“The only constant in retail is change,” goes the saying. New retail models are surfacing from emerging technologies to engage a generation of discerning shoppers, in turn transforming the retail industry.
Already we’re seeing how advanced retail technology has pushed retailers to use artificial intelligence and machine-learning tools to adapt to today’s retail market.
According to Gartner, worldwide retail technology spending will increase 3.6% to $210.9 billion in 2020.
To compete, retailers should reimagine how they can use new technology to create value for their customers through store experiences—whether online, mobile, or physical retail. Executed well, these experiences will connect with the customer more effectively.
Why you should invest in retail technology
More than three out of five consumers say retail technologies have improved their shopping experiences, according to a survey by the National Retail Federation. Eight in 10 say they’ve had better interactions as a result of these technology investments.
National Retail Federation (Source)
This is evidence enough to prove that you should be actively seeking out new, advanced retail technologies. Below we’ll look at two retail technology trends that have been making waves in the industry, how companies are using the technologies, and how you can optimize them for your business.
Buy online, pickup in-Store (BOPIS)
The practice of offering the “buy online, pick up in-store” deliver option isn’t new to retail, but as shoppers become more comfortable buying online, retailers have continued to strengthen their BOPIS offerings.
Example of how Petco uses BOPIS through technology
The company rolled out its BOPIS service in about 1,500 stores nationwide through Yantrik’s personalized fulfillment platform in late 2018.
Petco’s BOPIS messaging is featured prominently on its homepage (Source)
The system gives Petco a single view of inventory to support online order processing and fulfillment. It allows customers to shop online and pick up at their nearest store within an hour or less.
Benefits of BOPIS
Provides better customer experience: BOPIS allows customers to browse your shop’s catalog, add items to their cart, and check out at their own pace.
No shipping fees (for you and the customer): 65% of consumers say they refer to free-shipping thresholds before adding items to their online carts. That’s why BOPIS is a win-win for you and your customers, as it saves you both time and money.
Brings traffic to your store: The in-store pickups bring additional traffic to your store which can lead to additional purchases the customer makes. According to Gartner, these additional purchases can average 10-15% of the value of orders being collected.
Considerations for implementing BOPIS successfully
Promote the service: Communicate the availability of your service within stores and on your website. Provide plenty of clear signage in high-traffic areas in physical stores as well as through dedicated banners online.
Deliver on speed: Customers who use BOPIS cannot wait for the item to be delivered to their homes. Retailers with successful BOPIS offerings have moved to same-day fulfillment lead times, often as little as two to four hours when an order is fulfilled. U.K. hardware and tool retailer Screwfix, which sells to trade and building customers, offers its click and collect service on a lead time of “less than a minute.”
Voice search technology
Voice-enabled device interaction is becoming a part of your customers’ daily routine.
- Presently, nearly one in five adults in the U.S. have access to a smart speaker.
- By 2020, about 30% of searches will be done without a screen, according to Gartner, and about one in five adults will use mobile voice search at once a month.
- Global shipments of devices soared by 187% between Q2 in 2017 and Q2 2018 with Google and Amazon leading the pack in total shipments at 5.4 and 4.1 million units, respectively.
Retailers who want to remain on the top of mind to consumers will have to find a way to implement voice technology into their marketing strategies.
Example of how Argos uses voice search
U.K. catalog retailer Argos launched a “voice shopping” service that allows customers to reserve products in a local store through their Google Home device. The service also works via Google Assistant on smartphones.
Argos Google Assistant follows up with questions to understand customers’ needs (Source)
“This launch is step one, and I don’t expect to turn on the app and suddenly double our sales,” Argos chief executive John Rogers told the BBC.
“But I expect people will use it and experiment with it—and if we can make it a seamless process, you can see why people would want to use it.”
Shoppers will be able to ask the device about the product’s availability and reserve items.
Benefits of voice search
Improves customer experience: Devices like Alexa and Google Assistant can provide valuable insights about your customers. These can lead to highly personalized messages which creates an optimized customer experience, in turn encouraging retention and brand loyalty.
Speedy checkout: Speaking is faster than typing. Purchases through voice-enabled devices are designed to be faster than text-based ones. For example, Virgin Trains in the U.K. launched a capability allowing customers to book tickets through Alexa. It found that the average booking time decreased from seven minutes to two minutes through voice.
Considerations for implementing voice search successfully
Implement a voice SEO strategy: Discover keywords and understand what your customers are searching for through SEO software. Optimize your listing based on your findings after.
Optimize your listing for local search: A survey by BrightLocal found that 53% of people owning smart devices performed searches for local businesses every day. Start by getting your business listed if you aren’t already. Next, work on building your customer reviews.
How you can implement BOPIS or voice commerce
Not sure you have what it takes to implement BOPIS or voice commerce? With the right software partner that equips you with BOPIS or SEO capabilities, it may not be the pipe dream you initially thought. Here’s how you can start:
- Find a vendor that will support your omnichannel retail strategy: Does your potential vendor enable easy plug-in solutions to give your shoppers more options, such as BOPIS?
- Invest in SEO software: A great SEO tool will do the heavy-lifting for you in terms of analyzing strategic keywords, tracking the performance of your site and giving you ideas for how to optimize for SEO to grow your customer base.
- Talk to our software experts at (844) 680-2046: Through a free, 15-minute consultation, our retail experts will give you a full assessment and product recommendations based on your BOPIS and/or voice commerce needs.