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Augmented Reality and Social Shopping: Better Together

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Augmented reality – once associated with the wearing of clunky glasses and feeling disoriented – is finally coming of age. By teaming up with social media, brands have successfully implemented AR to allow prospective customers to virtually “try before they buy.”

Augmented Reality goes social

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The social media platform Snapchat may have pioneered it, but Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and TikTok quickly followed with their own lenses, filters and effects. And retailers from Target to Gucci have realized its value not only for entertainment and brand awareness, but also for selling products.

The technology was given a huge boost in the wake of the retail lockdown last year, a result of the COVID pandemic.

Stuck at home and bored, would-be shoppers wiled away the hours with AR filters and lenses available on social media. Advertisers soon took notice of how filters and lenses could be used for virtual try-on and other experiences.

Seeing how that pair of Gucci sneakers is as easy as pointing a cell phone camera at your feet. And experimenting with makeup is much less messy using Sephora’s Snapchat lens.

Developments in AR

While the technology has improved greatly recently, there are still some limitations.

For example, while a customer can visualize just how stylin’ those kicks will be, AR can’t size the shoes. That’s unfortunate, because returns are a huge sore spot for retailers, particularly those selling apparel. The issue is that today’s cameras depth perception can’t accurately determine size.

Once AR technology improves enough to reliably size clothing, demand will likely skyrocket; currently, Snapchat says it has 200M daily AR users. That could translate into millions in revenue.

Social shopping to drive in-store traffic

Well-established brands such as Sephora have the best of both virtual and physical commerce. Using Snapchat, customers can take and share pictures of themselves trying on new makeup styles.

Social shopping lets the customer’s friends weigh in on the buying decision, and the product can be purchased directly through the app.

But the experience online helps to drive in-store traffic as well. Creating a fun, memorable AR experience on a social network helps customers remember the brand, which can prompt them to visit it in-person.

Those companies become “top of mind” for particular types of products. In addition, social shopping apps can promote store events and are effective for location-based marketing as well.

Snapchat’s “ephemeral” nature helps create a sense of urgency and builds a sense of exclusivity. Today’s Generation X shoppers in particular crave exclusivity and limited-time offerings.

AR can attract the “right” buyers by providing an engaging customer experience on social media platforms. That interactivity can benefit a brick-and-mortar channel as well, by bringing attention to the brand as an innovator willing to meet customers’ needs in person as well as virtually.

Omnichannel strategies impact customers, sales, and brand growth

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Shoppers love the convenience of online shopping, but still want the benefits of visiting in-store, which is why having an omnichannel presence is so important.

A unified commerce experience means shoppers can start in-store and finish the purchase online – or vice versa. Returns are easy and customers can even plan their in-store trips with updated inventory available at a mouse click.

Driving both online and in-store sales

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Unified retail can offer the customer flexibility to shop how and when they want, while also giving them targeted and appropriate offers and recommendations that are exclusive and will enrich the overall experience. 

Digital doesn’t just drive e-commerce; it also gets people in stores. 

Smartphones have become a personal shopping assistant for people once they’re inside. Marketing strategies must therefore accommodate customers and help them buy products and services on any channel. 

Research has found that omnichannel shoppers have a 30% higher lifetime value than those who shop using only one channel. Unified retail helps convert shoppers to buyers seamlessly and with minimal effort on their part.

Stop the Silo

Many retailers are still running on systems that operate independently of each other, with data unintegrated between the two systems.

Siloed information stores information in separate databases and servers. A better system communicates between data and connects all applications, including e-commerce but also POS, back office, vendor supply chain, mobile and order management.

That type of integration can mean, for example, that inventory can easily be moved from a web warehouse to a store and associates can anticipate and plan for that shipment.

Better stock visibility and operational time savings like this can help retailers improve decision making and efficiency, which will be key to scaling brand growth.

Create Better Profiles

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With siloed data, brick and mortar retailers only see a subset of information about their customers – the part that is reflected by in-store sales. Likewise, e-commerce sites can only recommend products based on previous online purchases.

