When it comes to the retail landscape, many organizations are looking for new ways to boost traffic in their physical location. The sheer number of online platforms available at the consumer's fingertips makes it easier than ever for customers to make a purchase from the comfort of their home. However, brick-and-mortar locations still offer a number of benefits that cannot be had when shopping digitally. So the question becomes, how can merchants take the benefits that are already there and increase them to help drive traffic?
In a recent blog post for Forrester Research, analyst JP Gownder — who serves infrastructure and operations professionals — examined how infrastructure and the latest technologies will be pushing traffic into brick-and-mortar locations. This includes Burberry tags merchandise with radio frequency identification (RFID) chips, which activate videos and product details through screens embedded in mirrors at its flagship store, and Apple's iBeacon allows mobile phones or wearable devices to interact with sensors inside a retail location.
While these are just how a small handful of organizations are operating, it points to a potential larger trend that will impact how consumer interact with their retail locations.
"You should begin to closely track — and to pilot — a number of emerging technologies that can help your company attract, retain, and serve customers," Gownder wrote. "Currently, myriad solutions exist; as one start-up vendor told me, 'there are so many new technologies out there, it's hard for buyers to decide where to place their bets, so we just try to get our products into trial to prove the value.'"
This can happen in a few different ways, including:
- Hyperlocal – This would be a system like the iBeacon where organizations engage customers when they are close to the products.
- Target – The use of facial recognition technology that can provide coupons or other discounts that can are given out when you walk in based on feeling.
- Interactivity – With mobile devices and the right apps, it is possible for organizations to engage customers like never before.
- Wearable – Have employees in Google Glass, allowing them to access information to answer customer questions much quicker than before.
For these systems to be successful, however, they need to have the right infrastructure behind them. Using a decade old network will not be able to support these latest technologies. This goes for large sweeping changes like adding RFID tags or something on a smaller level like the inclusion of a cloud-based point of sale solution.
Gownder concluded the the best course of action for merchants to take is to partner with an experienced retail solution provider to that can help a company examine these emerging technologies and determine which will be the best course of action for their specific organizations needs. He added that organizations can't afford to stay put and wait. One retailer told him that "tech trends are moving too fast for us to wait — we need to start learning now."
By partnering with an experienced retail solution provider, any organization can start small and deploy the latest credit card POS software solutions and take immediate steps into the digital realm.