In the wake of poorer than expected Christmas trading results, a veteran of the retail trade is warning that if businesses fail to innovate, they will continue to face challenges getting customers to walk through their doors.
Chief executive of mobile payment solutions specialist Powa Technologies, Dan Wagner, says that innovation is key for retailers to hoping to boost their market share. Smartphones and tablets have changed the way customers interact with retailers, yet many businesses have failed to change their practices to accommodate this new reality.
"The shopper’s experience hasn’t really changed significantly for the last 50 years. Stores need urgent and radical change to compete in the new shopping paradigm. They should be deploying a range of new techniques and technologies to improve engagement with their customers."
He suggested that low-energy Bluetooth beacons could be strategically placed around stores, notifying customers as they approach special offers. Technology of this kind would also be capable of retaining data about customers shopping behaviour.
IT systems could bring up a customer's engagement record and alert staff if they have an order they can collect from the store. Shop workers could greatly improve their productivity by tailoring their service to the individuals records. This concept has become known as clientelling.
Supermarkets should use this approach to offer immediate delivery for the rapidly increasing number of online orders. Shops could use the geolocation information about where orders have been placed and alert the customer, via text message, to visit the store nearest their location to pick up their items or offer different delivery times.
"The technology is now available to allow traditional retailers to up their game and start to adopt online techniques. The number of ways that retailers can engage with their customers is increasing but the supermarket chains need to adopt a more technology-led approach to get their customers coming in to the stores and spending more of their precious money there."