The technology of transactions

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The internet has forever changed the retail world, but online shopping is just the beginning. Smart bricks-and-mortar retailers are getting ready to fight back by exploring new ways that technology can help them deliver a better, faster and more engaging shopping experience. So what global trends should retailers get ready to face?

Smart devices will enhance the shopping experience

Online reviews and price check apps have shifted the power away from retailers and put it into consumers’ hands. ‘Showrooming’ – where consumers browse in-store, then purchase online for less has become a major issue for retailers. However, it proves a point – it’s hard to beat the tactile nature of shopping. How can you retain your customers when they are in your store? “Blurring the digital and physical world of shopping will play to the strengths of both,” explains Ken Tunnicliffe, Enterprise Director, Vodafone New Zealand. “Savvy retailers will embrace smart devices, arming staff with the ability to assist shoppers when checking sizes, styles and availability or place orders online. Other technologies will further customise the consumer experience. Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) can send special offers to a shopper’s device.” By enabling ‘then and there’ price matching and discounts, these technologies will help retailers reduce ‘showrooming’ and build customer loyalty.

Mobility lets customers shop the way they want

Tech-savvy shoppers are not only shopping online, they are researching, browsing and trying on wherever and whenever they please. Online orders are spiking, with an increasing percentage of these orders being placed from a mobile device. “Retailers must do more than just wait for customers to come,” says Tunnicliffe. “Wanaka-based ski and snowboard retailer BASE knows their customers are mobile, so in addition to a bricks-and-mortar store they developed a mobile-friendly web-store where customers can book snowboards, browse bargains and interact with the team.”

Big data analytics are booming

Over 50 per cent of marketers have invested in Big Data solutions and for good reason. Smart retailers are using customer behaviour, history and whereabouts information to streamline customer service, refine pricing, predict demand and recommend products. Retailers such as Nordstrom are analysing in-store sales, online behaviour and social media activity to determine which products to promote and how best to market them. One caveat is that retailers will need to address consumers’ privacy concerns by building trust and assuring customers that information will deliver a superior shopping experience and not breach privacy.

Retailers will get more social

Social media enhances a brand’s personality, connects with customers and helps people overcome the barriers to trading online. “BASE uses social media to communicate special offers as well as engaging consumers by sharing stories,” says Tunnicliffe.

“The future of social media is to leverage customer engagement and develop products and marketing campaigns. Nordstrom is using Pinterest to decide which products to display in store, while Target has launched Awesome Shop, a website that showcases their ‘best-reviewed’ and ‘most-pinned’ items.”

The rise of the mobile wallet

Vodafone is currently trialling SmartPass, a new mobile payments application that uses contactless Near Field Communication (NFC) and Visa payWave technology to function as a digital wallet. While we aren’t doing away with wallets yet, NFC payments globally are estimated to reach more than $36 billion in 2017 and contactless payments are already starting to transform banking with Vodafone SmartPass accepted at thousands of Visa payWave enabled terminals around New Zealand. It’s just another way the consumer experience is becoming faster and easier.

Are you ready?

Is your business ready to adapt to the transactions of the future? Are you set up to give your customers the best service and keep them loyal? These are the questions we ask to help businesses stay one step ahead and get ready for tomorrow – today.
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