How Tech is Helping Modern Retailers to Overcome Their Challenges

Right now, retailers across the world are facing many challenges. Some they have seen many times during living memory. Most of those issues retailers know how to overcome.

Other issues, for example, the lack of staff and regulations tightening at an extremely fast pace are proving to be more difficult to deal with. Fortunately, technology is providing answers for some of these newer and more difficult-to-overcome challenges. Here are a few examples:

Using tech to reduce queues

Numerous surveys and studies have shown that people don’t like queuing. This interesting article talks about a few of those studies.

Fortunately, there is technology out there that can reduce waiting times. For example, many supermarkets now have their customers wait to pay in a single queue. Software monitors when each till is about to become free then tells the customers at the front, via a screen, which checkout to go to. This approach saves both parties time and feels fairer, which reduces customer frustration.

Many stores are taking things a step further and using sensors to detect when the queue is getting too long. When that happens, an alert can be sent to a floating member of staff who can then open another till.

Better stock control

Preventing out of stocks is especially important. People hate going into a store and not being able to buy what they need. Not only does the retailer lose that sale, but they are also highly likely to lose that person´s custom, in the future. People tend to switch to another retailer if they experience out of stocks too often. Modern stock control systems that are linked to the Point-of-Sale units (tills) can be programmed to keep track of what has been sold and automatically order that item.

QR codes

For retailers, QR codes have many potential uses. They can play a role in stock control. But it is on the shop floor that they are the most useful.

QR codes are an uncomplicated way to share information with customers. Clothing chains are now having them included on price tags. People who scan the code using their smartphone can be taken to a webpage that provides them with more information. Including where it was made, what materials are used and care instructions. It also provides them with the option to order the item online should the store not have it available in their size. Or buy it for a friend and have it delivered to their address.

Using digital screens to engage customers more and save time

These days, the use of digital signage in a retail setting is commonplace. They provide a highly effective way to direct customers to do something. For example, they were deployed during CoVid to remind customers of social distancing, to wear a mask and cleanse their hands.

Plus, of course, they are highly effective marketing tools. Digital display screens are increasingly replacing posters and other forms of advertising.

But they have other uses, including helping retailers to cope when they cannot hire enough staff. Examples include:

· Restaurants and fast-food joints use touch screens in kiosks that enable customers to place their own orders. Meaning that fewer servers are needed.

· Supermarkets are deploying digital display screens equipped with chatbots and/or access to a central help desk as the first point of content when they have a question.

· Clothing retailers who also sell online, setting up touchscreen returns kiosks to enable customers to return items they do not want.

· Restaurants and retailers use digital screens behind the scenes to control workflow. The fact that a customer has arrived to pick up their shopping is sent via wi-fi to screens in the warehouse. Enabling staff to quickly bring that customer´s order to the serving counter.

Customers are benefiting from modern technology

Importantly, because these innovations greatly speed things up, customers like them too. They save them time.

Plus, the fact that the stores can operate with less staff goes some way to providing consumers with lower prices. Inflation is still leading to rises, but they are not as bad as they would be if retailers were not innovating and reducing their overheads.

There is no doubt that extensive use of technology is here to stay. In fact, in all likelihood, the pace at which it is deployed is likely to accelerate. It won’t be long before the public is shopping in stores that are almost 100% automated. Similar to the ones that you can find out about here.

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