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The Christmas shopping season is in full swing and our high streets and shopping centres are bursting at the seams with shoppers who view their annual Christmas shopping trips as an important part of the festive build up.
Whether it’s to visit the Christmas markets, see the lights or visit Santa in his grotto, a shopping trip is a great way to soak up the atmosphere and is an experience you just can’t get by shopping online.
Our trips to the shops this year are heavily influenced by technology and every year we see more and more retailers using the latest tech, often behind the scenes, to enhance their customer experience and help shoppers to enjoy a smooth and seamless Christmas shopping trip.
This season’s technologies offer a glimpse into the future of retail. Does this scenario from Bain & Company sound familiar?
Maya is at a café browsing Instagram. She spots a dress perfect for an upcoming Christmas party in a sponsored post featuring her favourite ‘instablogger’. Little does she know it’s a targeted placement based on her previous shopping behaviour and her location near a shopping centre.
By simply clicking on the photograph, Maya reserves the dress to try on in a nearby store. Later that day, a smart screen in her dressing room reads a radio frequency identification (RFID) tag attached to the dress. The screen displays two pairs of shoes that match the dress. Maya selects one pair, and the right size is quickly delivered to her dressing room. Delighted with the dress and shoes, she takes them to the sales assistant, who uses a mobile payment system to allow her to buy on the spot. Maya flashes a personalised coupon on her phone offering a complimentary gift and finalises the purchase by paying with her in-app payment feature.
Bain & Company, Countdown to Christmas: Tech the Halls, 30th November 2017
This kind of technology is fast becoming a reality and we can already see it on the high street this Christmas, even though shoppers may not always be aware quite how much it is being used.
- Voice-activated technologies, such as Amazon’s Alexa, are being used by retailers to direct customers to their products.
- Mobile payment technology is enabling customers in some shops to skip the queues and purchase their goods directly from point of sale displays.
- Sophisticated artificial intelligence is enabling retailers to chat directly with their customers via Facebook Messenger or their own website.
- Mobile technology is being used to connect retailers directly with their customers through increasingly intelligent apps, which also help customers to use image search functions.
- Augmented reality is being used by some retailers to show customers what a product would look like in their own home or even how a dress or make up would look on them.
- Social media platforms are streamlining shopping so that consumers can purchase directly from videos or featured products.
- Smart robot technology is being used to free up employees to focus on high-value customer-facing activities while robots are being used behind the scenes in warehouses for picking and packing goods.
- RFID or Radio Frequency Identification is being used, as in the earlier scenario, alongside smart screens to show customers matching accessories or compatible products.
There’s no doubt about it, advances in technology are shaping the shopping experiences of millions of consumers and, at Christmas time, when the shops are particularly busy, retailers have the perfect opportunity to stand out and build a long-term relationship with their customers. But, at this time of year, technology is mostly used by retailers to help their customers have fun and enjoy their Christmas shopping experience. After all that’s what will bring them back in the New Year.
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Mobile Technology for Smart Retailers
If only there were ways for the High Street to maximise technology to compete with the rise of online shopping.