by Christian Nascimento
It’s likely you’ve seen the not-so-subtle sign of the season that bridges the end of fall and the beginning of winter: shopping season. For shoppers, that means deals, deals, deals. But for retailers, it means a mad dash to attract consumers’ eyeballs, awareness and — of course — wallets, to end the year on a high note.
The competition during shopping season is especially stiff, and brick-and-mortar retailers require creative solutions to bring in new and repeat customers and turn casual browsers into buyers. To rise above the rest and provide enhanced shopping experiences that e-commerce cannot replicate, many retailers look to technology.
While there are plenty of cutting-edge solutions in which retailers can invest, another strategy involves piggybacking off technologies that likely already exist in stores, like security cameras and Wi-Fi. The following are two technology trends retailers can use to optimize their shoppers’ in-store experiences — both during the holiday season and all year.
More Than Security: Cameras Yield Advanced Retail Insights
A customer’s movements and reactions can show where they head first, what excites them — and what doesn’t — meaning today’s security cameras aren’t just useful for catching break-ins and thieves on film. Today, there are always-streaming smart devices that capture patterns which can drive strategy and improve decision-making. With on-premise video, brick-and-mortar retailers can see what’s happening at their physical locations, observing foot traffic pattern and gauging customer reactions to learn more about shoppers’ preferences and their intent to purchase.
Modern high-quality video cameras are so much more than surveillance tools accomplishing baseline in-store security. Now, these devices can yield actionable insights to improve in-store offerings, maximize the placement of sales associates and in-store displays, and even develop individual promotions.
Wi-Fi Analytics Can Optimize Retail Environments
It goes without saying that e-commerce activity is easier to measure and analyze — but that doesn’t mean brick-and-mortar retailers can’t harness analytics to obtain valuable insights, too. Customers’ phones are never more than a short reach away, which means retailers who offer in-store Wi-Fi can use it to learn about shoppers’ patterns, behaviors and preferences.
Wi-Fi analytics can tell retailers whether the customer is a first-time or frequent visitor. With repeat customers, it can provide valuable insights about how much time they’ve spent previously and where they spent it — allowing retailers to tailor the shopper’s experience accordingly by maximizing in-store displays and developing promotions.
Additionally, analytics can help retailers deploy sales teams at exactly the right time, reducing the annoyance of a hovering (or, in some cases, absent) sales associate. Now a customer can get treated to “white-glove” service when ready — all because the business can see what is happening in the store in real-time.
Use Technology to Put the Customer First — And Go Beyond Being Just a Store
While more advanced technologies — artificial intelligence, chatbots, augmented reality and so on — are quickly becoming necessities, retailers can start by leveraging what they likely already have, such as security cameras and Wi-Fi, to learn more about customers and create personalized experiences.
Technological transformation doesn’t have to entail a total makeover, as long as retailers find new ways to maximize customer loyalty, grow revenue, and continue to establish a strong, future-proof technological foundation. While the market remains crowded, retailers that can become destinations for shoppers — not just stores — have a bright future.
Christian Nascimento is the Vice President of Product and Premise Services at Comcast Business.