Investing in a 360-degree view of the customer provides holistic visibility and provides data on which to base predictive models.

Customer information can be varied and may include: past purchases, contact information, size preferences, website browsing history, wish list, and customer service interactions.

Armed with more complete customer profiles, retailers can shape more personalized offers and experiences, helping customers get what they need and enjoy from the retailer.

Calling all Products

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Retailers seeking to unify commerce should determine how product information should be formatted, and then consolidate all of it into a single location.

That will result in fewer redundancies and errors in product information and will allow you to trace and manage products more easily. Retailers should also invest in technology that helps associates check inventory in real-time on the sales floor.

A better handle on products and their availability will help retailers ensure customers don’t leave disappointed by out of stock situations but rather have their need met, even if via a different store in te retailer’s chain.

Unified retail is the next step in providing superior customer experiences. By implementing solutions that work to provide enhanced communication between inventory and the customer, retailers will see more robust sales and, potentially, repeat business due to a more responsive, personalized experience.

Challenges of using store inventory for online order fulfillment

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Omnichannel retailers aim to satisfy customers no matter how they choose to engage: Online, in-store or a combination of the two.

It’s never an easy feat, as success depends upon a tightly integrated front and back end in order to provide customers a seamless, successful shopping experience.

But since reopening after COVID-19 lockdowns, many retailers have had to carefully assess how they were navigating the use of store inventory for their omnichannel order fulfillment strategies.

Inventory visibility across channels

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Management of inventory is a particularly thorny issue for any retailer with an omnichannel philosophy.

The retailer must first accommodate multiple sales channels simultaneously: An online shopper must be able to “see” what products are in stock just as easily as one who is physically in the store.

Then, the retailer turns that multi-channel strategy into an omnichannel one when, for example, it allows a customer to: shop for items on a mobile device; log onto a retailer’s site hours later on a computer and access the same shopping cart; check availability online and place an order for curbside pickup.

Discrepancies in physical inventory counts

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Many retailers were able to launch – and maintain – a buy online, pickup in store (BOPIS) strategy.

However, since stores reopened, inventory counts are becoming muddled as retailers had been using store inventory to fulfill online orders.

Being able to reconcile what has just been purchased online with in-store inventory – and meeting the expectations of both types of customers — is a gargantuan task.

Customers should never see an item in stock online and discover it is sold out once they reach the store.

Some of the reasons for such discrepancies include:

Shrinkage: Shoplifting and employee theft account for substantial loss of inventory. Fraud and administrative errors are also to blame.

Data inconsistency: Online ecommerce, in-store POS systems aren’t tightly integrated or are being manually updated, so floor count may be inaccurate.

Resource strain: Sales associates are performing fulfillment tasks, so they have less time to help shoppers on the sales floor locate items.

Retail Pro platform for omnichannel retail management, inventory management, POS

Payment timing for BOPIS orders

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In addition, payment timing can cause inventory challenges. Items that are part of orders that are paid for online but picked up at a store are likely removed from inventory earlier than those that are paid at the time of pick up.

Paying before pickup not only expedites that process for ecommerce shoppers, but for those in-store as well. In-store shoppers experience longer wait times when online customers must join the line to pay and pick up their orders.

Poor fulfillment has a significant negative impact on customer retention. It is difficult to have the entire picture of what inventory is where throughout all channels.

Having accurate inventory visibility – which provides stock, order monitoring and tracking information — is crucial for a successful retail operation.

That requires a combination of technologies such as POS software tied to barcode scanners, RFID, warehouse execution software, etc.

The result is a retailer that meets, and sometimes exceeds, customers’ needs.

RFID and Your Omnichannel Inventory Management Strategy

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A successful omnichannel strategy depends upon having accurate inventory and timely order fulfillment.

Because retailers are fielding orders from different sources – including online purchases with home delivery, online purchase with an in-store pickup (“click and collect”) and in-store purchases —  keeping track of those sales and inventory is mission critical.

