With Marks & Spencer, Tesco and Morrisons all posting second-rate Christmas trading results, the general consensus is that supermarkets and other traditional traders need to do more than slash prices to get customers spending in- store. However, online divisions of the major supermarkets reported a Christmas online sales surge which highlights the need for bricks and mortar operations to do far more to attract shoppers into stores.
Dan Wagner, Chief Executive of mobile payment firm Powa Technologies is resolute that stores need to innovate and use technology to capture more market share.
“The shopper’s experience hasn’t really changed significantly for the last 50 years. Stores need urgent and radical change to compete in the new shopping paradigm. They should be deploying a range of new techniques and technologies to improve engagement with their customers,” he said.
“Smartphones are reshaping the way in which consumers are interacting with retailers, for example, low-energy Bluetooth beacons can be strategically placed around stores, messaging shoppers as they approach special offers. This sort of approach makes the shopping more of an interactive, personalised experience. The technology also has the additional bonus of adding value by retaining valuable data about shopping behaviour.”
Wagner says in-store customer service is set to become more sophisticated in the future.
“When a staff member serves a customer, the IT systems they are using need to be able to bring up the individual customer’s engagement record and do things like automatically flag if the customer has ordered something online that they could be collecting from the store. The shop worker, even if it’s their first day at work, has all the information they need to assist the customer as far as they possibly can with the opportunity to extend engagement and in any number of ways.
“This concept, known as clientelling, is one of the ways physical shops can offer something more to the customer.”