Are tech upgrades on your list of goals for 2016? They should be
Tuesday, January 19, 2016
January is a time for resolutions and goals — and not just personal ones. Business goals are a great way to motivate yourself, your employees and the company as a whole.
For retailers, goals can be widespread — from increasing inventory to creating new inventory, from opening new locations to increasing e-commerce sales. However, those are generic goals. How will you increase inventory? How will you open another location? Where will you open another location?
There's one answer to all of these questions: innovative technology.
What type of technology will benefit your company? Depending on what your underlying goals are, there are many different types you can incorporate into your business to increase success. From new POS systems to drones, you can improve any aspect of your business.
Let's take look at a few upgrades your retail company could benefit from.
With smart devices becoming so mainstream in the general public, it's no surprise their use in the business world has increased as well. However, many retailers are unaware of the benefits wearables can bring. Overall, wearables like smartwatches can give employees instant access to inventory, product information and other useful information.
In addition, wearables can be a major upgrade to your current communications system. Some retailers have no communication system, others have a communications system that is outdated, forcing employees to focus on the communication system (or lack thereof) rather than the customer.
Wearables have the power to reduce or eliminate these distractions and provide customers with the highest-quality service possible. So, if your retail business has a problem with communication, incorporating wearables could be a beneficial goal for 2016.
Did you know only 1 out of every 10 people who enter your retail business will buy something? However, those statistics significantly increase to 2 out of 3 once the customer has entered the dressing room, according to the Toronto Sun.
Did you also know only 7.4 percent of total retail sales were through e-commerce? That's according to a report from the U.S. Census Bureau. And one of the main reasons for lower e-commerce sales is the inability to touch, try on and physically evaluate the product.
Well, innovators have a new solution to all of these issues — virtual-reality dressing rooms. And, unlike what most might think, these dressing rooms are not just for those online. Virtual-reality dressing rooms do solve the online problem of being unable to try on clothing, but they also make trying on clothing in the store more successful — in much less time.
A simple way of thinking about the technology is comparing it to the reverse camera on your phone being used as a mirror. The technology picks up on your movements and allows you to select items and then superimpose the item on the screen. From there, you can change the color, size and accessories.
Instead of having to change outfits five times to determine the best color or size, you can adjust the color five times in much less time and hassle. Another benefit is customers can split the screen and compare two different outfits.
Even with these features, some customers still want to physically try on the item. This doesn't mean virtual-reality dressing rooms are useless to these customers. Instead of spending two hours in a store trying on 15 different outfits, the customer can use virtual reality to narrow down the selection from 15 to three and then only spend 15 minutes in the regular dressing room.
In addition to increasing odds of purchase by getting the customer to try on the products, virtual-reality dressing rooms have the ability to reduce returns by allowing the rushed consumer to quickly determine accurate size so they don't have to go home and try on items.
A staple of the retail industry is the barcode. Even as simple as the barcode may seem, it can cause major headaches. Products can have missing barcodes, and some can be distorted or inaccessible because of shape or location. Some companies and products might place multiple barcodes on the packaging, however this will take away from the packaging appeal.
So, how do we solve this barcode issue?
According to The Wall Street Journal, Digimarc Corp. and GS1 have teamed up to provide a solution: the digital watermark. Digital watermarks perform the same function as old-school barcodes, but they are invisible to the eye so they can be printed all over the packaging. Digital watermarks, just like barcodes, can be scanned to get information, but instead of having to scan the barcode "just right," the scanner only needs to be pointed in the general direction of the product.
If your business goal for the year is to streamline process and decrease wait times, digital watermarks might be the path to success. In addition, the "registration process required for each item will enable companies to ensure the information about products is consistent from the origin point through to the sale, even if the products change hands or are resold by many different vendors."
Now, retailers can track the product in ways never before seen.
Kiosks have the ability to combine e-commerce with physical locations in several different ways. If you are looking to increase sales or introduce new locations, kiosks might be the tech upgrade your business might need.
One style of kiosk is a freestanding, portable storefront that can be placed at any location — an airport, a theme park or even a train station. These kiosks allow for you to sell your products in alternate locations without the need for additional labor costs. Customers can purchase at the kiosk when they arrive or they can even purchase online and then go to the kiosk for pickup where it will be waiting for them.
In addition, these kiosks are connected to the Internet of Things so there is constant communication between the kiosk and the retailer's remote location. The IoT connection allows for remote control of temperature controls, immediate alerts of functioning issues, and reports containing data and analytics about the customers.
Another innovative use of the kiosk is shown through Star World — the creation of Jerry Azarkman, co-founder of Curacau. Star World blends online and offline with interactive in-store kiosks, according to Chain Store Age.
The concept is multiple kiosks serving as "departments" with displays of merchandise around the kiosk. From furniture, appliances and electronics to cosmetics, jewelry and gifts, these kiosks have the ability to combine different forms of retail platforms in one concept while also lowering overhead costs — no warehousing costs and lower labor costs.
Now, once you have your goals in mind, it's time to make sure they become accomplishments, not just a goal that gets forgotten. Write down the goals for your company, post them in several locations throughout employee areas and verbally discuss these goals.
Make everyone aware of these goals and maybe even offer incentives to push towards these goals. The majority of the responsibility might fall on you as the retailer, but without the help and support of the entire team, you have a lower probability of success.
It's time to hold yourself accountable. Make your goals and push yourself toward them. Don't stop until goals become accomplishments.
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