Black Friday is upon us as shoppers start flocking to stores to get a head start on their Holiday gift buying. This is the busiest time of year for retailers, and it can make the difference between a good and bad year.
That’s why retailers do a lot of planning for the last few weeks of the year, hiring extra staff and managing inventory to meet increased demand. Technology plays a bigger and bigger role in preparing for the Black Friday rush and the rest of the shopping season.
New Internet of Things (IoT) applications, analytics, edge computing and advancements such as augmented reality (AR) are helping retailers make the shopping experience more gratifying than ever. These technologies make it possible to deliver a personalized shopping experience that helps to keep customers coming back.
Retailers have never had better opportunities to get to know their customers. Intelligent analytics systems that keep track of shoppers’ purchases, preferences and habits provide useful information about how to better target consumers with promotions and improve the overall shopping experience.
As retailers embark on omnichannel strategies to reach customers through online, social media and mobile channels in addition to brick-and-mortar stores, they need to hone their message to keep customers engaged. To do that, they need information such as knowing how much time a customer spends viewing an item online or in store, or whether someone would rather receive coupons by text than email.
These are the type of crucial details that can be turned into personalized experiences such as texting a coupon for a pair of shoes that someone has spent some time viewing online – or perhaps providing additional information and advice about an item that interests a shopper.
Retailers that successfully deliver personalized experiences create the perception they understand and care about their customers’ needs.
Front to Back Improvements
Analytics play a big role in reshaping the customer experience, but other technologies such as AR, mobile point of sale (mPOS) and infrared heat maps also are having a major impact – both on the shopping floor and in the backroom.
For instance, retailers are starting to outfit smart fitting rooms with AR mirrors that let shoppers see themselves in different garments without physically trying them on. mPOS systems with tablets or smartphones allow customers to complete transactions anywhere on the shopping floor as opposed to having to wait in line for checkout. Some retailers are deploying beacon technology that generates heat maps showing in-store traffic patterns to help with store layout.
In the backroom, IoT-enabled technology, such as RFID and data visualization, is helping improve inventory accuracy across the supply chain. Automated inventory management systems can reorder items without human input before they run out– an especially useful capability at busy times such as the Holiday shopping season.
Much of the improvements at retail locations, whether in the front or back of stores, will be possible with the deployment of edge computing sites that keep computing power and analytics closer to the “things” and people who use them. The sites will house infrastructure and applications to enable real-time processing without the lag that might otherwise occur if the data had to travel back and forth to the cloud.
Don’t Miss a Beat
IoT, edge computing and other emerging technologies are allowing retailers to handle the Holiday rush without missing a beat. As retailers hone their processes, they will create a better experience for shoppers than has ever been possible. Click here to learn more about edge computing solutions to ensure Certainty in a Connected World.