There’s no disguising it’s been a tough year for fashion retailers. From store closures to changing consumer priorities, supply chain challenges and the need to adapt to be COVID-secure – it’s a lot to handle. And all this on top of already challenging trading conditions and economic pressures.
The good news though? Technology solutions are already helping retailers tackle these challenges – and mobile barcode scanning on smartphones is one worth serious consideration. Here we explore why.
Instant innovation without disruption
Amidst the uncertainty, the pandemic has highlighted the importance of digital technology in adapting to today’s challenges and setting brands up for what will follow. In a recent McKinsey & Company State of Fashion report they believe we’re seeing a ‘digital escalation’, elevating digital to an urgent priority across the whole value chain in fashion.
“Industry leaders will need to get comfortable with uncertainty and ramp up future-proofing efforts as the potential for further outbreaks and lockdowns loom.”
State of Fashion coronavirus update, April 2020 McKinsey & Company
That’s where scanning-enabled apps on smartphones comes in. A proven, available technology, which is simple to deploy into existing infractures and that is flexible enough to adapt to a range of use cases, workflows and shopping experiences as the situations continue to develop over time.
Here we highlight three ways that fashion retailers are embracing smartphone scanning and augmented reality (AR) software as the world continues to deal with the repercussions of coronavirus. Notably how smartphones can be deployed to keep customers and employees safe and satisfied, while increasing revenue.
Turn smartphones into personal shoppers with scan-enabled apps
In the new normal, many shoppers want to get in and out, with fewer interactions, while reducing their exposure and risk of infection. Enabling people in your stores to retrieve product information using the smartphones in their pockets becomes incredibly valuable.
According to McKInsey &Company, 42 percent of millennials want to know what goes into products and how they are made before they buy. Making product information available may be key to the sale. If shoppers want to check if an item is available in a different colour, a quick scan tells them. If they want to confirm a price during sales season where most items are discounted, yet the final price isn’t always on the label, a quick scan will verify the price in real-time. No need to find a store associate.
Scandit technology powers mobile apps that allow customers to see augmented product information – sustainability, size, availability, sales price checks – via augmented reality overlays on their smartphone screen by scanning the label.
It’s a quick way to share the information in an easily digestible way to help increase your conversions. For example, even if an item isn’t available in the size they want, you can offer them the chance to order it for home delivery through the app.
It’s a personal shopper in their pocket.
Clienteling becomes fast and contactless with employee smartphones
Even with social distancing measures in place, customer service is still king.
You can make product information available on their smartphones, but customers will still have additional questions that you need to answer to secure the sale. For example, 40% of consumers get frustrated when they are unable to find items in-store (CapGemini research).
In fact, your clienteling must be faster and better than ever before, as the focus shifts to contactless shopping and risk minimisation.
Being able to retrieve stock information anywhere in store helps increase the speed of service and decrease the time in store. Leaving people waiting, while associates go to a back room to look up the relevant information risks a walkout and might make consumers uncomfortable. With potentially decreased footfall, every engagement counts.
And what about the employees safety? They don’t want to share dedicated devices amongst themselves, which need to be regularly cleaned and disinfected.
Instead, equip employees with a Scandit-powered smart device to confidently answer customer questions on the spot, anywhere in store, with a simple scan of the barcode on the product label. Stores can increase the speed of service and process more customer requests, employees are able to provide answers without leaving the customers waiting.
With lower-cost smart devices instead of expensive hardware scanners, you can deploy them to every staff member in store, empowering them to deliver great and reassuring customer experience. You can even deploy scanning-enabled apps on employees personal devices via a bring your own device (BYOD) approach. This helps to further reduce costs and also makes it faster to scale up for peak season as temporary staff can be rapidly onboarded.
Make checkout contactless with mPOS and self-scanning
No one likes queuing, even more so in today’s environment. According to a 2020 BrandsEye study, 71% shoppers said social distancing at checkout-tills was the safety measure they most desired.
This is especially challenging for fashion stores, which often can have multiple tills in close proximity. Enabling enough space for customers and employees is essential. Even a small, socially distanced queue is off putting. Anything you can do to alleviate this and speed the shopping journey is key.
Mobile Point of Sale (mPOS) helps fashion retailers short on space say goodbye to long lines. Scandit scanning software helps enable fast and easy retail mobile point-of-sale transactions on smart devices anywhere in store. This could be on specific pop up tables to spread out customers or even just employees taking payments in aisles while serving a customer or when they see a queue building up.
The beauty of mPOS is that it can be implemented quickly, without much fuss. It’s a fast, flexible solution that can be adapted or removed as regulations evolve and change.
You can keep employees and shoppers safe. Limit exposure from lines and also reduce walkouts from nervous or impatient consumers. With the right solution, there is no need to change the POS system, and no need for costly dedicated hardware (payment sleds) either.
Another option is to embrace automation and include mobile payment into your customer mobile app to enable them to self-scan items, pay on their device and then leave – convenient, no queues, no risk. Of course, this will require some additional reconfiguration of your processes and store environment for verification of payment and removal of security tags – but it’s another way to embrace smartphone technology to transform shopping to suit changing consumer behaviour.
Reshaping retail with smartphone scanning
However you have adapted to the rapidly changing and uncertain retail landscape, it’s clear that there is still more change and disruption to come.
If you are interested in discussing how flexible, scanning-enabled smartphones can help you to enhance safety, delight customers and bolster store revenues in unpredictable times – our experts will be happy to talk and share insights from our fashion customers.