There’s a new technology revolution, and it’s about to fundamentally transform the way you do business. Seriously. Ever heard of cloud-based POS systems? If you haven’t, you’re already on your way out. Walking into some of the more trendy stores these days won’t surprise you. Everything minimalistic – even the checkout counter.
What’s that? It’s an iPad being held by a clerk? He’s not playing Angry Birds on that thing. He’s taking cash and ringing out the customer. Amazing. Yep, this is what it’s come to. And, these are the technology trends that are changing the face of retail forever.
Cross-Channel One-To-One Engagement
It’s not enough to have a retail store location anymore. It’s not even enough to have a website. Shoppers want a seamless shopping experience. They don’t want to feel like they’re going online and getting a special deal just because it’s online. They want a shopping experience where they can walk into a store, buy a product, return it via mail if it’s not something they like, or buy it online and take it in to a physical store to get the rebate or a refund.
The web and the real world need to converge this year, and that’s what many retailers are starting to do. It’s a sort of “augmented reality.”In fact, some retailers are even using actual augmented reality apps for iPhone and Android devices. Users walk into the store, point their camera at a product, and pull reviews of that product up on their phone or tablet.
They can search for information about the product, compare against competing products, and even get specs that might not be listed on the manufacturer’s packaging.
Content is king. You’ve heard that before, right? Well, guess what? It’s not just about content online. Retailers need to learn how to make the traditional in-store buying experience an experience. Shoppers want to be entertained while they’re online shopping and while they’re in the store. Retailers who succeed at this will provide in-store-only events and services that will create a point of differentiation from online shopping.
Since most everyone is on at least one social networking site, it makes sense to keep your finger on the pulse of social media. Social curation is the name of the game, and it’s something that more and more retailers will take up this year. Product introduction and performance will be intimately tied to social media, with companies tracking performance in near real-time based on social analytics.
Even the iPad POS app on iTunes is a full-featured point-of-sale app that gives you control over advanced analytics. What kind of analytics? Imagine being able to buy a product on discount based on its real-time demand. That’s what retailers will start doing with Big Data this year.
Digital pricing is expected to replace the more traditional static or “analog”pricing where price tags rule the showroom floor. Instead of changing prices once per week, or once per quarter, they can be updated once an hour or once a minute.
Everyone’s Going Mobile
Mobile businesses used to be something of a fringe model. Not anymore. Even bee keepers selling honey have learned the invaluable benefits of iPad sales terminals – selling their sweet treats at local farmer’s markets using nothing more than an electronic tablet.
But, while many businesses see this business model as an exception to the rule, other businesses are warming up to the idea that it’s going to become a necessary fact of existence. Consumers are shifting away from buying goods and services on their laptop. They’re using tablets and mobile phones instead. In 2013, mobile shopping accounted for roughly 17 percent of Cyber Monday shopping.
That’s an increase of 55 percent over the previous year, according to manufacturer IBM. This trend is expected to continue this year and, while mobile still accounts to a very small share of U.S. retail sales, it’s also a new technology.
The percentage of consumers using smartphones and tablets is growing. Even financial institutions are opening up to the idea of using mobile wallets for payments, and these are some of the most conservative operations in the world.
Rita Lawlor is a retail entrepreneur with an obsession for business technology. When not putting employee management software and innovative devices to the test, she often blogs about the ins and outs of a successful retail business in the modern market.
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