Fiona Cowlam of is marketing manager at Barron McCann, an independent IT service provider, specialising in secure installation and support of distributed IT systems.
Whether they know it or not, customers are always looking for a new, refreshing retail experience, and if there’s one place they expect to find it, it’s in a luxury retail store. From revolutionary technologies to live demonstrations, luxury stores often provide something that not only enhances the customer’s immediate experience, but makes them want to come back, time and time again.
This is well suited to the luxury superstores, but where does it leave the independent retailers?
By implementing technologies and tools usually associated with luxury powerhouses, independent retailers can too improve and refresh the retail experience, offering something new which in turn builds customer satisfaction and loyalty. There’s a reason why the customers are shopping in store and not online, but a retailer’s job is to make sure the experience is enough to make them want to return.
So where should retailers start?
With the rise of online shopping and the popularity of smartphones, it makes sense for brick-and-mortar stores to implement omni-channel resources into their daily operation. There are a growing number of in-store technologies that customers are able to interact with directly, and customers will expect to see new technologies emerging in stores.
Tech is evolving
Retailers are already using mobile technology in store as tools for both customers and staff, such as portable POS systems or as in-store kiosks for customers, and mobile payment systems, such as Apple Pay, are likely to become widely used throughout the high street.
Store apps have also already made their mark on the industry – such tools are useful for implementing loyalty schemes or offering customers greater information about their products, including through barcode scanners or augmented reality systems. Even click-and-collect services are a convenient bridge between online and offline retail which can be used to a greater extent by independent retailers.
Other more high-end, yet widely implementable, technologies are available to independent retailers too, such as Bluetooth mannequins, which allow customers to gather information about the mannequin’s outfit, where the items can be found in the store, and search for related items.
Make design a priority
Store design deserves vital attention from retailers, and the use of technology should be taken into account as part of this. Retailers can use technologies to track customer interests and how they move through the store – in turn, helping inform future store design and layouts, and see what is popular within the store and what isn’t.
Keep everything running like clockwork
Properly maintained IT systems are essential to customer satisfaction – a lack of fully operational services, such as broken tills or unavailable facilities, can easily put customers off and lose sales. A crucial factor with modern technologies is that every member of staff must be fully trained in using them; otherwise the risk of downtime will be much higher.
Is it all worth it?
The implementation of such technologies can help independent retailers tap into the luxury retail market – they are effectively able to make the customer experience more “luxury” by replicating others through the use of engaging and practical tools. Of course there are costs involved in order to implement such tools and technologies, but retailers should take time to consider the best options for their business on a long-term scale.