Omnichannel inventory management helps the customer make purchases confidently

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Robust inventory management provides the means to get the correct products to customers quickly and efficiently.

Omnichannel inventory management is integrated across all sales channels, offering clear data visibility to retailers, as well as stock information to customers. It’s often coupled with smart warehousing, which automates back-end decisions and tasks, improving employee efficiency.

Omnichannel inventory management ensures that customers who want to use different devices and buy through various platforms are able to do so successfully. Omnichannel is a unified process in which each platform communicates with another, creating a seamless whole.

While multichannel retailers sell using many platforms, most of them are unintegrated. Store and online inventory management must be integrated with your other systems, including order and CRM software.

By integrating the inventory management systems, retailers have improved data visibility. All data on sales, suppliers, returns are in one centralized location.

When orders are placed – in any channel – stock is updated in real-time. Therefore, all employees, from the inventory picker to the store manager to the customer checking online supply, can be confident in the data they access, even if the orders were placed in a different country or channel.

RFID innovates, making taking inventory fast

Despite the heavy-hitting technology omnichannel retailers rely on today to conduct their daily business, physical inventory counts continue to be invaluable.

Such counts verify inventory and ensure there are no variances caused by overages or shrinkage, for instance.

However, this activity doesn’t have to be manual. RFID technology can help speed up inventory counts while providing workflow automation.

An RFID tag is placed on stock and read with a handheld device. RFID can scan or “read” many items at once and doesn’t require line of sight.

Products or pallets can be quickly read without positioning the tag directly in front of the reader, a big advantage in warehouses or other dense environments.

How RFID further empowers omnichannel operations

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Keeping inventory counts accurate requires the integration of in-store POS that reflects the actual count on the floor, which is reflected in online data.

Although back-end technology is important to maintain accuracy, inventory is a customer-driven aspect of business.

Improving practices and systems assists retailers to meet more customers’ expectations, increase satisfaction and retain more customers.

Tailoring an omnichannel inventory management system to focus on customers helps retailers reap the benefits of having a loyal, satisfied customer base.

3 COVID-induced retail transformations that will live on post-pandemic

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Even before COVID-19 forced retailers to embrace a “new normal,” the retail landscape was changing.

Retailers were already evolving to better understand their customers’ preferred ways of shopping — the pandemic just encouraged them to move more quickly and to embrace alternate channels of commerce.

Here are a few ways retailers originally introduced to keep customers coming, but are likely to continue because of their benefits.

Transforming stores from customer-side to supply-side

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Early on in the pandemic, retail was hit with a lockdown that effectively closed storefronts.

Innovative brick and mortars transformed from being customer touchpoint locations to becoming crucial nodes in the supply system.

Temporarily closed sites became mini warehouses that could deliver products ordered online or offering click-and-collect services.

Others tested automated fulfillment centers at the back of existing stores. That flexibility made store space more productive, something retailers continue to assess.

Accelerated ecommerce growth

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With mandated store closings of physical locations, retailers focused on their ecommerce channels.

For example, fewer than one in five Western European consumers had purchased groceries online before the pandemic.

Although grocery stores were considered essential businesses and allowed to remain open during lockdown, hours of operation were reduced due primarily to low staffing, and customers felt safer ordering online and either picking up in person or having packages delivered.

For Western Europe, the impact was dramatic: According to the consultancy Alix Partners, the pandemic may have advanced those countries four to five years into the future.

A significant number of those customers who had never bought food or groceries online are likely to continue doing so, which in turn led retailers to implement digital payment methods.

Contactless payments

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In the past 15 months, the use of cash declined, due to concerns it was a means of spreading COVID-19 and other germs.

The surge in the demand for contactless payment led to outstanding performances for major companies. The offering is shifting from being “nice-to-have” to being essential.

During the past few years, U.S. shoppers have gradually decreased their use of cash.

In 2019, Experian reported that 1-in-10 millennials used their digital wallet for every purchase.

There has already been a notable decrease in cash usage over the past few years.

