efficient path through the store to pick up all the items on their list. These interactive store maps provide the shopper with the store layout, department locations, in-store services and product locations at the aisle and bay level. Point Inside’s features make the shopping experience faster, easier and overall more enjoyable for shoppers.
How does engaging digitally help drive sales and loyalty?
Engaging customers digitally is essential for retailers to customize offerings, add value and ultimately increase the bottom line. When retailers offer services that are truly helpful to the customer, such as improved customer service through a variety of channels, mobile apps with time-efficient routing maps and product discovery, the retailer is more likely to cultivate stronger customer loyalty. It’s important to reach customers on their terms and digital offers shoppers this flexibility.
The digital customer experience is increasingly mobile thanks to the prevalence of smartphone use in everyday activities. By utilizing technology to integrate the physical and digital worlds, retailers are transforming the shopping experience and meeting the growing demands of shoppers.
Has the implementation of Point Inside’s technology proven successful?
The retailers that have integrated Point Inside’s StoreMode platform into their branded apps have seen a substantial ROI since implementation. For example, last holiday season Target integrated Point Inside’s platform into its mobile app, providing guests interactive in-store maps, shopping list creation, store-specific product search and Black Friday doorbuster deal maps. These interactive maps revealed exact store layouts and locations of doorbuster deals – down to the aisle and shelf – to make it easy for shoppers to quickly find items. Target rolled out the new features via its mobile app at all 1,801 Target stores nationwide to create a more digital, personalized experience for its guests and make it easier and more enjoyable than ever to shop in its stores. Target’s in-store mobile maps were accessed more than 400,000 times over the holidays with shoppers engaging with Target via mobile phones, making four times as many visits to Target stores per year.
Overall, shoppers who use a mobile app with Point Inside’s StoreMode platform have an increased basket size of two to four times that of shoppers who do not use a retail app with Point Inside’s technology. Additionally, Point Inside has been proven to increase digital engagement: Shoppers who use features such as shopping list creation, digital coupons and product discovery show a four to five times increase in interactions compared to users of apps without such features.
Visit Point Inside for more information: www.pointinside.com