There is no doubt that modern retailers need to tap into the power of new technology. Without it, very few retail outlets would remain financially viable. Even the giants are struggling, Target recently reported that their product costs had jumped by 10.4% and Walmart saw its cost of sales go up by 3.5%. All against a backdrop of falling sales when looked at from the perspective of the number of items sold.
Rises in labor, power, rent, and other costs mean that to stay competitive retailers need to work in a far more efficient way. Something that the use of new technologies makes possible.
Make sure it is the right tech
But, for that to happen it is vital that the business owner first carries out a cost evaluation of each innovation. The fact that their main competitors use the tech is never sufficient reason for a store to start to do the same. Every business is different, so what works well for one may be a disaster for another.
Use this article and calculator to work out which pieces of tech to invest in first. It explains exactly how to fully assess ROI.
Train staff to use it properly
Before the tech is deployed it is important to train staff on how to use it properly. This ensures that introducing new equipment or software does not cause disruption within the store that has a negative impact on customer service.
Assess the impact
As soon as the tech goes live how well it is performing needs to be assessed. Taking this approach ensures that any unforeseen issues are picked up at an early stage and can be assessed. Having all of the relevant data available from the start also enables business owners to check that the technology is saving them money.
Tweak processes to get the most from the technology
If things are not working as they should be, store owners can quickly make the necessary adjustments to address any issues. This reduces staff and customer frustration and ensures that the tech is not leading to the business haemorrhaging cash.
Types of retail technology with use case examples
Now that we have looked at choosing the tech and introducing it to a store in the right way, it is time for a quick overview of what is available.
Digital display screen technology
People notice screens. Mostly because they are an important part of everyday life. Without screens, people would not be able to work, find out information, buy things or keep in touch with their loved ones. As a result, their eyes are naturally drawn to screens, and they are pre-programmed to digest and act on the information that is being displayed. Meaning that retailers that deploy digital signage in the right way find it easier to make a profit. In the past 10 years, the cost of buying and running them has fallen drastically, making it a viable option even for small retailers.
Digital display screens can be used to:
· Share details of promotions
· Inform customers of extra services
· To encourage more social media sharing
· To create a decorative effect
· To entertain customers
· To improve the ambience
· Keep customers up to date
Point of sale and stock control technology
Modern Point of Sale (PoS) technology brings many benefits to retailers. It enables them to:
· Process transactions quickly
· Offer customers multiple ways to pay
· Keep precise track of stock, so that all items are always available to buy
Even small retailers can deploy and benefit from advanced point-of-sale technology. Potentially, they can use an old tablet or I-pad as a till meaning that they only need to buy the POS software. This short YT video explains exactly how to do that.
The tech that enables retailers to sell 24/7
It is now possible to run a retail store with virtually no staff. All that is needed is someone to stock the shelves. Currently, the cost of this technology is high, but the price is coming down. So, it will be easy to run a store in this way. When retailers have no staff salaries to pay, keeping their stores open 24/7 is no longer prohibitively expensive.
But as we said, the technology to run stores without staff is still relatively new. So, instead, stores are increasingly deploying smart vending machines to enable them to continue to sell key products, outside of normal trading hours. The smart technology that they use is making it possible for far more than just food and drink to be sold from them. It is expected that, in the USA, the smart vending machine market will have grown by another $10 billion by 2024.
The above are just a few examples of retail tech that is saving companies money. When the right technology is chosen and deployed properly it improves efficiency, which is why it is playing a key role in keeping struggling retailers afloat.