And nearly a third of U.S. adults said they typically make no purchase using cash during a week, according to a study by Pew Research Center.

The Forrester/NRF State of Retail Payments study, released last August, found 67 percent of retailers surveyed now accept some type of no-touch payment.

That figure includes 58 percent accepting contactless cards that can be waved past a card reader or tapped on the reader, up from 40 percent in 2019.

In addition, 56 percent take digital wallet payments on mobile phones, an increase from 44 percent.

The corona virus caused unprecedented disruption, innovative and flexible retailers created ways to continue to provide customers the products and services they needed in ways that were accessible.

They learned how to successfully navigate through difficult circumstances while still accommodating customer requests.

Those types of actions build trust, which is an essential part of getting through any crisis.

Why in-store fulfillment is a must for retail & how to pull it off with less resource strain

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Today’s customers are looking for a seamless purchasing experience, whether that’s in-store, online, or a combination of both. But the so-called “last mile” — the time it takes for a shipment to reach a customer —can be a thorn in the side of a retailer. Enter in-store fulfillment. 

Benefits of in-store fulfillment

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Mounting shipping costs are costly for retailers who are reluctant to pass them along to customers who are looking for the best price for every item, as well as free shipping. 

By offering in-store fulfillment, the delivery process can be seamless as customers choose from curbside delivery, click and collect, and buy online/return in-store options. 

Employees can address customer requests in real-time, monitor inventory, and deliver attentive service.

In-store fulfillment means retailers no longer have to route products exclusively to a warehouse.

Nordstrom and Kohl’s are excellent examples of putting the strategy into practice. 

They can fulfill orders from the store closest to the customer’s location, leveraging their stores as fulfillment centers and shipping orders directly to customers, reducing costs and speeding up deliveries.

Requirements for in-store fulfillment

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While the benefits are clear, implementing in-store fulfillment requires an omnichannel strategy in which inventory data is tightly integrated across ecommerce and the in-store POS

Ship-from-store, ship-to-store, and in-store pickup can then be handled with one solution that optimizes in-store inventory usage and reduces the time and cost for fulfilling online orders.

Perhaps the most daunting part of the process is getting a 360° view of inventory by connecting data from e-commerce sales with in-store transactions. 

Determining the correct timing for syncing online data and orders with in-store POS is vital; solutions can be configured to sync data at any interval, including real-time, hourly, nightly, or at other intervals that make sense for a retailer’s operations and network capacity.

If syncing lags, inventory can fall behind, and there’s a risk of selling out of products that have already been committed to online orders. 

With seamlessly connected channels, shoppers can buy products online and pick them up in the store that same day. 

Store associates can receive pick lists to select and package the products ordered online. 

Selecting off-the-shelf products increases inventory turn and decreases the duplication that comes with holding a separate online order inventory.

In-store fulfillment completes the frictionless purchasing experience. 

Customers get quick, free delivery — often receiving their items even faster than ordering online. 

Retailers, in turn, move inventory more rapidly, helping to maintain price stability. 

Both shoppers and retailers benefit from a more efficient customer experience.

2 Retail Uses of Artificial Intelligence in a Post-COVID World

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The amount of information collected from an in-store POS is vast. Coupled with e-commerce data gathered from online transactions, retailers can glean a pretty accurate picture of who their customers really are: their tastes, sizes, socio-economic status and demographics. 

Artificial intelligence (AI) is being used to correlate all of that information to provide an efficient, personalized experience that caters to shoppers’ preferences. 

Numerous companies are investing significantly in the technology; Meticulous Research predicts the global AI in retail market will grow 35.9% between 2019 and 2025, reaching $15.3 billion.

AI can help discern the patterns in consumer behavior that can answer the questions on every retailer’s mind: how do we keep shoppers coming back?

AI for shopper convenience

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Using AI to make sense of customer information can help retailers create efficient shopping experiences, whether that’s at a physical retail location or online. 

These types of retailer-directed experiences are particularly appealing to millennials, the first digitally native generation.

