As retail continues to shift away from a simple method of connecting consumer with goods, to an experience and value driven event, it’s time to take a look at our stores. For most retailers, the store is underutilized beyond belief. Whether this is a lack of technical understanding of the capabilities now afforded retailers, or simply limited budget and time to put it together, makes it a pressing issue. Since it is such a pressing time for retailers, this post is to explore some of the most ambitious, practical, and value-oriented methods to grow sales in-store. The practical applications herein are primarily technical in nature, but all are doable and well within the realm of possibility. What’s important to take into account here is that yes, indeed, these types of innovation and advancements require an investment of time and money, but this will pay off in time savings and ROI when done right.
The point of this post is to incite action among those who may be hesitant to take action, despite some pretty big reasons to do just that. Without providing real hard facts and reasons to make some changes, the advice may fall on deaf ears. Here are a few reasons to think seriously about the retail store ideas which make the most sense for you.
While these are not the cure all end all statistics, they do point to a consumer base increasingly becoming familiar (and using) the in-store capabilities provided through technologies. So, what are some of the leading retail store ideas?
Well, this one is no surprise. It makes the top of the list because as you can see it is actually a wanted service to consumers. I recently made a BOPUS purchase at Home Depot, and the experience was rather soothing, as you can see in the post written about it. This service is certainly a logistics challenge, but if you aren’t at the level of providing this, it’s time to reinvest in an omnichannel capable system like Epic Commerce to handle BOPUS and any other form of buying: mobile, order in-store ship to home etc.
An underutilized technology as a whole, frictionless checkout offers the promise of convenience for consumers and lower overhead for retailers. While the technology is still in its infancy, we can see the rise already (just look at the Amazon Go stores). If you’ve got the commerce system in place which can facilitate BOPUS, you can surely offer some sort of frictionless checkout, even if it means having a gatekeeper at the exit door checking the mobile receipts. This sort of checkout reduces checkout lines, decreases friction for buyers actually buying, and helps retailers track in-store data even more accurately. On that last point, consider a person who adds a shirt to their “cart” on the phone, then automatically this consumer get’s a notification that the pants they have in their online cart, are available in the next aisle. This is powerful and provides a real incentive for both shoppers and retailers alike to adopt it. Uses of the tech go way beyond this case, but you first must have something in place to use it.
This retail store idea starts online but is having a bigger and bigger impact on the purchase decisions of customers across channels. It is estimated that 46% of consumers discretionary buying decisions come from some sort of online media channel. That being said, how can we leverage it in a retail store idea to maximize conversions? One retailer in the UK provided live counts of the number of likes on a select few items. In another example, Hubspot uses social proof within their blog to drive higher engagement and conversion with reviews and testimonials on products. The idea here, no matter what the case is to leverage the “herd mentality” coined by psychologists to drive more people to the stores. In the case below, Aeropostal used social “influencers” (those with a large Instagram, Twitter or other following) to engage a targeted audience based on the popularity of the influencer. Now, these are all good and should be put into practice one way or the other but there are more advanced ways to utilize the technology. For instance, there is now the capability to provide suggested products based on a consumer’s interests and friends on Facebook, saying something like “10 of your friends have purchased this top” or “this is a top selling item of 2017” in a notification. it may seem cheesy, but it works.
These are all categorized under location specific retail store ideas. Geolocation is great to get people to the store in the first place. For instance, using something like Proximo you can deliver a real-time product suggestion, the location of the closest store, and a navigation button to get there. Simple, yet effective is the name of the game with this one. Then, once the customer is at the store you can utilize beacons to improve shopper navigation around the store, announce sales in the next aisle via a notification on the customer’s smartphone, or to provide details relating to a product. As we move down the line, RFID is a near range location technology mainly utilized to pull up information just based on the signal from a RFID tag. This enables frictionless checkout, smoother operational efficiencies, and ease of checkout, though they are not in widespread deployment, yet. NFC, as we have seen, has been a retail store idea that actually caught on quite quickly in the grand scheme of things. Most retailers now will offer Android Pay, Apple Pay, and others at the POS which allows you to pay for goods simply by scanning your eWallet over the NFC sensor. Each of these actually works in succession with the rest, though none are required for the next to work. The possibilities here are again near limitless, as you can provide navigation, products, purchase and more steps by directly integrating with these technologies.
In one retail store idea the point is to actually turn the store into a giant vending machine. Customers can approach from the outside of the store, present their smartphone orders via RFID and moments later the whole order comes out a slot in the side of the building. Yes, perhaps this seems a bit self-defeating in a way, but at the end of the day, it is all about fulfilling the customer’s order in the lowest cost, convenient, and fastest way possible. This method checks all the boxes and is sure to grow in popularity especially in heavy urban environments.
This may not be on your horizon as a retail store operator, but it should be. You may have seen the headlines, but have not taken the time to dive into the era we are coming to. At this point, drones (usually flying autonomously) and droids (usually driving autonomously) are not a huge threat or opportunity simply because the FAA has not approved their commercial use. This does not mean however you should look the other way. This technology, at least, is here to stay. It should absolutely be on your horizon, and the plan should begin to formulate at one point as to how you will be delivering product from your retail stores to the consumers within a 15–20 minute radius of your store. If you think about it, the consumer is at home, making a purchase from your store. They decide its too cold out to go grab the product through BOPUS, so, provided the option to have it at their house within 1 hour is a compelling reason alone to complete the purchase even though they were planning to go grab it. Again, it comes down to convenience and cost savings for the consumer and this is certain to be one of the biggest drivers of new purchases in coming years, pending FAA approval.
What happens when you combine many of the above technologies? You get a connected store. the future of retail will be something like this. A consumer has a retail app, which recognizes the consumer as soon as they walk in the door via Bluetooth, and recognizes past purchases, current cart items, and preferences. As this consumer moves around the store, their preferences are taken into account through notifications like “This dress goes well with the recent cardigan you bought” which would then show the dress and exactly where to find it. Now, as the customer shops around, each item they pick off the shelf is instantly added to their cart, carried across all channels. Let’s say this customer wants to “try on” some items, they step in front of a smart mirror which sizes up the person, and virtually shows the series of items in their carts, on the person in front of the mirror. Cart items automatically show up on the mirror to designate the interest. Now, the customer needs a new size so they simply call over an assistant via the app to retrieve a new size. The assistant looks up, on their in-store app, whether it is in-store and brings it out. With the right products in tow, this consumer simply uses their fingerprint connected to an eWallet, and walks out the store, with RFID sensing the items have been paid. This experience may seem Farfetched but the company Farfetch is doing just this. Consumers will become used to this experience, and once they do, it will be too hard to compete if you aren’t offering something like this. The connected store is our vote for the best retail store idea. As a matter of fact, we are already working on a whole platform for the connected store directly within Epic Commerce. If this is something you aspire to deliver, reach out to a firstname.lastname@example.org.
This is by no means an exhaustive list of retail store ideas which will adapt the modern retail environment. It s however, meant to serve as a point of reference for the types of technologies available to make things happen. You should constantly have this stuff on your mind if you aim to succeed long term in retail. Without it, surely the consumer will take their business elsewhere.