Smart technology has gained plenty of attention in recent years, paving the way for retailers to upgrade the brick-and-mortar shopping experience. Local governments are adopting smart city concepts for new digital infrastructures while retailers have quietly embraced IoT sensors that monitor the customer journey. Here are ways smart retailing inspired by smart city development will impact consumers.
How Retail Can Learn from Smart Cities
The concept of smart retail is a subset of smart cities with similar goals of establishing an interconnected ecosystem that improves physical processes with analytics. Retail management platforms are steadily integrating with IoT and AI technology to enhance the customer experience, as well as internal processes. Local governments and utility companies have already pioneered the smart city paradigm that has led to more efficient operations and deeper connections with the community.
Smart cities include digital parking meters and traffic control monitoring devices that connect with the internet to allow for real-time analysis of traffic conditions. Traffic officials can use this information to make rerouting decisions due to accidents, bad weather, or road conditions. Machine learning technology can recommend alternate routes in a matter of seconds. Retailers can use this model to evaluate patterns in their in-store foot traffic, learning which displays get the most attention.
Understanding Smart Retailing
At the core of smart retailing is a mobile app that connects the store with customers. Once customers download the app, they can stay connected with the store; the same way homeowners constantly remain connected with their utility provider through an app that monitors energy consumption. A useful store app can keep customers updated on store deals and other offerings based on their purchasing history.
Smart shops are essentially physical stores that embrace smart technology to create a more compelling and diverse customer experience. These stores are increasingly becoming integrated with digital catalogs and other visual resources that provide deeper insights on products for customers.
Technologies such as virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) are blurring the lines between the digital and physical worlds. Collectively, all this new technology contributes to a smart ecosystem.
The store app serves as a digital doorway into the brand. It can serve the same function a website does, providing a convenient resource to quickly answer customer questions. Smart shops can be automated with interactive displays, driven by AI software that embodies facial recognition. Self-service checkout currently is one of the more common smart retailing strategies.
Here are two major trends currently revolutionizing the retail industry:
- Need for Simplified Organizational Processes - Retailers can use smart technology to refine and simplify organizational processes. Machine learning software can study mountains of data to detect system inefficiencies in seconds. The technology can further be used to improve communication within the organization and among customers. Retail management should consider a modern customer relationship management platform that provides an easy-to-read dashboard and integrates with data-gathering devices.
- Discovering Seamless Ways to Sell - Smart technologies can help improve the sales funnel and connect the customer more closely with the product. Since experiencing the product is the most crucial part of the customer journey, retailers should explore virtual options alongside other ways to make the checkout process more seamless. Thinking beyond traditional physical limitations is the key to maximizing the emerging strategies of smart retailing, allowing for more mobile-friendly experiences.