Technology is often portrayed as an obstacle for retailers, rather than an asset.
Even iconic brands like Nike have stumbled recently, with a lackluster outlook for sales growth.
While many struggling retailers cite online shopping as a detriment to their brick-and-mortar store sales, the truly innovative brands have begun to embrace technology as a vital element of their strategy for customer acquisition, experience, and retention.
You’ll certainly see some bold tech moves from retailers in the near future, with augmented virtual reality, drone delivery, and smart dressing rooms already on the horizon.
However, rather than waiting for these exciting technologies to advance, retailers can and should leverage existing technology to identify their target customers, select the right product offerings, and improve their shopping experience, both in-store and online.
This starts with leveraging on-demand services like WeGoLook and other gig economy platforms to improve shopping experiences and control inventory.
The Gig Economy and Secret Shoppers
In an attempt to improve customer experience, major retailers are seeking to hire in-house secret shoppers to benchmark a variety of customer experiences.
Although this is a positive trend, the use of this tool can be much more effective through gig economy companies like WeGoLook.
WeGoLook is an on-demand asset verification platform that can dispatch one of its 30,000 gig workers at the swipe of a smartphone. Instead of hiring an army of secret shoppers across the U.S., retailers would be wise to tap into the growing gig economy by leveraging these flexible and cost effective assets.
Rolling out a new marketing campaign in a certain State? Tap into gig workers for your secret shoppers for the time-period of the campaign instead of hiring staff. Gig workers can be dispatched to stores as customers and then report back via a secure report to detail customer experience, display effectiveness, and staff friendliness.
Crowdsourcing: Know What Customers Want
Consumers are willing to give their contact information to brands when they find value in a particular product or service. Rather than let this information sit idly in a CRM database, retailers can gain invaluable insight into their customers’ buying habits and interests.
By analyzing consumer data, retailers can clearly see big-picture industry trends and individual shopping preferences. With this information, retailers can stay relevant and deliver digital customized marketing campaigns to guide each prospect through a strategic buying process.
Targeted Marketing: Make Business Personal
Have you ever Googled a particular product, only to have an ad for that item follow you around the Internet for a few days afterward? That was no coincidence. The rise of e-commerce has dramatically changed digital marketing, as brands now have the ability to create highly targeted ads for specific niche audiences.
By following up an inquiry with a thoughtfully designed ad, retailers have a tremendous opportunity to acquire new customers and drive additional sales from existing customers. Plus, with the power of data analytics, brands can and should A/B test their campaigns to see which approaches are most effective in driving revenue.
Seemingly minor design changes like font color, button placement, photo selection, or headline wording can have major influences on a campaign.
Social Media: Share-worthy Service
To get customers’ attention, brands must establish a presence where their customers spend time – on social media.
Retailers should consistently provide content that their target customers want to read. For instance, someone who recently purchased a pair of running shoes might also be interested in a blog about healthy dinner recipes, an ad for the perfect running socks, or an interview with a famous marathoner.
By providing content that resonates with target customers, retailers can foster familiarity and brand loyalty, as customers will feel understood and appreciated. Many brands will take this a step further by offering exclusive promotions to customers who join their mailing list, like them on Facebook, or follow them on Instagram.
Make It Mobile: Streamline Shopping
Retailers can customize the buying process even further by offering a mobile app to their customers. They can then create a profile with their shopping preferences and payment information, and then make wish lists, search for merchandise, locate stores, and order online within the app.
Contrary to popular opinion, mobile apps do not necessarily detract from in-store sales. Some retailers offer the option to order online and pick up the merchandise in person. Since many customers will end up making additional purchases in store, this option is beneficial for both the retailer and the consumer.
By providing this “happy medium” option for consumers, retailers can further cater to the needs of their target audience.
Inventory Control: To Buy or Not to Buy
Managing inventory is a complex process that many retailers struggle with at some point. Identifying and understanding a target audience is more important than ever, especially when you’re trying to decide whether or not to order hundreds or thousands of a particular item to stock.
According to a recent report by KPMG, retailers are losing $1.75 trillion per year due to overstocks, out-of-stocks, and returns.
To manage inventory properly, retailers should leverage technology that can verify inventory on the floor and in the stockroom. Not only will this create a seamless shopping experience, but it will also enable the store employees to spend more time assisting customers.
Loss Prevention: Anti-theft Technology and the Gig Economy
Unfortunately, many retailers struggle to prevent theft from their stores, in the forms of shoplifting and employee fraud. Some businesses are using technology to document information about any illegal activity by former staff members to reduce the chances that other retailers will hire these employees in the future.
Other technology solutions exist to help pinpoint and prevent instances of theft among customers. With retail management software, companies can monitor their inventory and get alerted when any merchandise goes missing.
Further, leveraging on-demand gig worker platforms like WeGoLook would give security managers at retail corporations the flexibility to deploy professional loss prevention assets to stores across North America at a moment's notice.
Merchandising: Perfect Product Placement
Retailers must pay careful attention to the look and feel of products on the shelves, along with the installation and maintenance of visual displays and promotional materials.
To determine the ideal arrangements for products and promotional displays, retailers should use technology to monitor the best-performing stores and replicate their merchandising approach.
Rather than raising the white flag in a battle against e-commerce, brick-and-mortar retailers should incorporate technology into their strategy.
In the age of data analytics, retailers have more power than ever before to create seamless buying journeys, both online and in store. By leveraging technology and the gig economy, retailers can not only understand their target audience, but also deliver a fully customized and secure shopping experience.