Bringing Technology into Retail
Hundreds of department stores across North America have shut their doors for good with predictions of more than a quarter of shopping malls following suit in the next four years. Brand giants such as Sears, Toys ‘R’ Us, Lord and Taylor, Saks Fifth Avenue, Nine West, and Claire’s have all closed in the U.S or filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protections. None of these retailers were able to adapt to the new digital era.
Investors look to the future – pressuring precariously footed companies such as HBC to sell more of its leases and properties.
Online shopping is here to stay as digital marketplaces are a win-win for both consumers and marketers. The exchange of information during a purchase is where the true value lies- consumer data streaming to retailers, and product information, reviews, and suggestions streaming to customers.
Amazon’s crowd-source method of information compilation, in the form of ratings and reviews, has made it the absolute leader in online retail.
Brick and Mortar stores are missing opportunities to incorporate more aspects of the online experience in physical box stores.
Here are a few ways that physical retailers are providing customers with some of the perks of online shopping:
With a mixture of Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) and Near Field Communication (NFC) technology, retailers are updating their checkout counters to include wireless, contactless payment options. Store owners have the option of updating their systems or upgrading their existing terminals through SIM cards which grant Bluetooth capabilities to moneris machines. This SIM cards can be easily retrofitted into existing Point of Sale terminals.
Bringing proximity technology into stores has the added bonus of facilitating loyalty and bonus programmes for shoppers. Along with a store mobile app, proximity technology like Bluetooth Beacons may be deployed around a retail space to “geofence” micro-locations. When a shopper walks by a cosmetic display, the proximity detector within a nearby beacon communicates with the shopper’s mobile app and can trigger an event – a digital coupon appears, extra product information is displayed, product suggestions are delivered. Coupons can be paired with loyalty and reward programs to provide retailers with voluntary customer information to aid in the development of targeted marketing and advertising campaigns.
Informed Decision Making:
Part of the draw of online shopping are the helpful product reviews. Store applications and proximity technology provide a similar service – pushing product reviews onto a customer’s mobile phone and solidifying purchasing decision. On the other side, store owners are able to see real-time footfall traffic, live heat-maps, and reorganize displays and store layouts accordingly.
The first step in incorporating proximity-based marketing and advertising in-store is assessing the needs of your customers.
- How can you combine the needs of your customers with your business goals?
- Do your customers want way-finding services? Product information? Touch-free payment?
- Do you want to target customers in specific aisles, at discrete displays, as they enter, or as they leave your store?
These questions will guide you towards one of two types of deployment: Grid-based and Point-based.
Point-based Bluetooth beacon deployment:
What is Point-based beacon deployment?
Point-based deployment systems are perfect for engaging with your customers at specific places or points. This type of deployment requires fewer beacons than a grid-based system. Museums, public spaces, theatres, venues, retail shelves, and tourist attractions are all examples of environments with points of interest.This style of marketing is context-aware and personalized. A 1000 square foot space would require roughly 20 beacons.. The value of automating welcome messages, distributing coupons, and collecting customer opinions far outweighs set-up and hardware costs.
Grid-based Bluetooth beacon deployment:
What is a Grid-based beacon deployment?
Grid-based deployments are better at determining a customer’s position precisely in a tight space. A customer’s position can be calculated through trilateration using three or more beacons. This type of deployment does more for businesses, providing owners with analytics, indoor positioning systems, and way-finding capabilities for applications. Grid-based is “future-proof”. Retailers can use the same infrastructure for a variety of use-cases – to utilize grid-based deployments to monitor figures such as unique visitors, number of visitors, dwell times, footfalls, beacon interactions, and advertising click-throughs. Six beacons would be the minimum required for a 1000 square foot space.
Equipped with these emerging technologies, retailers may be able to stem the tide of customers flowing out of stores and onto online shopping hubs like Amazon, Alibaba, and Ebay. By bringing the Internet of Things and all its perks into stores, retailers have a shot at retaining in-store footfall traffic.