Technology – its ubiquitous presence and influence on day-to-day life cannot be questioned or understated. Its very nature compels us to re-evaluate the technique we use to perform simple pleasures like reading a book or listening to music.
Its impact on the world of retail is no different – however, the question important to retailers in general is, how best can technology be utilised to assist in driving new sales?
Technological advances in areas such as mobile devices, social networking, digital imaging and not forgetting the stalwart of the online world; eCommerce /Web have resulted in their inclusion as important components to Omni or Multi-Channel retailing. The question is, how can these components be incorporated to ensure they interrelate with, and complement one another, to provide customers with the ultimate and efficient shopping experience?
Once a retailer’s web or social networking site, such as, Facebook fan page or YouTube channel, has been built – what methods can retailers introduce to drive customers to their site(s) bearing in mind the notion of ‘build it and they will come’? If only it were that easy! The challenge, or opportunity, depending on your point of view, for omni or multi-channel retailers is how to utilise their respective channels to encourage ongoing sales or create new sales opportunities. One such method is to use digital receipts to engage with customers well after a sale has been completed.
Retailers like Glue for example, utilise a digital receipts solution, supplied by yReceipts. This enables them to create the next generational form of interaction with customers by completely tailoring the customer experience to their brand. The look and feel of the digital receipt, customer feedback and cross marketing promotional offers can all be customised to Glue's branding and marketing requirements.
The key here is using digital receipts as a new marketing channel or a medium. Retailers can enhance and enrich customers shopping experiences by pushing a traditional bricks and mortar customer to a retailer's online channel and/or social networking site with further offers, upsell suggestions and/or additional product information.
This is achieved by strategically placing marketing banners and links in and around the digital receipt – similar to a traditional web page. When clicked each banner and/or link can then reposition the customer to a new landing page with additional, relative content.
The added ability to tailor specific offers to consumers based on their behaviour and purchase habits enables retailers to deliver relevant marketing material of interest. It’s also a powerful mechanism for relevant behavioural communication, which is the key to a deeper engagement with customers - and hence the key to greater sales.
Another example of digital formats being utilised in retail operations, is Karen Millen Australia, who have disposed with traditional member/loyalty cards and opted for digital cards instead; complete with QR Codes (2D Barcodes) which when scanned, are translated into the customer's member number.
These digital cards are sent from Karen Millen’s Island Pacific point of sale application, in the form of an MMS, straight to the customer’s smart or mobile phone at the time the customer signs up to the membership program in-store. When the customer next visits a Karen Millen store, they produce their digital member card on their phone and the QR Code is scanned at the point of sale terminal, thereby registering that sale to the customer’s member number.
By disposing of traditional plastic cards, problems such as customers losing or forgetting cards are dramatically reduced, let’s face it how many loyalty cards can one wallet or purse hold?
In situations when new cards” need to be reissued, the administrational effort in replacing cards, such as creating a new member number, issuing a new card, transferring the old customer sales history to their new number etc, are all eliminated. After a few security checks, customer service can simply resend a new digital card, via a new MMS and the customer’s original member number is retained.
QR Codes can also be strategically placed within promotional material such as in store signage, swing tags, magazine or billboard advertisements, to guide customers to retailers’ websites, social networking pages or even their YouTube channels, in the same way as banners and links on digital receipts. This provide the customer with more visual and/or detailed information about the retailer’s brand or product which in turn helps promote a consistent look and feel, especially when it comes to brand recognition.
These are just some examples of how advancements in technology can be used for cross marketing purposes. These opportunities can improve and extend customers shopping experiences in addition to streamlining operations and making full use of all available retail channels.
At the end of the day, it’s all about providing that all import great customer service before, during and after the sale, irrespective of what retail channel the customer interacts with.
David Tyc is the sales and marketing manager for retail operations solutions provider Island Pacific.