Retail customers often don’t have enough product info available to them. They experience poor customer service and frequently find the products they want out-of-stock. All while knowing they can likely find cheaper prices and alternatives elsewhere.

Online-exclusive competitors are addressing many of these pain points. They offer customers a more personalised, more convenient and more cost-effective service. Which is shown by 28% of shoppers saying they shop less at retail stores because of Amazon!

Almost a third of shoppers purchased most or all of their clothing and footwear online in the last 12 months. So, retailers are turning to intelligent things to give them a competitive edge. Combining the IoT with mobile will give physical stores a competitive advantage in tomorrow’s world.

Intelligent Things & the IoT Explained

The new retail landscape is smarter, more efficient and more insightful. All thanks to the rapid rise of intelligent things in the retail sector. Physical stores are a unique, tangible touch-point for your customers. But fending off online competition is becoming more difficult.

This is because today’s connected customer can compare prices from thousands of your competitors in seconds. And thanks to lower overheads, online-exclusive competitors can offer a greater variety. With more product info available to help during the research process. Which is why for some categories of products, 74% of UK shoppers prefer researching their purchases online.

But the benefits don’t stop there. Online competitors can offer low-cost next-day delivery and an easy returns process. This makes for a very convenient customer experience. Which is hard for physical retail stores to compete with.

So, retailers are turning to intelligent things to give themselves a competitive advantage. And fix long-standing pain points in the customer journey. The new retail landscape is smarter, more efficient and more insightful. All thanks to the rapid rise of connected devices and the Internet of Things (IoT). So, how can you take advantage of today’s tech and mobile to supercharge your customer journey?

Intelligent Things for the Retail Customer Journey

What actually are intelligent things? They’re devices that use AI and machine learning to interact more naturally with users. Right now, connected devices are mostly standalone with specific features or uses. But looking forward in 2018, we’ll see more of an interconnected and collaborative IoT ecosystem.

Almost 80% of retailers agree that the IoT will change the way they do business. Intelligent things give you next-level automation of your mobile marketing. They use data to give every one of your customers a personalised experience. And through this, the IoT also provides in-depth insight into your customers’ behaviour. Including how they react to specific promotions. Which helps to further fuel your marketing strategy.

So, it’s essential you involve intelligent things in your marketing strategy. But to get the most out of the IoT, you need to think about customer-centric innovation. And where the Internet of Things can help to transform your business. Here are a few questions you need to ask yourself:

• Where are the current pain points in your customer journey?
• How can you use the IoT to address each of these pain points? And enhance your customer experience?
• Where could you enhance your customer journey even further through your mobile offering?

Because no matter what you sell, the answer to connecting with your customers is in their pocket. And they carry it with them wherever they go! A staggering 90% of shoppers use their mobiles in retail stores. And intelligent things are essential if you want to make the most of that. The IoT is the answer to bridging the physical and digital worlds in your stores. With it, you can build a seamless CX that keeps customers coming back to your store.

Beacons in Retail: Regent Street

Big brands like Hamleys, Armani, Longchamp, and Hackett make up 80% of the retailers using beacons in their Regent Street stores. iBeacon technology allows brands to push exclusive and personalised marketing messages to customers.

Shoppers receive alerts and tailored content about everything. From new in-store promotions to exclusive offers for Regent Street shoppers. The app also allows shoppers to input their preferences whilst maintaining their anonymity. These brands can now build a detailed profile of shoppers who redeem online special offers. As well as consumers who respond best to mobile advertising. Connected devices help brands drive shoppers to their physical stores.

Retail IoT Intelligent Things Beacons Mobile Ecommerce

Using Geo-Targeting & the IoT in Retail to Increase Footfall

70% of your customers want to share their location with you. But they also want something in return: a personalised customer experience. You have to tailor each step of their journey to their specific needs. And the first step of that journey is getting them into your store. So, how can you use mobile to maximise footfall to your store?

  • Bluetooth Beacons catch shoppers’ attention. They’re low-energy Bluetooth transmitters that are ideal for small, indoor environments. They’re best suited to close-proximity marketing. And by placing them at the front of your store, you can capture your customers as they pass by.
  • GPS drives more footfall from further away. It uses lots of power and works best outdoors. And through geofencing, you can set up much larger catchment areas. So, when a customer enters one of these areas, they’ll trigger push notifications.

Boosting Engagement with Push Notifications

You can find both Bluetooth & GPS in almost any modern smartphone. So, combined they’re ideal for location-based mobile marketing. And just by using location-based targeting, you’ll boost response rates by five times! Location-based push notifications can advertise new store openings in specific geo-locations. Or deliver exclusive offers and promotions available only at local stores. But these examples are limited to the customers’ location. Which makes them less personal and less engaging.