In general, the fact that millennials gravitate toward digital-first approaches puts retailers and brands under pressure to continually innovate; businesses are striving not only to know what the customers want before they reach the store, but also to have it readily available. 

Retailers that create an atmosphere of convenience and ease are generally rewarded with repeat business. 

That was perhaps most evident at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, when customers turned to e-commerce because of the ease of filling their shopping needs, from clothing to groceries to cleaning supplies. For 15 months, online ordering surged. 

In response, brick and mortar retailers expanded their channels, and many that once eschewed online orders quickly found significant revenue gains by allowing customers to place orders online and collect them curbside. 

Now, as retailers emerge from the past year with new methods of meeting customer needs, they also have found themselves possessing significantly more shopper data. 

Personalized promotions

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Retailers can use AI to build effective marketing campaigns that can not only help shoppers find the products they are looking for, but also to discover others they didn’t even know they wanted. 

Product intelligence plus customer data combined with AI can produce targeted marketing and promotions that can encourage loyalty, increase return visits, and increase conversion rates. 

Online, AI can help decrease bounce rates and improve engagement on the website by using personalized recommendations and banners. 

AI can help retailers provide the personalized experience customers receive online when they are shopping in stores. 

For example, AI cameras and sensors can record when an item is placed back after a customer selects it. 

If that action is a trend, the manager can decide if the item should be displayed elsewhere, in an effort to provide it more visibility. 

Better forecasting

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AI-driven tools analyzing Retail Pro POS data help retailers understand who their consumers are, which allows them to provide personalized offers and deals. 

Business analytics provide valuable insight into customer demographics, peak operation hours, buying trends and inventory. 

Retailers can examine purchasing history from POS transactions to determine what influences customers’ buying habits. 

By integrating automation from AI-driven POS systems in multiple sales channels — online, in-store, apps, etc. — retailers can more clearly understand their customers’ experiences and continue to refine them to better suit their needs. 

Understanding Key Performance Indicators

As a retailer in a competitive marketplace, a major focus should be monitoring the health of your business. For most retailers this means getting a handle on your Key Performance Indicators, or KPIs.

Defining KPIs

A KPI is a metric that is designed to give you a quick snapshot of some aspect of your business. A KPI might be a measure of sales, customer activity, or financial strength.

More than simply a bottom line number, a KPI is usually expressed as a comparison with some other factor. For example, looking at the average sale per customer gives you an understanding of the potential value of each customer.

Which KPIs should I track?

There are hundreds of KPIs that a retail business owner could be using at any one time. If an activity can be tracked and measured in your store, a KPI can be developed to provide you with business intelligence. One of the challenges is to decide on a handful of KPIs that provide you with the most valuable information based on the goals and objectives of your operation.

Every retailer will have a different set of KPIs. For example, a business that uses commissioned sales associates to sell to customers may place a heavy emphasis on KPIs that track the effectiveness of an individual sales associate while these KPIs may be irrelevant for another retail business.

You may want to track KPIs related to your customers. Simply knowing the number of customers who enter the store each day may not be enough for you. You may want to gain a deeper understanding about your customer’s shopping patterns and what converts them from a casual shopper into a dedicated, returning customer.

To do this, you need to carefully consider what data you should collect and analyze.

Choosing the right data

Data, by itself, is not a KPI until it’s arranged in a meaningful way. A list of sales transactions throughout the day is good data to have but it’s not the whole picture. The next step might be to calculate the total dollar amount of sales for the day. You can arrange the data in any number of ways: sales by department, sales by item, or sales by cashier. At this point, you still only have data to analyze.

The strength of KPIs is knowing how to use data to gain a competitive advantage. It all comes down to the goals and objectives you set for your business.

For each goal you establish, you must also create the metric that will determine if you are successful in reaching that goal. Your KPIs become the method by which you track your progress. If your key performance indicators do not reflect progress toward your goal, you must change the tactics you are using in your business.

Using raw data to optimize your retail operations

Let’s look at one simple example of how your goals and KPIs come together to give you a competitive advantage.

