New Tech Helps Retailers Deliver Personalized Service

For a while there it looked like online shopping was going to spell the end of bricks-and-mortar retail. And although Amazon is still selling like crazy and big box stores are succumbing to showrooming, there’s never been a more exciting time in the retail world. New technologies like interactive displays and shopper tracking allow a depth of engagement and personalization that’s impossible online, preserving the core human aspect of ‘real retail’ that makes in-person customer service so important. Below are some new tools retailers (and shoppers) can use to make the customer service experience exceptional.
Even before setting foot in a store there are ways personalize your shopping experience. By submitting your information prior to a visit, you can help the customer representatives help you find exactly what you want, and get recommendations tailored just for you. Although online-only, Modcloth is a service that give customers one-on-one fashion advice based on past purchases and preferences. Physical retailers could easily adopt a similar model where via app or social login users submit their preferences and details, so when they arrive a tailored experience is ready and waiting for them, as if they were a regular. Imagine being greeted in your favorite store by name, with a selection of items just for you to browse (likely with a special discount) just for volunteering some information!
The possibilities expand when geolocation and social mentions are thrown into the mix. Using shoppers' public social media posts and publicly shared information data, retailers can target consumers who are near a store with context-relevant discounts and coupons. Fashion shopping app Snapette alerts users to specific items (shoes and bags for example) nearby, and companies can send them targeted information based on their preferences. For example, if you took a photo of some shoes you liked and tagged the brand, a shoe store having a sale could send you a message offering that exact pair at their discounted price. It’s a win-win.
Alternatively, let’s say a shopper didn’t plan ahead on going to a particular store, but is a regular, loyal customer. The retailer who has an idea of what the customer likes from their purchase history and social activity can anticipate exactly what the customer wants, and provide it when they signal for it. Fashion retailer Burberry is in the process of rolling out an always-on tracking feature called Customer 360 that monitors where a shopper has made purchases or mentions of the brand through Twitter. Service associates will have the right information to tailor their service specifically to customers’ preferences, while being mindful of their perspective about the brand and specific products they like. Creating such a customized in-store experience increases the chance of a sale and enhances the sense of value for the consumer.
Besides preempting customers’ needs (which requires people to share information, something not everyone is comfortable with), businesses can use other new technologies to enhance the retail experience. How? With robots, of course.
Remember Rosie from the Jetsons? While these don’t have the same capability for sarcasm as Rosie, the FURO-K robots from Japan are pretty advanced and can act as information kiosks, points of sale, ad displays and dance partners. While the developers would need to figure out how to make sure they don’t get in the way, such robots rolling around a retail space could help evenly distribute information access and checkouts, to prevent crowding around any particular area. Others can track the location of every item in the store, fetching products for customers without having to look for them, even if they’ve been moved by other customers. It seems the main capabilities that customer service robots would need are environmental detection and awareness, and a up-to-date database of actual inventory.
Between apps personalizing product selection and robots decentralizing retail functions, it looks like the in-store retail experience will just keep getting better and better. The catch is that customers will have to provide personal information in order to reap many of the rewards. While some have an issue with doing this, even if it’s just their purchase history and name, 40% of consumers say they prefer buying from retailers that cater to their preferences. Additionally, the generational shift towards younger shoppers who are used to sharing should support increasingly personalized shopping experiences that brands are ever eager to embrace just to get people in the door.

By Nestor Bailly
Source:
http://iq.intel.com/#iq/29868912/new-tech-helps-retailers-deliver-personalized-service

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