By: Jennifer Devitt on March 16th, 2014
How brick and mortar stores are using technology to do routine tasks.
For the last few years, technology and e-commerce have kept brick and mortar stores on their toes trying to keep up. In the last six to twelve months many retailers are developing ways to incorporate technology, e-commerce, and apps into their daily store activity. Physical stores are trying to combat "showrooming". Stores that have well-functioning e-commerce systems are trying to utilize data from customers with profiles in their systems inside their stores. Retailers like Nordstrom are showing great gains in this arena.
Nordstrom is utilizing Pinterest inside their stores. They have items on display in the store with the Pinterest logo attached that are most popular with its Pinterest followers making them easy to find and purchase. Nordstrom is also using data from its app to assist sales staff with assisting regular customers. They are utilizing information customers choose to provide on their profiles and use it with in-store tracking to provide customer service.
They are also using iPhones and custom software to process returns. Yesterday I experienced this first hand. I had an item I purchased online and returned to the store. The sales clerk scanned my receipt/tags with her phone, clicked a few buttons and then scanned a bar code on a machine that prints receipts. She had me sign via the device as well. No cash register needed. By simply scanning my receipt she accessed my account, quickly processed the return and sent me on my way.
Others stores are taking iPhone and tablet use further by using them as mobile cash registers. At the Apple store, I think it's fabulous that I can pay the staff member who assisted me with my purchase on the spot without having to go stand in a line. They swipe your card, email me a receipt and say "Thanks, have a nice day!" and I am quickly on my way! Payment like this eliminates the need for expensive cash register purchases and multiple checkout counters. This way, every employee you encounter is a customer service counter, check out counter and sales rep all in one! Staff can scan an item and check stock availability in size, color etc. And, if it's not in stock in that physical store they can quickly order for you and have it sent directly to your home.
Many small retailers are still not even offering e-commerce, which is hindering their business. They are not appreciating that e-commerce can also assist with your daily in-store purchases. It can tie in with their inventory system and reorder items that are getting low in stock, or tell a staff member if they have an item in the back without the need to leave the customer waiting while they check. These apps, devices, and custom software are making many tasks quicker and easier on employees as well as creating better shopping experiences for customers.
How many of you retailers out there are using technology like the examples mentioned above? Did you think e-commerce was strictly for online stores only? Would your business benefit from tying your inventory system to your sales system? Talk to a qualified developer today to see what types of system integration your company could benefit from. Have you experienced technology in a store like I did at Nordstrom? I would love to hear about your experience.