Auto-Star attended the annual National Retail Federation (NRF) 2020 Big Show again this year in New York City. This is the place to be for the progressive retailer looking to jump on the latest trends in technology to get ahead of the competition. With the accelerating changes in retail technology and businesses taking advantage to disrupt entire retail segments, it’s more important than ever to make sure that you are keeping an eye on what’s next.
We’ve noticed an exciting change at the NRF 2020 Big Show. In years past, jargon alone was expected to encourage adoption of new technologies. From Artificial Intelligence to Block Chain to the Internet of Things, there were solutions without specific problems and everyone forgot about the actual reason a retailer is in business, the customer. This year that seems to have shifted and technology companies are finally offering solutions to help a retailer focus on what’s important by creating amazing customer experiences. Here are some of the top ways that smart retailers are using retail technology to compete against “E-tailing” by creating “Experience Retailing” in 2020.
Sell Experiences, Not Products
Customers expect great products at great prices, available when and where they want them. This is just a given at this point. Retailers have been using advanced inventory management techniques to ensure this for years. These solutions are mature and proven, however that’s not enough anymore. Now you need to give customers a reason to buy your solutions over the multitude of options out there. You do this by creating experiences that make your customers not only enjoy your products but enjoy buying your products. You’ll need to get very clear on what your brand is and how it speaks to your customers. Not every company needs to be a high-end lifestyle brand. Maybe your brand is fun? Run contests and messaging on receipts tied to your loyalty program. Maybe your brand is value? Highlight savings on integrated store signage. You can lean into your strengths and use them to your advantage using retail technology.
Know your Customer
You can’t create the kinds of customer experience needed to compete without knowing your customers and what they want. Use your customer loyalty program to create real loyalty by not relying solely on discounts to keep customers coming back. When you rely too heavily on discounts in your program you are actually creating the opposite, you’re conditioning your customers to buy based on price not your value. Create loyalty in other ways; create a newsletter with health tips from your pharmacy suggesting items based on advanced market basket analysis, host a cooking class for your best customers based on their purchases and interests. All of this is possible with today’s algorithms powered by your POS data.
Consistency is Key
You’ve spent years building your brand to earn the trust of your customers. They know what to expect and what kind of experience they will have. You can diminish your brand by not ensuring a consistent customer experience throughout their buying decision. From social media to your ecommerce site to your buy online pickup in store (BOPIS) or delivery programs, it is very important that your customers get the same great experience throughout. If you have an ecommerce site, is it integrated into your store systems? If you have a delivery program, are customer files synchronized between systems or are there multiple sign up processes? Nothing will frustrate your customers more than having inconsistent pricing or incorrect inventory between your systems. Ensure you’re using a point of sale system that keeps data synced in real-time across your enterprise.
Keep it Personal
The NRF Big Show floor was filled with robots doing all sorts of tasks normally reserved for experienced store associates. We say let them. If a robot like those from Bossa Nova can count and reorder out of stock items, great! This will just free up your staff to provide the type of service that enables that great customer experience. Empower them. Mobile POS and inventory management devices tied to your retail management solution will allow your best staff to ensure that your customers are getting the type of service that keeps them coming back.
Retailers know that they do not want to compete against large ecommerce companies like Amazon that can always beat them on price and product availability. How does a smart retailer differentiate and compete? They create customer experiences that traditionally online only companies can’t do. From in-store demo’s to strategic pop-ups, you just can’t beat having feet on the ground and allowing customers to see, feel, hear, touch and experience your products and brand. Technology shouldn’t be a barrier to more personal customer experiences in your store. Technology should enable it. Like Doug Stephens of www.retailprophet.com tweeted:
“Instead of asking how to get more consumer data, ask what uniquely different and better experience you’d provide with it.”
Keep that advice in mind and start the 20’s off by asking yourself how you can use retail technology to create amazing customer experiences. Learn more about Auto-Star’s technology driven customer experiences for supermarket, pharmacy, health and specialty retail by visiting www.auto-star.com or calling (888) 460-6963.