3 Technologies Retailers Need In 2016
As we are in the last hours of 2015, it seems like an ideal time to reflect on three technologies that made a large impact on retailers this year, and that are poised to make a “huge”— to use a word commonly used by one certain presidential candidate — impact in 2016. Retailers looking to increase visibility as well as revenue should consider these implementations.
1. Beacons and geofencing
Beacons give retailers visibility over foot traffic, in addition to the ability to push relevant information to consumers’ smartphones.
Geofencing lets retailers promote products when shoppers enter a specific, predetermined area. It’s not difficult to see how these technologies can complement each other and drive quality customers through the door. However, geofencing works best when used in combination with beacon technology, and can provide a more complete view of customer behavior. Retailers are beginning to see the potential; according to luxurydaily.com, investment in geofencing will reach $300 million by 2017. The challenge for retailers is to get customers to enable location services and bluetooth on their smartphones. Such services use battery power and, to some, bring up privacy issues. Given the proper incentives by retailers, much of that resistance can be overcome.
Yes, this technology has been around–and around. But it’s time to shine has finally arrived. Juniper Research recently reported
that Internet of things (IoT) technologies will be implemented by far more retailers in 2016; the firm expects merchants will spend an estimated $2.5 billion in hardware and installation costs, nearly a fourfold increase over this year’s estimated $670 million spend. And RFID is a part of that investment. RFID helps retailers with in real-time asset tracking, reduced labour costs and even dynamic pricing according to stock levels and online pricing. Software applications are catching up to what this veteran technology can offer. Linking the potential capabilities of RFID tags with beacons and geofencing promises more thorough business insight and an improved customer experience.
3. BOPIS: Buy online, pick up in store
Shoppers are looking for ways to streamline their lives, just like retailers want to make their operations more efficient. By facilitating “strategic strikes” — shopping trips that are meant for specific items, in which the customer is a buyer, not a shopper — retailers cultivate goodwill. A customer who knows a trip for a specific green sweater will be met with success and will require minimal waiting on a checkout line is likely to return. Look for BOPIS to evolve to include curbside pickup. Target and Kroger recently rolled out curbside pickup services in some locations, while Sears has expanded its in-vehicle curb services to include returns and exchanges. Curbside services acknowledge that the customer is patronizing the store for a specific reason and does not want to go inside. Rather than fight that fact and risk antagonizing customers with offers to “come inside for…” smart retailers are accommodating the desire to pick up merchandise and leave. They recognize that they’ll be back again, either for a quick trip or an extended visit. Either way, a sale is a sale.