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4 Ways E-Commerce Websites Are Reshaping How Stores Operate

Online retail has changed the way stores operate

Convenience, a personalized shopping experience and interactive marketing describe some of the typical features of an e-commerce website. But did you know that retailers can rework these online attributes to fit their brick-and-mortar stores, too?

An article on the Retail Dive website takes a look at how digital shopping features are changing the way stores operate. Here are four examples:

  1. Customer tracking: Just like e-commerce websites, physical stores have the technology to track the demographics of their in-store visitors. Italian mannequin maker Almax’s EyeSee uses “face-recognition software that can identify a shopper’s age, gender and race,” the article explains. After applying this technology, one clothing retailer found that 50 percent of the store’s afternoon visitors were children. 

    The whole premise here is to know your customers. As the article explains, if you know that children make up 50 percent of your afternoon visits, you can adjust merchandise accordingly and increase sales. Half of the battle is to know which customers will be where and at what time.

    For those that seek a simpler solution than face-recognizing mannequins, you could get started by having your POS cashiers capture simple demographics to associate with the sale, such as gender and age range. Once you have the demographics associated with sales, you should be able to mine the information for simple trends.  A step up from this would be to implement a loyalty program and associate the member of the loyalty program with the sale. To start with, you are at least gathering purchase information and buying habits with the member, and later you can find unique ways to capture the demographics of that member.

  2. Personalized product recommendation: E-commerce websites can recommend products based on a customer’s online shopping cart, and now radio frequency identification (RFID) enables physical stores to provide the same service. By detecting RFID in merchandise tags, store video monitors can promote specific products to customers based on the merchandise the customer is carrying. According to an Accenture survey conducted in 2012, half of U.S. retailers were employing RFID technology. This is part of going the extra mile with the customer and providing them with a great level of service that entices them to make a purchase.
  3. Encourage customer interaction through product reviews: Grocery chain Raley’s Family of Fine Stores rewards customers with exclusive access to new products when they share opinions and product recommendations. Providing rewards for reviewing products is a good method to get feedback and know customers better. Everyone likes to read product reviews, especially for higher-ticket items.
  4. Convenient access to product information: Mobile point-of-sale (POS) system have been touted as a convenient way for customers to complete transactions from anywhere in the store. Retailers can use the same technology to empower employees with product information and customer data at their fingertips. With mobile POS, if a retailer can identify the customer, a sales associate on the floor can immediately look up the customer’s purchase history. This allows a retailer to find clothing items that the customer regularly purchases in the correct size or style preference, for instance.

These four examples illustrate that brick-and-mortar retailers can provide a personalized, convenient and interactive shopping experience when they apply the same technology as e-commerce websites.

Source: Retail Dive, June 2013