Smart shelves: Taking customer satisfaction to the next level
Friday, October 09, 2015
How important is customer service to the success of a retailer? Approximately 50 percent of shoppers who experience poor customer service will stop doing business with that retailer, according to Kissmetrics. In addition, 81 percent of shoppers who have a good customer service experience will become repeat shoppers.
It's clear retailers need to focus on customer service in order to maintain success and profitability.
Leading the way in customer satisfaction is Kroger, which has a strong focus on customer service and providing a pleasant experience — at an affordable cost. And it's not all talk. It's apparent when you walk into any Kroger location.
From short lines to a clean, organized store, Kroger has taken customer service to the next level. The supermarket chain is now taking the next step — incorporating new technology to continuously improve their customer experience.
How is Kroger making use of technology?
One of the first initiatives of Kroger was the loyalty card. Not only does it provide discounts to card holders, but it also provides Kroger with detailed shopper information. Kroger has also installed a QueVision system that uses sensors at the shopper entrances to predict the number of cashiers needed before the lines get outrageous, according to RetailWire.
And now, Kroger's most recent endeavor involves transforming basic product shelves into smart shelves that track, inform, advertise and much more.
The concept behind the smart shelves is to make the business run more efficiently. Smart shelves benefit the shopper by providing an accurate look at a product — from price to nutritional information — as well as giving reminders about specific items.
The smart shelves benefit the retailer by providing real-time inventory information, allowing the retailer to change product prices in a matter of seconds rather than hours or days. It's also another avenue for advertising and marketing.
With all of these benefits, the general effect of the smart shelves is a better overall customer service experience. The shopper not only has accurate information while shopping,but also access to staff members who have the time and ability to truly take care of customers.
What are the initial results of Kroger’s test run on smart shelves?
At Kroger's Cold Springs, Kentucky, location, smart shelves are being tested and analyzed. Customers are already starting to take notice.
"I've noticed them transitioning to this," shopper Amy Siry told The Cincinnati Enquirer. "I like it, the prices are more noticeable. The numbers are bigger and brighter."
Still in the testing period, Kroger has already determined some of the pros and cons of the smart shelves.
Reminders — especially of items that are most likely to be forgotten — are a great benefit of the smart shelves: "During testing in the diaper aisle, the store sold more wet wipes when the shelves flashed 'don't forget baby wipes' reminders."
However, there have been downfalls. One example is from video ads in the cereal aisle. "Children were delighted to see the Cheerios honeybee fly 'inside' the edge of the shelf ... but some parents weren’t thrilled to have to pull their kids away from multiple performances."
Even though it was entertaining, it still caused some issues, and Kroger is taking note of the concern. In addition, the smart shelves have audio capabilities — but for many shoppers, it was "jarring to listen to a sales pitch from a store fixture."
What does the future with smart shelves look like?
Any retailer could benefit from the installation of smart shelves. Just like Kroger, retailers can use the technology to provide customers with real-time product information, advertise and promote, and increase efficiency of employees. The possibilities are almost endless.
One of the goals with smart shelves is to expand the RFID technology to things like smart carts or your "smart" shopping list. With this, shoppers would be alerted when they passed up an item on their shopping list, and the technology would help them locate the item on the shelf.
Smart carts would give the retailer the ability to more precisely track shoplifters. For example, if a product was taken off the shelf and not placed in the smart cart (or back on the shelf), the retailer would be alerted to the possible theft before the culprit left the store.
Smart shelves also have the ability to prevent items from going out of stock. When an item gets low, the shelves can alert the retailer that an item is close to being out of stock — time to reorder! Or, the shelves could be designed to actually "place" the orders when an item becomes low.
Finally, smart shelves can assist retailers in product placement — after data has been collected. With smart shelves in place, retailers can determine which products people picked up the most often, how long they looked at the product before setting it down, and which products were most often picked up and purchased without being on the shopper's list.
These all point to products that attract attention — impulse buys. The retailers can take this information and place products in ideal spots to increase average consumer transaction amounts.
Preventing customers from forgetting items, preventing items from going out of stock, and placing highly desired goods in prime locations will improve customer satisfaction (not to mention the store's bottom line) with little effort from the retailer. The smart shelves will inevitably make the shopper leave the store with a pleasant, stress-free memory — and that memory will stick so the next time they go shopping, they will remember that experience and return for that same pleasant experience.
Smart shelves have the ability to transform the retail industry. Unlike many other technologies, smart shelves incorporate many different aspects of retail business into one. From stocking and inventory to advertising and marketing, from nutritional information to product location, this is one technology that will not only improve your customer experience, but also transform the way your business runs.
Are you ready to stop performing mundane tasks and start focusing on your customers?
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