Jeff Bradbury, Senior Marketing Director, Hughes North America, explains that with the rapid evolution of technology, there are decision points everywhere. These point-of-decision technologies and the network that powers them have supplanted traditional point of sale as a cornerstone of a positive customer experience.
Not so long ago, the concept of a retail “point of sale” was relatively straightforward: where a customer performs payment was the ultimate buying decision point and therefore an important point in marketing. retail and customer experience. Today, due to the rapid evolution of technology, decision points are everywhere and smart retailers have to focus on the quality of the customer experience at a number of touchpoints, real and virtual, previously. unimaginable. These point-of-decision technologies and the network that powers them have supplanted traditional point of sale as a cornerstone of a positive customer experience.
Decision points everywhere
Historically, retail traders focused heavily on points of sale, as this was the place in the buyer’s journey they made a purchasing decision to, especially for high margin items. But consider how different the customer journey is today. Before even walking through the doors of a retailer, a customer may have already made online comparisons. Their phones can vibrate with the latest in-store offers personalized by their purchase history. And once inside the store, they’ll feel the powerful influence of technology on purchasing decisions and the customer experience everywhere – with interactive displays, digital signage, and targeted mobile marketing delivering insights, recommendations. and purchasing incentives.
On some physical sites, it is difficult to identify a single point of sale. For example, at spirits retailer BevMo !, AI-powered robots help customers while they shop, guiding them to products and providing recommendations based on customer preferences. (Retail robots can also verify planogram accuracy and determine out-of-stock products, price discrepancies, and misplaced items using visual recognition and machine learning technologies.) A study by the Robotics Institute from Carnegie Mellon University shows that retailers lose $ 26 billion a year because of customers unable to purchase the items they want due to lack of inventory or the inability to locate the item. Retail robots are an emerging trend that will contribute to a better customer experience with continuous rather than final point of sale.
The new fund
As technology creates new decision points from the start to the end of the customer journey, it is also transforming the traditional point of sale, with retailers implementing solutions to make the checkout process faster and more efficient. Since 41% of shoppers will change their mind about a purchase if there is a long checkout line, retailers are increasingly offering so-called “frictionless” checkouts. Originally, the term implied ease and less hassle, but frictionless reshaped the shopping experience of consumers with innovations such as mobile wallets, digital receipts, free and fast shipping, and shopping. with one click.
The industry has also seen the advent of swap-based checkout, putting point of sale on a tablet so employees can order customers from anywhere in the store. Swap-based checkout allows customers to purchase items in-store and even have items shipped right to their homes – for convenience or because they are out of stock in the store.
Today, a frictionless experience means speed, personalization, “wow” experiences and anticipation (not just satisfaction) of consumer needs. Additionally, the global pandemic has introduced new reasons for retailers to embrace frictionless checkout and mobile payments, as consumers increasingly focus on a more hygienic customer experience.
Amazon is an industry leader when it comes to frictionless payments. Its Amazon Go stores, introduced in 2018, do not offer any formal “checkout”. Now the company is opening Amazon Fresh grocery stores. The new store model is a technological marvel with amenities such as: built-in Alexa shopping lists; orientation and tracking of purchased items integrated into the carts; frictionless body; and lots of digital signage. It’s a perfect example of how technology has redefined the customer experience and the concept of point of sale.
The importance of the network
Compared to the classic aisle and checkout retail environment, today’s high-tech stores are a complex system of digital touchpoints, with the network being the unseen force that powers the new customer experience. Retailers who want to keep pace with technology – and their competitors – need to invest in a network that can support the technologies that enable the modern “point of sale”.
Here are some ways a strong network supports in-store technologies:
• Strong and reliable customer Wi-Fi supports mobile connectivity, which is essential for in-store mobile marketing, scanning QR codes, and operating mobile payment applications. Along with customer analytics, in-store Wi-Fi can also provide a wealth of information on customer behavior to help inform marketing or operational innovations and improve the customer experience.
• A separate and secure store network enables support for dynamic digital signage and IoT connectivity for technologies such as robots and interactive displays, as well as the essentials of the most advanced frictionless payment transactions, such as mobile point-of-sale platforms, cart or shelf sensors, and high-definition cameras.
• The right network also enables seamless integration of technologies – for example, online shopping, in-store pick-up operations, which can combine location data from customer Wi-Fi with the in-store network handling the preparation process. orders.
Fuel a positive experience
Technology is emerging as the backbone of the customer experience, increasingly responsible for delivering the overall brand promises of retailers and driving consumer appeal and satisfaction. AT Kearney’s 2019 Retail Technology Survey found 73% of customers say technology is influencing their future store visits, an increase of almost 50% year-over-year . But studies also show that more than half of customers were disappointed with digital in-store experiences, the majority because the technology didn’t work the way they expected.
Just as a positive experience with in-store technology can lead to a positive customer experience, a disappointing experience with in-store technology can result in a negative overall customer experience. And, as all retailers know, poor customer service, whether human or technological, takes a toll on business. It is essential that the network on which the digital experience relies is optimized for superior performance.
In today’s retail business, the traditional point of sale is no longer the central (or even the most significant) point of engagement with customers. The continuous evolution of revolutionary technologies has created a multi-point retail environment in which any encounter can be a point of sale or a point of failure. In this new digital environment, failure at any point in the customer journey is not an option.
Jeff Bradbury is Senior Director of Marketing, Hughes North America.