Next Generation Omni-Channel with Mobile Computer Vision and AR

By Steve Cunningham, Director of US Retail Sales, Scandit, Inc.

Customers’ shopping behaviour has evolved as the inexorable rise of online commerce continues to reshape the retail landscape. Today, retailers can’t assume customers will walk into a physical store during normal business hours, find a product, get the information they need from an associate, and make a purchase. This type of traditional transactional behavior still occurs, but consumers’ buying patterns have transformed in recent years with 73% of people using multiple channels to shop. Now a buying decision isn’t just a single event — it’s the last step in an omni-channel customer journey.

The omni-channel model has given consumers the ability to have a seamless shopping experience, across both physical and digital channels. This means from the customer perspective, all offline and online activities are part of one unified process. More demanding modern shoppers expect the ability to perform tasks such as ordering in-store items from their mobile phone and returning online purchases at a physical store as standard.

Innovative retailers are now going a step further to gain a competitive edge with technologies such as mobile barcode scanning and augmented reality (AR) that merge the physical and digital worlds to create new and superior shopping experiences for customers and gain a competitive edge.

The Research

Although providing a seamless retail experience can be a complex process, it is also a potential source of significant added profits. A Harvard Business Review study of 46,000 shoppers complted in 2017 suggested that the more channels customers use, the more valuable they are. The study asserted that retailer’s omni-channel customers are more valuable on multiple counts. It also revealed that omni-channel shoppers spent an average of 4% more on every shopping occasion in the store and 10% more online than single-channel customers. Even more compelling, with every additional channel they used, shoppers spent more money in the store. For example, customers who used 4+ channels spent 9% more in the store, on average, when compared to those who used just one channel. You can easily see how quickly revenue could increase for retailers that provide multiple robust, efficient channels.

The Practicality of Shopping

In order to fully serve the omni-channel customer journey, retailers first have to understand the typical process consumers go through when making a seamless buying decision. Included below is a sample omni-channel purchase timeline many retailers may already be familiar with.

Monday AM — Hear about a product from a friend or relative.
Monday AM — Look up the product on their smartphone.
Tuesday PM — Make a brief trip to your brick-and-mortar store to see the product in person.
Tuesday PM — Goes to competing brick-and-mortar stores to look at the same product or similar products to compare prices and features.
Wednesday PM — More thorough product research done online using social media and other websites.
Friday AM — Returns to your store for another in-person look at the product, this time they talk to your associates about it.
Sunday AM — Decides to purchase the product from you, sees that it’s in stock in the store using their tablet, and purchases it online for in-store pickup later that day.

In this example, the customer covered a lot of ground, across a lot of channels and devices, from the time they first heard about the product through to the time they decided to make the purchase. Are you prepared to support all of these steps in your customers’ journey?

Do you have mShopping apps available for smartphones and tablets, in addition to a desktop and mobile-optimized website? Does your inventory management system help your employees keep stock numbers accurately updated so customers are fully aware of what quantities are available in store and online? Do your employees have access to mobile clienteling software, so that they can provide immediate product information and improved customer service on the shop floor, without having to walk to a fixed terminal to get answers? Is self-checkout available? Customer- and employee-facing mobile apps powered by barcode scanning functionality make the delivery of omni-channel marketing easy and intuitive for retail enterprises. See the video below to get a better idea of all the ways mobile computer vision helps facilitate omni-channel marketing.

 

Throughout every step of the journey — online and offline — each customer needs to be informed about the product they’re interested in and be able to complete the purchase at any time. If you don’t support their journey, one of your competitors will and the customer will give them the sale. More than likely, the customer will also give your competitor who satisfied their omni-channel needs their future loyalty.

How does mobile computer vision with AR support omni-channel shopping?

The key to creating the omni-channel experience that consumers expect is to make the best and most useful attributes of online shopping available at all points in the journey. This is most easily and affordably achieved using customer and employee-facing smartphone apps with barcode scanning enabled. Mobile barcode scanning technology puts real-time product information at the consumer’s disposal, as well as making it possible to order and acquire products in the most efficient way possible.
An effective omni-channel strategy takes effort and coordination. But the rewards more than justify the time and expense.

How can you introduce mobile computer vision to work on your omni-channel marketing platform?

Our industry-leading software turns any camera-enabled smart device into a powerful scanner and adds information for the user with augmented reality (AR) overlays. We integrate into any IT infrastructure and the software-smart device solution comes at is a fraction of the price of dedicated scanning devices. Our scanning performance is unrivalled – from damaged labels to awkward scanning angles and unusual barcodes. This is absolutely crucial because whether your app is used by customers or employees, you want to be absolutely confident it’s going to work first time, every time. To maximize adoption, the user experience needs to be fantastic, with ‘first-time friction’ minimized. We regularly have customers who have tested Scandit software against other commercial or open source solutions approaching us after seeing the difference in performance. Advanced features such as the augmented reality (AR) overlays and scanning multiple codes at once via MatrixScan, make a difference in creating a truly effective omni-channel marketing experience.

If you’re ready to find out more:,

  • Check out our whitepaper  Think Like Amazon which spells out how to create the digital in-store retail experience your customers want within existing retail environments, without major infrastructure investments or complex integrations.
  • Read our best practice guide to Self-Scanning, with top-tips to maximise adoption.
  • See our take on McKinsey’s Retail Automation report this year – we advocate incremental change for gain with no pain.

And we’d love to talk, so connect with us for more information.