As customers return to brick-and-mortar stores, this is a time of change and opportunity for retail.
But physical stores also face two significant challenges.
Firstly, there’s the digital onslaught by e-commerce as consumers have migrated to online shopping. This leads to the second: enabling stores to support e-commerce order fulfillment in tandem with an increased consumer footfall.
According to Deloitte, the shift to online has consolidated, with physical retail’s reinvention set to continue throughout the year.
Consumers now take online convenience for granted. At the same time, they want the intimacy of a physical store.
This was the subject of Scandit CEO Samuel Mueller’s recent talk at NRF Retail Converge ‘More Digital. More Human. Redefining Physical Stores Post-Covid‘.
We have compiled some of the key points below.
Where we are now & why retail needs to reinvent itself digitally
Pre-2020, many retailers were using mobile solutions like self-scanning, but stores were slow in moving it forward. COVID accelerated this dramatically with a resulting increase in demand for e-commerce and safer shopping options during the lockdown.
As a result, retailers faced the challenge of launching new services that relied on different technologies, systems, and stores. These included:
- Curbside pickup
- In-store e-commerce fulfillment
Empowering sales associates with digital technology
There are more demands on store associates today than ever before. As stores reopen, employees will need to support order fulfillment and other back-of-store processes more efficiently.
Technology shouldn’t just help store associates handle these tasks. It should help them become high-value sales consultants and deliver a more personalized experience to each customer.
Many stores are falling short of this aim. Challenges Scandit has seen from its own customers and research include:
- UX and UI of front and back end apps are not good enough to unlock efficiency.
- Store associates don’t feel empowered to offer a better customer experience.
The ability to use smartphone scanning in stores is a game-changer for retailers. It means employees can potentially have one device each that can be used across multiple tasks.
Giving customers a better experience when they return in-store
These days, many consumers prefer shopping online to visiting a store. The key to motivating customers to come back is by making the in-store experience something that can’t be replicated anywhere else.
People value the personal interactions they have in-store. They are willing to spend more when they can interact with people and physical products.
But they want a more customized experience.
Mobile computer vision on a smartphone is a way to provide it, from barcode scanning to supplying real-time information on-screen for employees. And personalized recommendations, discounts, or reviews for customers.
Decathlon combines online and offline in-store
Decathlon, the world’s largest sports retailer, provides a great example of how to use the customer’s smartphone in-store.
Space constraints in smaller stores limited the number of products Decathlon could stock, resulting in out of stocks.
The retailer decided to make shopping on smartphones easier. Using Scandit’s Barcode Scanner SDK it created the Decathlon app – a self-scanning application for customers that also extended to their entire online catalog.
As a result, Decathlon customers had access to all Decathlon products even if they weren’t in the store.
The smartphone is the one-device solution that will solve retailer needs
Shopping at a store offers up the benefit of human interaction and physically seeing a product. In contrast, online shoppers have the convenience of being able to browse anywhere from their phone.
Right now, retailers need to reconcile these factors, modernize their stores and bring them into line with e-commerce. To achieve this, they need to integrate e-commerce systems with physical store infrastructure.
While in the customers’ eyes, there is no online or offline. There is just the store.
Smartphones enabled with enterprise-ready computer vision technology are the key to facilitating this essential change in behavior and expectation.