Retailers don’t need a crystal ball to nail shoppers’ desires.
In a time in which brick-and-mortar traffic is declining and consumers are becoming more demanding, technology is here to fulfill memorable shopping experiences.
At NRF 2017, Intel CEO Brian Krzanich said technology could bring retailers’ focus back on the consumer. With the incorporation of virtual reality (VR), data analytics and digital logistics, brands will be able to bring back shoppers and transform the brick-and-mortar visit.
“When we look at the customer experience, we ask, how can we create experiences that give the customers more control and how does the retailer get more information?” Krzanich said.
Technology impacts the retail environment in three ways—it reinvents the in-store experience, allows retailers to comprehend analytics to understand consumer behavior and creates the store of the future where data is seamlessly incorporated on all levels.
“The idea here is a simple basic application,” Krzanich said. “There are millions of devices in consumers’ hands today that could have amazing retail experiences.”
Virtual reality is one way retailers can gain back consumer loyalty. With VR, the consumer can create their own world at home and at their favorite stores. In terms of transforming retail, VR allows consumers to engage with a shopping environment without leaving their location.
Shopper MX, a virtual reality solutions provider, offers retailers customized virtual research services. It can improve store plans in three ways. First, a planogram enables retailers to visualize what shoppers see in store aisles. Shopper MX then provides retailers with the ability to predict analytics. With this VR technology, retailers can determine what shoppers will see naturally in the first five seconds they observe a shelf. Retailers can also overlay actual sales data as well and comprehend the top ten product sales in the store.
Data analytics are also available for retailers that need better consumer insights. Old methods of information gathering, including surveys and paper inventory records, are often inaccurate and don’t enable retailers’ opportunities to understand shopper behavior. Today, retailers may access a wide variety of information and take advantage of it to improve consumers’ experiences.
“One of the things changing is that any type of retailer can take this data legally and utilize it, Krzanich said. “Those who grab the data will be the ones that really flourish in the next generation of retail.”
Data analytics also aren’t limited to computers and handheld devices. Autonomous robots, including Simbe Robotics’ Tally, are available for retailers that want to streamline store operations and refocus their energies on consumers.
Tally works on the sales floor alongside employees and shoppers. It has the ability to audit shelves for pricing errors, lost items and out-of-stock items. The robot’s API and cloud-powered software platform enables retailers to reduce operational expenses, streamline store performance and maximize customer satisfaction. With Tally, retailers won’t risk loosing shoppers over misplaced or sold-out items.
Digitizing inventory processes also goes a long way for heightening consumer experiences. Logistics is a lengthy and time-consuming process that often causes retailers to allocate employees to backstock instead of helping shoppers in stores.
Levi Strauss & Co. EVP and president of global retail Carrie Ask discussed how retailers must change their logistics processes to prioritize the consumer experience.
“In-store inventory insights, especially shelf levels in-stock and inventory accuracy are an age old problem for retail,” she said. “As a retailer and as an industry, we can no longer accept this.”
Levi Strauss & Co. teamed up with Intel to establish the next generation of inventory technology. Both parties transformed in-store technology with RFID tags, Intel-powered sensors and cloud-based analytics. Each technology works to alert store staff about low inventory or if shoppers prefer a particular item. By implementing this advanced inventory solution, Levi Strauss & Co. was able to gain valuable insights about their consumers and how they navigate the company’s brick-and-mortar location.
“While store traffic is declining, we discovered something else,” Ask said. “We discovered purchase intent of consumers visiting stores is rising.”
While retail remains an unstable landscape, technology could empower retailers to stay relevant to consumers. With VR, data analytics and digital logistics, technology could be a potential save for retailers who are struggling to keep their brick-and-mortar locations lively. Consumers at the end of the day are still searching for their dream item, so retailers have nothing to loose when it comes to better in-store experiences.