Today’s connected customer expects more. By sharing their data with you, they want a much more unique mobile offering. So, go one step further and combine your mobile marketing with insight from your CRM. This way, you’ll be able to craft even more personalised push notifications.

For example, if one of your customers has had an item sitting in their online basket for a week. And they’ve just entered one of your GPS catchment areas. Your system could automatically send them a personalised push notification. This lets them know that the product they’ve been deliberating over is in-stock. And only ten minutes away!

You can even setup pre-approved, time-exclusive discounts. These let the customer know that if they buy that product in-store today, then they’ll get 20% off. So, through tailored, location-based push notifications, you’ll encourage more spontaneous shopping. And re-engage lost or undecided shoppers. All while keeping your brand at the front of your customers’ minds.

Recommended reading: Digital Transformation with Location Based Technology

Digital Transformation Location Based Technology Sonin App Development

Meat Pack – Hijacking Competition with GPS

Shoe store ‘Meat Pack’ ran an innovative marketing campaign using geo-fencing to capture customers. They used GPS tech to set up catchment areas in their competitor’s stores. And added a ‘Hijack’ enhancement to their e-commerce app.

This meant that when a user entered a competitor’s store, a discount clock was started. This began at 100% and dropped 1% every second until the shopper got to the Meat Pack store. Through GPS tech, Meat Pack was able to hijack more than 600 customers from competitors’ stores in under a week!

Quick Geo-Fencing Case Studies:

  • American Eagle used geofencing to let customers know about their new store openings. This didn’t just drive more people to the new stores, it ended up tripling their sales!
  • One in five of Walmart’s online orders is picked up in-store. Walmart used customer locations to trigger personalised discounts and relevant promotions.

So, taking advantage of GPS & beacons is essential if you’re in retail. Personalised push notifications give each one of your customers a unique CTA. And a tailored mobile offering will drive highly-engaged shoppers straight to your door! But after that, how can the Internet of Things enhance the in-store experience.

Using Bluetooth Beacons to Enhance the Customer Experience

Beacons are great for catching the attention of shoppers passing by. But they’re also perfect for marketing to customers as they move through your store. Beacons can give each customer a unique journey. This enhances their in-store experience and builds loyalty.

Recognising Customer Needs with Exceptional Customer Service

Bluetooth beacons recognise when one of your app users walks into your store. So, straight away can match each customer with their CRM account. You’ll then immediately know their personal preferences, shopping history and requirements. So, beacons give you a much better understanding of every customer who walks into your store.

Using this info, you can also work out why they’ve come into your store. So, you’ll know if they’re there to collect an online order, complete an item exchange or make a return. But even if there isn’t a definite reason, you can still use insights from your e-commerce app or site. For example, they could have recently run a store stock check on a product. In which case it’s highly likely they’re here to see or try on that specific item.

Intelligent things empower your staff with in-depth insight into your customers. Your employees are able to provide each customer with a highly personalised service. So, they’re much more likely to make the sale!

A Personalised In-Store Experience

You can also use beacons to deliver personalised push notifications to your customers. As customers browse, beacons in different areas can trigger promotions or product suggestions. Again, using your insight here helps you make more engaging and relevant suggestions.

These personalised push notifications drive sales and increase the average spend per customer. Almost a third of shoppers who receive beacon-triggered offers will redeem them. And 73% of shoppers say these offers make them more likely to buy something. So, by using beacons you’ll enhance your in-store experience. And encourage shoppers to keep coming back.

Recommended reading: How we use iBeacons to streamline client visits

Waitrose – Improving Customer Experience with Beacons

Waitrose uses beacons to deliver promotions as customers pass by isles and displays. The app also gives members of staff insight into customer info. So, they can always provide the best experience possible.

Nfc Provides a Flexible Shopping Experience for Busy Customers

NFC (Near Field Communication) technology will be in 2.2 billion mobile phones by 2020. It’s wireless and doesn’t need any internet connection. But while most Bluetooth beacons have ranges of 70m, NFC is less than 20cm! So, it’s best suited for the super-close-up transfer of payments and data. A lot of retail businesses today accept NFC contactless payments. But many more are using the same tech to transform their in-store CX. So, how can you use NFC to redefine your retail space?

With NFC-enabled smartphones, customers can carry a virtual shopping basket around your store. So, all they need to do is hold their phones close to the shelf to add it to their basket. This gives them way more flexibility. They can choose to carry items around as they shop. Or add them to a virtual shopping list which you’ll deliver at a later point.

Introducing NFC tags into your retail store lets your customers carry out big shops fast. Without the worry of how they’ll get their shopping home! This makes for a convenient and seamless customer experience. But it also gets more customers into your physical store. This is way better than having them do the shop online. Because in-store, they’re much more likely to make spontaneous purchases.

