IoT-driven innovation can help lure shoppers back into the store.

3 Min Read
Close up of shoppers carrying bags

The news keeps telling us how the explosive growth of e-commerce and e-tailing has put a serious dent–or worse–into in-store retail sales. Iconic toy retailer Toys “R” Us recently shut its doors. Macy’s is closing 100 of its 728 stores. And American retail giants Sears and JC Penney, the mainstays of many suburban malls, are struggling to survive.

It’s true that many Americans, especially millennials, enjoy the convenience of browsing and purchasing without stepping foot in a store. And the explosive growth of mobile technology has made it easier to shop anywhere and anytime.

But there are other reasons why retail is losing in-store consumers. A report by Retail Dive found that retailers are understaffing their stores–and losing sales because of it. Lack of personnel has resulted in longer checkout lines, poor or no customer service, and other inefficiencies. Retail lost 71,000 jobs in 2017 alone, most notably in clothing, electronics and appliances, and general merchandise chains.

But retailers can stem the tide. Given that 64% of Americans say they prefer buying in-store to online, retailers need to look for ways to lure shoppers back into the store. Fortunately, IoT-driven technology innovations can go a long way toward improving the in-store experience as well as retail efficiencies.

A web-to-store strategy
With 90% of consumers now using their phones while shopping in stores, retailers have come to accept that rather than forcing customers to adopt a digital or brick-and-mortar approach to retail, they need a multichannel approach, also known by the acronym ROPO (research online, purchase offline).

Despite its growing popularity, online shopping has its drawbacks. Many consumers still want the experience of seeing, touching and testing out products in a store, and often need personal advice, which may not be readily available online. They also don’t want to pay for shipping and wait several days to receive purchases by mail. But they do like to do upfront research about a product online. So retailers can offer incentives online that can only be redeemed in-store.

Retailers can make the in-store discovery process more interesting and entertaining, as well. Interactive displays and self-serve kiosks can provide “live” multidimensional shopping experiences that allow shoppers to engage with brands at a deeper, more personal level and give retailers creative ways to provide more information about products and what it’s like to use them.

Digital signage also allows the retail environment to keep pace with the dynamic pricing and promotions found in online shopping. Pricing and promotional offers can be adjusted or removed quickly and efficiently through one content management system–made from either the corporate or store level. Interactive displays and self-serve kiosks are also an excellent way to collect shopper data and gain new insights to help retailers improve content and the customer experience.

Improving the checkout experience
Nothing deters an in-store purchase more than long lines at checkout. In fact, research has found that Americans will abandon a checkout line and leave a store without making a purchase after 8 minutes of waiting in a checkout line.

IoT now makes it possible for retailers to set up a system that reads the tag on each item a customer takes out of the store and then tallies them all up and automatically deducts the total cost from the customer’s mobile payment app. Not only will this save customers aggravation, it can save retail stores a lot of money. According to McKinsey, automated checkout can reduce cashier staff requirements by up to 75%–which could result in savings of up to $380 billion a year by 2025.

What about your retail customers?
Ingram Micro can help you assess your customers’ biggest in-store challenges and how to address them. Unlike other distributors, our approach to IoT is solutions oriented. We help our reseller partners address customers’ specific business problems and the outcomes they’re trying to achieve, and then figure out the right technology for them to implement. To learn how we can help you bring back your customers’ store traffic, contact us at [email protected].

This guest blog is part of a Channel Futures sponsorship.

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