Troubled by Tech – Is Retail Doomed?


Technology evolves faster than humans can process it – much less apply it! So, with the avalanche of electronic assistance available, it’s no wonder you wonder whether your retail outlet is doomed. After all, if you can’t keep up with customer demands for ease and convenience, how will your store survive - much less ride the tide?

To tech or not to tech?

With a slew of options for moving your store into the future, it isn’t a matter of IF you will adopt new tech - it’s more a matter of WHICH new tech you will adopt. After all, you know what happens to people who try to be all things to all people.

So, it’s time to take an honest look at what’s available and assemble a technology puzzle that makes sense for your unique business.

What are the pieces?

1.       Smart Devices

From smart homes, that turn lights on and off automatically to hubs that automatically order groceries, automation reigns in the modern home. This means retailers need to think about which of these pieces makes sense in their environment AND in their inventories. For example, payment by smartwatch may make sense for home furnishings retail – as would a collection of items that are compatible with smart home systems.

2.       Beacons

These tiny devices deliver messages to smart phones within a certain radius. The messaging could be deal related or provide shoppers with product data about a certain sofa or collection. With this, the customer gets the information/value they desire without additional effort from your sales team.

3.       Videos

Whether streaming or AR, video is an outstanding way of sharing product data and other viable information easily and on-demand. Positioned throughout the store or delivered via beacon, the customer can view the product benefits, details and functionality without waiting on a sales associate for assistance. This makes the customer journey easy, streamlined and efficient.

4.       Alternate Payment Options

Today’s check-out systems are more efficient and user-friendly, with payment systems that support digital wallets in addition to cards. Some apps, like Sam’s Club Scan & Go, allows guests to complete their own check out for faster service and no wait. This experience leaves guests feeling happier with their overall experience – which drives loyalty and higher tickets in the future.

How do I put these pieces together?

There’s no one-size-fits-all solution for updating the technology of your store. The best rule of thumb is common sense.

Notice customer behavior. Are they reaching for phones when it’s time to pay? Upgraded point-of-sale systems may be your first choice. Of course, if they’re referencing their phones on the sales floor and looking around for a sales associate, beacons may be your first choice.

In the store of the future, the technology exists to make the customer experience faster, easier and more streamlined. It’s not about the “cool” factor. Begin your technology research by watching your guests. When you apply the right technology to meet their needs, you’ll have an easier time targeting specific customers, offering personalized deals, creating brand loyalty and driving higher sales.

So, don’t worry! Retail isn’t dying at the hands of technology. It’s simply evolving to make the in-store experience as seamless and easy as buying online.