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Technology – transforming modern retail

Why is it essential for retailers to rethink everything they know about technology?

It’s no secret that our high streets are going through a very challenging time. In the years that have followed since the global pandemic, many businesses have struggled to survive, let alone thrive. We’re seeing more businesses go into administration including big-name brands like Made and Joules. Ultimately, if some of our best-loved brands are struggling to cope, smaller retailers and those newer names need to be creative. While it might seem risky to make huge investments in areas like technology right now, doing so could be the lifeline many retailers need.

Reinventing and reimagining the customer experience

The attraction of online shopping is its ease and convenience but despite these advantages, brick-and-mortar retailers can still draw people with an experiential aspect. Customers enjoy the opportunity to browse, touch, and see physical products in person but if the in-store experience falls short, they are unlikely to return.

Technology plays a crucial role in enhancing the customer experience (CX). It can be used to create touchpoints that encourage customers to interact physically, fostering a closer connection to the brand and long-lasting relationships. Interactive experiences, facilitated by technology, enable customers to access unique content, like the bespoke jump booth introduced by the interactive brand Xi in the new Sports Direct flagship stores. This booth utilises body recognition technology to measure players’ jumping abilities, providing them with slow-motion playback and a leaderboard. This personalised content leaves customers with an unforgettable experience and content they can take away.

Technology also plays a central role in driving engaging loyalty programs. By incorporating loyalty apps that can detect when a customer is in-store, businesses can offer targeted ads and promotions based on previous shopping behaviour. Customers can receive exclusive and time-limited discounts tailored to their preferences, making their shopping experience even more rewarding and personalised. The right technology empowers businesses to unleash the full potential of targeted marketing and strengthen their customer relationships.How to maximise your return on retail tech investment

Although it’s a big step, when done right, tech can boost profits for retailers. Just think back to self-checkouts and enhanced POS systems. These have both improved and streamlined the buying process. A recent survey found that 84% of UK retailers agree that digital signage at POS enhances brand visibility too, which we know has a direct positive impact on purchasing behaviour and profits. In addition to this, digital displays reduce the need for frequent and expensive printing and the time associated with manual campaign changes.

The answer to implementing and rolling out tech successfully comes down to understanding consumer behaviour and patterns. You need to know about customer movements as well as demographics and preferences. Heat tracking cameras can help you to identify hotspots allowing you to successfully place products around your store, but further analysis is required on real-time data to ensure you can tweak your in-store content based on customer behaviour. For example, does the weather impact how many people come into the store? Is there a direct correlation between the number of people trying on clothes and the number of sales?

Looking forward: investment or a necessity?

Despite investments into tech seeming costly and time-consuming, the long-term benefits will outweigh any of these perceived costs. What’s more, as competitors begin to rapidly integrate tech, your retail brand can hardly afford to lag. In fact, the right tech investments could be the difference between merely surviving or thriving amidst the retail industry’s challenges.

Josh Bunce, founder and CEO of the iuf Group, trusted by iconic global brands to capture and retain audience attention with creative AV solutions. A serial entrepreneur and investor, Josh is on a mission to create a new retail world using innovative, practical and sustainable technology.

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