Congratulations, retailers – you survived the kick-off to the holiday shopping season! But how did your Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday and/or open-on-Thanksgiving sales fare? While there are plenty of busy shopping days left until 2017 (in fact, as Retail Dive points out, the biggest days of the year may be yet to come), take a moment to reflect on what went right – and what you may have been able to do better – on one of the busiest North American shopping weekends of the year.
A key step in the right direction is driving omnichannel experiences for your consumers – that is, implementing solutions that enable consumers to hop from channel to channel, i.e. from mobile to in-store shopping. There are many ways to take that first step. Here are six to consider:
- Be open to change.
This one costs nothing! But it’s vitally important. You may think you have a very good reason for avoiding digital upgrades. Perhaps you have just one store, or a very small network. Or you’re located in a rural area. Or you don’t think your consumers care about having digital options. Whatever the reasoning, the fact of the matter is that we live in a digital era, and smartphones are pervasive. If you’re not harnessing the power of digital modes of communicating with your consumers, you are missing out. Period.
- Carefully consider your individual needs.
Having made those strong statements above, I do believe there are very few “one size fits all” solutions. When we work with customers, we’re collaborating with them on their unique journey, and we tailor solutions that make sense for their unique needs. Independent retailer solutions will look very different from those of a large, international retailer. Queue management might be a priority for a grocery store, while navigation is a higher priority at a large department store. The value of an objective, expert perspective like that of Diebold Nixdorf is that we can quickly identify processes and provide recommendations ranging from store design, process consulting, software architecture, new application integration, new hardware and more.
- Empower your employees.
We are living in the golden era of the consumer – they’re smart, they have access to the entire internet in their pocket, and they expect excellent service, no matter the channel they choose to make their purchase. In a brick-and-mortar store, your employees can make all the difference in the consumer experience – for better or for worse. Skilled, fast customer service can be a major differentiator for your network. Well-informed employees give your consumers the feeling of being in good hands, and can help consumers make decisions that inform not only the current shopping trip, but future ones as well. Putting mobile devices in the hands of your employees can empower them to create a seamless consumer experience that includes accessing stock levels, online information about products, product info through barcode scanning, inter-store coordination with other employees, task assignment, even mobile checkout.
- Offer complete digital access in-store.
Do all you can to ensure that your brick-and-mortar locations are fully wi-fi enabled, and that wi-fi is free and easily accessible to consumers. Perhaps it even makes sense for your store to offer a mobile terminal that allows them to access your store’s website. You want to make sure they can research potential purchases, snag last-minute coupons, use their mobile wallet or cashless checkout, or just kill time while waiting for their friends or family to do their shopping.
- Analyze real-time foot-traffic in your stores.
Peak times are obviously very busy – and some areas of your store are likely busier than others. Real-time data analysis is an exciting tool that can help you evaluate critical needs and alert employees immediately when they’re needed in certain areas. Over the long term, you can also gain a better understanding of the most popular areas of your store, and staff accordingly.
- Build your infrastructure one step at a time.
There is a lot of new technology out there, and it can definitely be overwhelming to decide what to do first. Working with our seasoned experts is one way to set your store on the right path, but the most important thing to keep in mind is that you don’t need to do everything all at once. You must, as they say, eat the elephant one bite at a time. Infrastructure upgrades should be a primary focus in your short- and long-term plans, including things like an integrated service platform that melds mobile devices with checkout.
Whatever your goals and priorities, there are many ways to accomplish them, and the right partner can help you get there. Two final parting thoughts: According to the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) …
- 80% of consumers who own a smartphone will use it during their in-store shopping trips this holiday season.
- A whopping 90% of us plan to research purchases online before heading to a store to shop.
Mobile matters more than ever. Make it work for you – don’t let another busy holiday shopping season pass without implementing upgrades that could make the difference between a Black Friday and a red line on your balance sheets. Let’s start a conversation today.