Every year on Black Friday (the post-Thanksgiving shopping day that ushers in the Christmas buying season), millions of people wake up at 3 a.m. and drive to malls and big-box stores. For hours, they stand outside in the dark and the cold, hoping to score incredible deals.
But they’re not really there to save money. The best prices often pop up closer to Christmas Day, and most deals can be snagged online. In reality, people go shopping on Black Friday for an experience they can’t get on Cyber Monday: the chance to get in early on the hustle and bustle of the holiday season.
Creating a unique shopping experience is key for physical stores looking to compete with their online peers. Several valuable technologies can help retailers deliver the experience shoppers demand.
How Inventory Management Can Make Customers Happy
When I needed to buy a new fish tank recently, I drove to a brick-and-mortar retailer. I could have bought the item for less money online, but I wanted the experience of seeing and touching the tank in person. Before I got in my car, though, I checked the store’s website to make sure it had the product in stock.
Solutions such as radio frequency identification tagging and smart shelves — tied into customer-facing portals like websites and mobile apps — can help shoppers learn whether the store they plan to shop in has the merchandise they’re looking for. Preventing customer disappointment is a useful way to improve the shopping experience.
The Power of Self-Service
Self-service displays give customers the power to instantly obtain useful information on their own, including product details and aisle location. This not only makes stores more efficient by using technology to deliver services previously provided by employees, but also prevents customers from experiencing confusion and frustration when they need help.
Mobile Point-of-Sale Puts Sales in Motion
Creating an experience doesn’t mean you have to put an amusement park inside your store. Often, what seem like small details can make or break a shopping trip. For example, when I walk past a store in the mall and see a line stretching seven or eight people deep, I’m not going to venture inside, even if I need something there. I simply don’t want the experience of standing in line for 15 minutes.
Retailers that use mobile point-of-sale solutions for line-busting are creating a frictionless experience for their customers while ringing up more sales more quickly. Mobile POS systems also enable sales associates to move around the store and interact more with customers, rather than leaving them stuck at cash registers.
Meet Customer Demand for Wi-Fi
Many retailers use technologies such as Wi-Fi, beacons and mobile apps to track customers and push out offers. Those use cases are great, but wireless networking delivers an even simpler value. One of the biggest benefits of providing customers with Wi-Fi is simply that customers will have wireless network access.
Many people want to be connected at all times, and if you can make that happen inside your store, customers will want to spend more time there. Even when customers use your Wi-Fi for comparison shopping, you can win their business by advertising a price-matching program.
In-store cafés are another way to leverage Wi-Fi, giving customers a chance to take breaks and catch up on their email without ever leaving the store. Even if croissants and coffee aren’t profit centers for your business, the value-added experience may get more people into the store and keep them there longer. Now more than ever, that’s half the battle.
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