Marlene runs a small clothing store in a mid-size urban market. Lately things have been going good but the business has leveled off. She would like to increase her business over the next year. She creates a goal to increase her sales by 10%.

Marlene realizes that an obvious KPI is her total sales. She can also break down her sales on a daily, weekly, monthly, or quarterly basis to compare with the previous year. This gives her the maximum degree of flexibility especially since her sales tend to fluctuate according to well-defined fashion seasons.

Marlene decides that a good strategy would be to do more advertising on radio and television during the coming year. To find out if the advertising is bringing customers into the store, she decides to track footfall, the number of people coming into the store. Fortunately, she tracked her traffic last year but if she didn’t, she could use the new data by correlating store traffic with the dates and times that advertising is running to see if the ads have an immediate effect.

If she notices that store traffic increases for a few days after a television ad appears, she may make more strategic choices about when to run television ads. Or she may be sure to have a special sale during the weekend following a big flood of advertising.

By tracking average customer spend, Marlene can determine how much the average customer spends during each purchase transaction. In order to increase sales, she decides to place some displays with accessories, scarves, and jewelry close to the cash registers. The strategy works and she notices that her average customer spend amount increases due to impulse purchases while customers are waiting in line.

Although her total sales KPI indicates some overall growth, Marlene is not satisfied with the progress she is making. She begins to track her conversion rate, the number of transactions throughout the day divided by the number of people who enter the store. This seems to indicate that a lot of people are coming into the store but not many are making purchases.

To combat this, she could implement a number of new strategies. Perhaps she should take a look at rotating her inventory more frequently so the styles are kept fresh. She might decide that she needs to add new merchandise. Eventually, Marlene decides to hire additional staff to take more time with the customers and help them pick out merchandise.

To maximize the effectiveness of her new employees, she tracks shopper to staff ratio. This KPI lets Marlene determine if she has the appropriate number of employees on the sales floor to handle the volume of shoppers. Monitoring her wage costs, which is wages paid divided by the total sales, will also help her monitor her costs.

As her business grows, Marlene may decide to implement different strategies or develop completely new goals for her business. These goals and strategies may necessitate new KPIs to help her determine if they are effective. As her needs change, so will her data collection requirements and so will the way she analyses that data.

Tracking KPIs in your Retail Pro

Retailers using Retail Pro have several built-in tools to help them track important KPIs easily and automatically, including pre-designed reports that can be accessed in Retail Pro Reports.

Filters allow you to easily report on different aspects of your operation and break down your data into different segments to allow you to take a birds-eye view or get down into the weeds.

Retail Pro reports can also be completely customized. This allows you to save time and money by adapting an existing report to show exactly the information you need without a lot of work and effort.

From inside Retail Pro, you can use customer or inventory statistics to gain more perspective.

X-Out and graphical reports allows you to look at sales activity throughout the day and get instant analysis.

Have a different KPI that makes your retail life easier, or have questions about KPIs? Email us at training@retailpro.com with your comments and questions.

Happy tracking!

Build your omnichannel operations on Retail Pro Prism

Retail Pro Prism is fully customizable, integrable POS and retail omnichannel operations management software that helps retailers improve efficiency in inventory, customer, and store operations management across channels.

Whether you operate as a franchise, corporate store, outlet, or multi-subsidiary retailer, you can overcome data fragmentation and configure Retail Pro to your exact workflow, branding, and business needs.

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Full-Featured Enterprise POS

Expand what your POS can do with complete access to customer details, gift card balances and promotions while benefiting from native offline capability and enhanced security.

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Integrated Software

Use open APIs to integrate data from third-party solutions including ecommerce, loyalty, ERP, CRM, accounting, and any other tool you use.

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Omnichannel Order Fulfillment

Create sales at one location and fulfill the order at any other location, as part of your BOPIS, Click and Collect or other omnichannel efforts.

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Browser-Based POS for Uncompromised Mobility

Empower associates to complete transactions and inventory tasks anywhere on the sales floor with your choice of Windows, Android, or iOS devices.

