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Did you know that 86% of all retail sales still occur in brick-and-mortar stores? You may have heard reports about the success of online retail and the “Amazon Effect”. Statistics indicate that the high street store is still not dead.
With a growing emphasis on e-commerce, how can brick-and-mortar stores ensure their survival?
The solution is in employing technological systems that meet the electronic needs of customers whilst instore.
What technological solutions are available? Check out our in-depth guide below.
1. See In-Store, Buy Online
In a growing number of retail stores, you can enter the store, try on clothes, touch and feel the garments – but not purchase them. The purchase takes place on an e-commerce site. This is the world of See-in-store, buy-online.
This is being expanded beyond the high street. As part of retail campaigns, some retailers are setting up pop-up stores where purchases are completed online.
This has distinct advantages. The store does not have to retain any inventory. The physical footprint of the store is much lower as there is no inventory space required.
This is not limited to clothing. There are more and more retailers who are preferring to set up shop rather than sell solely via online channels. See here for a rapidly expanding chain that serves a niche market.
This lower-priced store could result in a larger number of smaller stores being opened in the high street.
2. Mirrors That Do More Than Reflect
Fitting rooms are an inefficient use of space. They take up a large amount of space and require staff to replace unwanted items of clothing after customers have left the store. They decrease the efficiency of a store sizeably.
However, this could be about to end with the invention of the Memory Mirror. This is essentially a large video screen with an HD camera. It will superimpose an image of a garment on to the person standing in front of it. The person will electronically try on the garment. It will even retain a number of images for the customer to compare different clothing items.
It even has the functionality of sharing the image with the person via email. This allows them to take it home and think about it or ask others for opinions. This too raises the chances of sales significantly.
3. Augmented Reality
Memory Mirror works smoothly and effectively for garments. However, how can the same principle be applied for larger items such as furniture?
The new app from IKEA allows you to see how an item of furniture would look in your home. You can use the app at home to take a picture of the location that furniture will eventually occupy. Following this, you can visit the store and use the image to visualize whether the various pieces of furniture will fit in the space.
Many feel that this will eventually be used across the retail industry with Google-Glass style wearable technology. People will be able to visualize how their potential purchases will look.
4. Cashier-Free Stores
Queuing is a continual pain for retail companies. Some run the risk of overstaffing by employing more personnel than needed in the hopes of preventing queuing. Others risk the considerable loss of sales by not addressing the issue.
What is the solution? Made famous, ironically by Amazon, the solutions according to many could be the cashier-less store.
Cashierless stores provide consistency as the person will use an almost identical checkout system to the same online process. This means that the whole experience is familiar and much easier to implement than many think.
5. Face-ID Purchasing
What could be quicker than Apple pay? Not using a payment card or code at all. The concept of payment using only your face is becoming more popular in China.
While it is currently only available there, its success will likely bring it closer to home. To purchase an item, customers will look at a screen and smile to confirm the transaction.
This is advertised as having a higher level of security than using a bank or credit card. When entering a PIN code in a store, a person standing close by could observe it. However, with facial recognition technology, your face provides the security protocol.
You may have used chatbots when interacting with websites at home. However more and more this same action is being performed in brick-and-mortar stores.
Bots are also being deployed in stores in a more physical sense. In many large retail stores, Robots are being employed to perform simple tasks. They can answer simple questions, or research answers types into a touchpad.
This follows the more widespread of robots in warehousing. AI is employed to help the robots “learn” their surroundings. Their skills grow as they interact with and understand their surroundings.
Drones have been one of the most talked-about developments in retail. The concept that delivery companies could be bypassed by drones that deliver direct to homes in a matter of minutes (depending on your location).
This has been implemented in very limited circumstances. However, this is likely to be one of the most influential developments of the next 10-20 years.
This technology complements the trend discussed earlier of see-in-store, buy-online. Any reticence to see-in-store but wait for delivery is removed as the item could be delivered within minutes of the purchase.
Retail Technological Systems and Much More
Technological systems such as in-store touch screens and equipped sales assistants are bringing new life to the high street store. It is killing the rumor that amazon style retail will completely replace the brick-and-mortar store.
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