In Part 2 of this series, we explored how advanced mapping technologies can support in-store wayfinding as informed by the customer’s online shopping list. Retailers are adopting these technologies with increasing frequency to build and maintain an omnichannel strategy. In this post, we’ll explore some of the compelling tools helping retailers prosper in the Retail 4.0 era and what makes them ideal for today’s retail environment. From Google researches to browsing brick-and-mortar storefronts, the contemporary customer demands a seamless, multifaceted retail experience. It’s on retailers to keep up or risk falling behind.
Mobile apps have already become an integral part of retailers’ omnichannel networks. Online browsing and ordering, instant product alerts, and custom mobile wallets are common. These apps help bridge the gap between an online and physical experience. Using data capture and analytic technologies, retailers can leverage omnichannel marketing to take control of the customer journey.
Launched in 2017, the Target Wallet app is designed to make check-out faster and more convenient, allowing customers to access their Target REDCard or credit card as well as apply discount coupons. In return, the app gathers critical consumer data that can be used to personalize the customer experience and improve overall store operations.
Walmart’s Store Assistant feature helps shoppers build smart lists, which check stock availability and calculate the price for each item before a customer enters the store. Once there, store maps guide customers to each item, down to the aisle and shelf section. This data can then be leveraged to offer personalized recommendations and discounts for the future, as well as track and anticipate overall buying trends.
Virtual and Augmented Reality
Retailers can build a dynamic and interactive buying experience through virtual and augmented reality. In doing so, retailers can optimize the customer experience with immersive, emotive technology while collecting precise data to perfect their offerings.
The Audi VR experience allows buyers to customize their dream car and explore its interior and exterior in realistic detail, while at the same time gathering key consumer data.
This new feature uses Apple’s ARkit augmented reality technology to help customers visualize “how frames, textures, and colors will look on their face by using accurate measurements and a proprietary method they call ‘unique placement’.” When potential customers use the feature, they supply useful metrics on demographics, trends, etc.
Retail robots are best at repetitive tasks, like scanning labels to detect out-of-stocks and mispriced items. Robots have the capacity to free employees up to handle tasks best left to humans, like problem-solving with customers. By using robotics and the data they gather, retailers can improve the efficiency of their inventory and fulfillment systems to satisfy the needs of their omnichannel customers.
Bossa Nova’s advanced data and robotic technologies automate the collection of on-shelf product data, extracts actionable information in real-time, and delivers prioritized tasks to team members. Retailers can also leverage this data to inform the supply chain, build mobile experiences like Walmart’s Smart Assistant, and more.
The Alphabot was introduced to Walmart’s warehouses in 2018 to perform storage and retrieval of Walmart’s buy-online-pickup-in-store and ship-from-store grocery orders. Like Bossa Nova, Alphabot’s data can be used to improve store operations and enhance the customer experience.
7Fresh’s autonomous shopping carts follow customers around the store instead of having to be pushed, freeing up hands to focus on children or other personal tasks. These carts offer ample opportunity to collect valuable consumer data as they track shoppers through the entirety of their in-store journey.
There are countless different strategies to build an omnichannel experience, but rich, synchronized data is at the heart of them all. In the future, customers should assume they will encounter at least one, if not many, of these exciting new technologies each time they shop. From a robot analyzing products on shelves to an AR view of shelf information accessible from a mobile device, we expect retailers to invest in building technologically enhanced environments. Now imagine where all of these technologies work symbiotically with each other and their human counterparts - the opportunities to support and grow a seamless omnichannel experience become endless. It’s clear that to win Retail 4.0, it’s all about the data.
In Part 4, we dive deep into how retailers can best leverage data - from how it affects the supply chain through to the last mile fulfillment and the emerging opportunities of predictive AI.
Header Image: Total Retail