3 Technologies To Ring In the Retail Year
Retailing incorporates an enormous amount of customer-facing technology, perhaps more so than any other market segment. While other segments certainly use technology, for example, manufacturing, the focus is mainly interna: How can we build things better? In retail, not only do stores depend on technology to reduce costs and improve efficiency, but they also use technology to engage and attract customers. For retail, technology is all-encompassing.
As we look to 2015, a number of technologies will emerge as those best suited to helping retailers achieve their business goals — and that is the true test of technologies worth investing in. Here are three worth noting.
Proximity marketing. Sometimes called “hyperlocal marketing.” this is a successful method of enticing nearby customers — who are equipped with Bluetooth- (or WiFi-) enabled smartphones and have opted in to your marketing program — into a store. In other words, proximity marketing simply uses cellular technology to send marketing messages to mobile-device users who are in close vicinity to a business. Stores are sending ads to customers most likely to buy: They are previous customers who have agreed to receive these messages, and are close to the store. It’s far more targeted than a business who sends a text blast every Thursday to every customer who has opted-in to its marketing program, because of its ability to hone in on location. That text message is unlikely to get the guy who’s washing his car to drop his bucket and run to the store to save 15% on a pair of jeans. But if that guy is 15 feet from the store entrance, he just might go in and make a purchase. NinthDecimal (formerly JiWire) reports that 53% of consumers are willing to share their current location to receive more relevant advertising, and, 63% of consumers feel a coupon is the most valuable form of mobile marketing.
RFID. A properly implemented RFID system pretty much guarantees stock information is accurate. Each item is
unique, easily identifiable and can be registered with no human intervention. The fashion industry is benefiting greatly from RFID. Take, for example, American Apparel. According to a blog on RFID Arena, this retailer normally supplies online sales from the warehouse. However, when an item is not available in the warehouse, the system checks different stores' stock levels, finds the item and allocates the order to the appropriate store. The stores become mini-distributors by packing and shipping the goods to the customers. This has a direct impact on customer satisfaction, and is possible because of RFID. With the growing popularity of click and collect — shoppers buying online but wishing to pickup their items in-store — RFID tracking will become even more mission critical to retailers.
Mobile Wallets. Finally, shoppers in the U.S. will embrace mobile wallets, most likely enticed by Apple Pay, available on the iPhone6. Chevron gas stations, for example, have announced they will start accepting the payment early in 2015. Sure, Google Wallet has been around since 2011, but it took the genius of Apple’s marketing to show consumers how simple — and secure — the technology can be. The “tap to pay” phenomenon may reach a tipping point soon. No longer spooked by security breaches at retailers including Target, Home Depot, and Michaels, customers appear comfortable with the new technology. Because Apple’s system, for example, doesn’t save transaction information, customers are less apprehensive about using it to make a purchase at a store.
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