Keeping up with consumer demands is exhausting. We’ve all seen Covid-19 accelerate shifts in how and where people want to shop, leaving fashion retailers battling to adapt to the surge in e-commerce.
And one question that is being asked currently is: What is the future of the physical retail store?
As high streets continue to reopen and restrictions lift, spending is up and footfall will inevitably increase – but will it reach pre-pandemic levels? And have consumers’ expectations of fashion stores been forever changed by the ease, convenience and benefits of shopping online i.e. shopping from your sofa, no queues, expanded inventory levels and ease of browsing with handy filters?
According to a 2021 study by Forrester, consumers expectation have changed.
It’s clear that the in-store experience needs to evolve and every interaction must count. It needs to motivate people to visit AND purchase in stores. To provide something that e-commerce can’t offer: a blended experience that combines the strengths of your retail associates and digital technology that takes assisted selling to the next level.
Assisted Selling: Human interactions that optimize service AND sales
The key to creating these enhanced in-store experiences that motivate people to leave their homes? Empowered associates with the right digital tools and data in their hands to deliver highly personal, unique shopping trips for consumers.
- Providing tailored recommendations and expert advice
- Answering customer questions on the spot with complete confidence
- No need to run to the back room to check stock, leaving the shopper waiting
- Speeding up or modernizing check out.
The smartphone is emerging as a key link here, able to help associates to capture and access data from essential retail systems (e-commerce, inventory systems, CRM platforms) anywhere in-store.
Get it right and it’s a win/win for retailers. Generating differentiated customer experiences that build brand loyalty, while also boosting revenue, securing higher transactions per visit and reducing walkouts.
NRF recently stated that 73% of retail professionals say the pandemic accelerated their technology-related investments (source). Here we’ll explore two areas of technology that can underpin the future of the in-store experience:
- Clienteling apps with barcode scanning and augmented reality capabilities
- Mobile Point of Sale (mPOS) solutions
Clienteling with confidence
Fashion sales associates play a vital role in defining the customers’ in-store experience. Whether they are new to your business or experienced hands, equipping them with a smart device with mobile clienteling apps is essential.
If the customer has a question about a product, a quick scan of the barcode on the tag with the smart device puts all the information in your hands. So whether it’s about sustainability, product reviews or alternative colour options, even the greenest associates can act like an experienced consultant with unlimited knowledge and confidence from day one.
By integrating the app with backend systems they can share real-time stock availability, for example to check if you have a pair of those shoes in size 8. And leveraging advanced scanning capabilities, like those of Scandit MatrixScan, it’s simple to scan multiple barcodes on a shelf of shoe boxes in one go, to search for and find the required size instantly.
With the right tools and information, there’s no need for staff to be nervous about not knowing the answer. Reduce the risk of the shopper getting impatient waiting and walking off. And all without extensive training time too.
Of course, the scanning must be fast and reliable to underpin a smooth experience, which is why leading fashion brands like Levi’s, Scotch & Soda, Aldo and MaxMara have deployed Scandit’s unrivalled scanning engine into their employee apps.
Add value to the in-store experience
But beyond replicating the speed and information rich e-commerce experience, clienteling apps can create deeper customer engagements.
Fashion brands can integrate augmented reality to create more of a ‘wow’ shopping moment. AR overlays on the device screen showing product information, comparisons or reviews are truly impactful.
With the latest scanning-enabled clienteling apps and sleek smart devices, your employees do more. They can schedule appointments in store or book follow ups to build relationships. They can scan loyalty cards to see purchase history, share special offers or make custom recommendations for cross and upsell of related items to complete the outfit.
It doesn’t mean major disruption or letting legacy systems hold you back either. The Scandit Barcode Scanner SDK makes it simple to seamlessly integrate barcode scanning and augmented reality capabilities into many major clienteling apps, like New Black, Mercaux, Mad Mobile and Keytree. And Scandit can transform any smart device into a high powered data capture and AR tool.
By combining the elements that appeal to your target demographics you can truly differentiate your assisted selling from the online experience and your rivals.
mPOS: More flexible, less friction, no waiting in line
Having a great interaction with an associate is one thing, but it still needs to lead to a positive (and profitable) outcome!
We know people have always hated queuing and walkouts are a major issue. Shoppers might be in a hurry, may reconsider an impulse purchase for the hassle or just can’t be bothered to find and walk to the counter (in a different section or floor perhaps).
However, using the same smart device with mobile POS software the associate can complete the interaction and process the sales anywhere in store. No need for a bulky sled either.
You can use a smartphone or a tablet device, where you can scan from hand or have the flexibility to go to a simple stand to process the transaction using the front facing camera, bag and de-tag the product. It’s a friction free, personalized process that busts queues and once finished, the associates and device are free to head off to the next task or customer.
It’s essential to bring the full omnichannel experience into your stores too. For example, if an item isn’t available in store in the right size or colour, associates can quickly check if it’s available in a nearby store location and arrange for customer pickup, or order it for home delivery instead, while still processing the payment and saving the sale.
For stores in areas where floor space is limited or expensive, deploying mPOS can also eliminate the need for fixed POS stations and free up real estate.
For high end retailers that serve lots of international tourists, employees can use their smartphones to help automate and speed up the tax reimbursement process. Detailed information (passport number, address, full name) can be captured using ID scanning capabilities to remove the hassle and speed up form filling.
Evolve your assisted selling in-store with Scandit
Talk to us about how you can update and digitalize your physical store experiences and enhance your assisted selling by integrating scanning and AR-enabled into incumbent or new smartphone apps for clienteling and mPOS. Contact us