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Configurable User Interface

Increase transaction speed and efficiency by customizing
the user interface with your exact checkout workflow
and preferences.

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Centralized Inventory Management

Save time on inventory management with robust style definition grids and centralized control that allows you to have complete visibility across all locations and online.

Automated Replenishment & Transfers

Increase inventory turn and keep your shelves fully stocked with automated inventory transfers between stores and best replenishment features.

Contact us today to schedule your full demo and needs analysis.

Enhancing the In-Store Shopping Experience With a Loyalty Program

Guest post from Antavo

In-store promotions are designed to attract customers to brick-and-mortar stores, build brand or product awareness and provide benefits that online shopping simply just cannot give them. If customers are not visiting the store they might be missing out on special promotions, discounts or free giveaways. 

Also when customers shop at a local business, they are strengthening the local economy as well. 

In order to compete with eCommerce, loyalty programs for physical stores have to be more than just membership cards. Creating a loyalty program is a great way to effectively strengthen your brand image, connect with your customers, improve your retention and drive more in-store sales. Following the pandemic touchless solutions are playing an essential role in the in-store experience. It is crucial that retailers show customers that they are invested in their safety as stores reopen.

Enroll Customers Into Your Loyalty Program In-Store In a Fun Way

Show customers how your in-store location is just as enjoyable as shopping online by:

  • Vivifying the thrills of shopping in person via allowing your customers to browse your online shop in your physical location 
  • Implementing click and collect 
  • Making sure your physical and digital stores work together
  • Letting your customers interact with your products 

Also, reward your returning customers with a loyalty program by offering discounts after a certain amount of visits, access to special in-store events and other perks. If they like the program they are more likely to recommend your store to friends and their families.  Special offers by push notifications, personalized offers will help you enhance brand experience. 

Bridge the gap between offline and online customer interactions with digital loyalty cards, which is an effective solution to boost in-store engagement and reach more customers through location-based messages, thereby driving multiple business KPIs.

Experiential Retail 

According to a study by Deloitte experience has become the differentiating factor for businesses. Over 50 percent of customers say that the overall enjoyment of the shopping experience was important when making their final decision. When customers visit a store and are offered experiences such as large video display walls, a cafe, kids’ corner, virtual reality they will want to return. All these create a memorable experience and soar customer expectations.

Retailers can engage with in-store customers by enriching the offline customer journey, by offering them fun, easy and convenient ways to interact with gamified features. For instance, an offline treasure hunt, where customers need to find marked treasures or products inside the store, then use their mobile to scan the item’s barcode for a reward. You can prompt customers to thoroughly inspect the whole store, ensuring that they discover products or sections they would have overlooked otherwise. Send customers a push notification inviting them to play a fun game and win rewards. A Prize Wheel is ideal for mobile apps if you prefer touchless engagement for in-store devices. Showcase the prize wheel on an in-store device to instantly catch customers’ attention. Customers can approach the wheel and take a spin, giving you a new way to engage them.

A Prize Wheel is ideal for mobile apps and for in-store devices as well.
After spinning the wheel and landing on a reward, customers are asked to log in or enroll in the loyalty program to redeem it. This ensures that they identify themselves while shopping.

QR Codes  

Implementing a touch-free solution like QR codes on brochures or on signages in different areas of the shop, on the counter or in the dressing rooms, is a great way to make customers aware of your loyalty program. You might consider putting a QR code on the tags of your most popular products, so customers can scan it with their phone and receive a reward in return such as a small gift at the counter or a sum of loyalty points. Make sure to let the customer know that upon scanning the QR code they get rewarded.

DSW, the American branded footwear and accessories retailer featured QR codes on their magazine ads to engage customers. When customers scan the QR code they are taken to the DSW’s mobile site, where they can find the store nearest to them to view the products in person, check their order status, view DSW’s rewards program, and redeem their loyalty points, or make a purchase then pick up their order curbside, completely contactless.