Today, retailers are going above and beyond to create a more convenient CX. But tomorrow’s customer will expect this level of flexibility. Already, three-quarters of your customers expect a consistent experience across all your channels. With 73% saying they’re likely to switch to one of your competitors if they don’t get it. So, it’s important to consider how your customers’ expectations are changing. And how you can use mobile and connected devices to meet or exceed them.

Suggested webinar: Why Mobile Should Sit at the Heart of Customer Experience

Why mobile should sit at the heart of CX Sonin App Development

Case Study: Amazon Go – Improving Customer Convenience

Amazon is keen to build a loyal customer base in the physical store. Where the vast majority of grocery shopping still happens. So they started with one question: how could they use tech to improve on customer convenience?

The answer was Amazon Go, a connected smart-store five years in the making. The customer journey starts in the Amazon Go mobile app. This generates a unique QR code for each customer to scan as they enter the store. After that, customers can take what they want thanks to ‘Just Walk Out’ technology.

In-store sensors and cameras recognise which products customers are take (and put back). So, when a customer leaves the store, the system of intelligent things adds up the customer’s virtual shopping cart. And charges it to the customers’ Amazon account. A digital receipt is immediately sent to the customer’s phone. And is saved forever in the app. This gives customers a lot more transparency over their spending. All while improving the retail customer experience.

Digital Displays and an Immersive Retail Experience

You also need to consider how you’ll balance physical stock with intelligent displays. Tangible products are a key benefit of brick-and-mortar stores. But you can customise immersive digital displays for each shopper. And they help you make the most of the space available to you. It’s no wonder why 25% of all new digital displays and signage are in the retail sector.

Quickfire Case Studies: Amazon & Burberry Digital Displays

For example, Amazon recently filed a patent for an Alexa-enabled smart mirror. This can transform into a ‘blended reality’ display. Which would let customers try on virtual outfits in immersive fitting rooms. Similarly, fashion group Burberry implemented intelligent things that use NFC-tech in their clothing. The display would show product videos, design and production info. As well as send relevant links to customers’ phones.

Immersive displays don’t just make browsing your store more convenient for customers. They put a much larger range of products in front of the customer. Boosting sales and the order quantity from each shopper.

It’s important you consider the benefit of similar tech to your operations. But also, where in your customer journey this tech could make the biggest impact to the customer? Whether that’s directing them to your store, personalising their browsing experience or securing the sale.

Securing the Sale with Intelligent Things and a Connected Store

Quick Response (QR) codes are 2D barcodes that can hold 100 times as much data as the traditional barcode. They’ve been experiencing a resurgence thanks to in-lens readers from Snapchat and Pinterest. So, how can you use codes and tags to boost conversions and secure the sale in-store?

Helping the Decision Process with More Product Info

Smart products and displays give your customers info without taking up valuable space. Instead, all your customers have to do is use their phone to scan the QR code or NFC tag. This then launches the relevant product screen in your e-commerce app. And customers can instantly see any relevant product info.

This tech is particularly useful for variable products like shoes or clothing. Where customers can check items with a quick scan. Your e-commerce app then launches and lets them know if you’ve got the product in their preferred size/style. An automatic prompt can even ask the customer if they want the correct item brought out by an employee.

Intelligent things guide your customers through the decision process. They empower your staff to provide above-and-beyond customer service. This gives you a competitive edge and drives customer loyalty.

Quickfire Case Study: Adidas Increasing Product Value

Adidas integrated NFC tags into its footwear line. This meant customers could see relevant product info and media as they browsed. But customers could also connect their products to an app for training guides and routes. So, using intelligent things you’re not just helping the buying decision. You can also increase the post-purchase value of the item.

Intelligent things and a connected store will help to streamline your customer journey. Using this tech, you’ll reduce abandonment. And get rid of sore points like having to rummage through clothes for a size that isn’t there. But there’s still the problem of not having the items in-stock. How can you use mobile to secure the sale when the customer’s still in the store?

Securing the Sale In-Store (Even If You’re out of Stock)

QR codes and connected devices let you capture customers in-store. If you haven’t got the right product in-stock, your mobile app can direct customers to the relevant screen. And ask them if they’d like to have it shipped to them instead.

Similarly, digital displays and connected devices can let your customers browse or order out-of-stock items. But with the added benefit of nearby staff for that personal touch. To help secure the sale in-store, you could even offer next-day delivery on these items. So, intelligent things and a streamlined e-commerce app will reduce shopper abandonment. All while helping your buyers during their decisions.

The retail sector is undergoing rapid change. With more and more stores taking advantage of beacons, NFC tech, QR codes and digital displays. And at the centre of all these, is mobile. It’s the bridge between your customers and your connected store. Tomorrow’s customer will expect more personalised experiences. And mobile is the answer to this. Without it, you won’t be able to compete with online-exclusive retailers.

Improve Customer Experience CX Sonin App Development

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