The visual design of Timberland’s Manhattan flagship store
The NFC technology helped Timberland increase customer engagement. The store could track, analyze and interpret their shoppers’ behavior

NFC Technology

NFC technology is a great way to spice up in-store customer engagement. With its help, you can create novel in-store experiences. It allows retailers to connect quickly and easily with customers at every step of the customer journey. In a loyalty program, NFC enables people to use their smartphones to interact with store-exclusive loyalty program features. 

In Timberland’s Manhattan flagship store around 50 percent of the store’s inventory had been equipped with NFC tags. Upon tapping information about the product came up on the screen. The NFC tag was integrated to collect data from the customer. The store started adding credit for customers who signed in on the tablets, adding an extra touch to the customized shopping experience.

Beacon Technology

Beacon technology boosts customer experience by increasing efficiency, providing money savings, convenience, inspiration, and personalization. With targeted ads and brand offers, notifications and greetings on special occasions, you can add value while increasing trust. With just a single beacon near the entrance of a store, you could send a promotional notification to the user whenever they enter it or track how many users come to the store in a specific timeframe. 

Target, the American retail corporation, is using beacon technology to help in-store customers to use Target’s app to create shopping lists, and then see where items are located in-store. As they move, their location changes in real-time, showing them whether they’re getting farther or closer to the product.

Target’s application will show your location on the map
The new Target application will actually show your own location on the map, as indicated by a blinking dot. As you move through the store, your location will update, too. (Source: TechCrunch

Introduce a Kiosk In-store

Self-service kiosks are a rising component of in-store technology. It gives customers the possibility to shop for both the physical and online product offerings. They help shoppers gather information and speed up the shopping process. In-store kiosks are also a great way to promote a loyalty program. You can either set up a kiosk where waiting customers typically gather or offer priority lanes as a members-only feature. It is also an excellent solution to make sure customers are entertained while standing in line. 

In order to help the customer as much as possible in finding products and to prevent lost sales, the ANWB,  a travelers’ association in the Netherlands, needed a new solution to offer customers products that are not yet in stock. The kiosk has almost the same performance as the webshop on a PC, but the navigation especially works in terms of visual language and icons.  By adding NFC technology to the kiosk retailers can ensure contactless touch screens for the customers making in-store shopping even safer in the post-pandemic world.

ANWB’s in-store kiosk makes sure that their full online catalog is accessible
With the in-store kiosk ANWB makes sure that their full online catalog is accessible. (Source: Kega)

Sales Associates

Obviously, human interaction has a great impact on a customer’s emotional connection to a retailer. It will be especially of outstanding significance following the pandemic when everyone is craving a return to normal face-to-face communication. Well-trained sales associates can help boost loyalty program membership rates, as one of the easiest ways to inform your customers about your loyalty program and how their today’s transaction will get them closer to earning exciting rewards.

The Douglas perfumery chain’s loyalty card, called the Beauty Card, makes it possible for the company to serve their customers in a much more personalized way both online and offline. Besides offering several benefits, such as birthday surprises, product samples and invitations to exclusive events. They also offer makeup refreshing, skincare services, and beauty tips in-store.

A sales associate is giving makeup tips to a customer in a Douglas store.
In Douglas stores, customers can collect Beauty Points on their Beauty Card with each purchase, regardless of where it takes place, at the brick-and-mortar store, online or via their smartphone. (Source: ixtenso)

Brick-and-Mortars Coming Back to Life

Following COVID-19 face-to-face interactions will be receiving an even greater emphasis, as customers are hungry for communication. As shopping has evolved dramatically over the past several decades, the competition between retailers is fiercer than ever. Customer buying behavior is constantly shifting, not only when it comes to in-store shopping but online shops have also joined the race for customers, providing them with more choice and convenience. 

Nevertheless, it is important not to overlook your stores as a crucial touchpoint in generating long-term customer loyalty. While customers are growing more comfortable with online shopping every day, the in-store experience isn’t going away anytime soon.








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Points of Sale