Balancing Technology and Experience in the Store of the Future

In imagining the store of the future, it’s easy to get lost in the appeal of technology just over the horizon. And while being forward looking is important, it’s crucial to base any technological investments on improving customer experience and satisfaction. Without these values, the impact of any in-store tech investment will never reach its full potential. Here are a few characteristics to keep in mind when preparing your business to be the store of the future.

Priceless Personalization

These days, consumers have a lot of choice in where they spend their money. With this ever-increasing competition for shopper attention, it’s important to supply a top notch experience to complement quality products and differentiate your brand. Making a shopper feel like a VIP is a great way to set your business apart from the pack and build a base of potential repeat customers. The opportunity to connect with a customer on a human level is something that websites don’t have the luxury of capitalizing on. Make the most of this advantage by ensuring that customers are greeted promptly and receive insightful, attentive service from a knowledgeable store associate. Fostering a helpful culture among associates is key to crafting a personalized, engaging experience that customers will remember long after their purchase is made.
Timing, Timing, Timing
Timing is everything when it comes to winning the business of today’s busy consumer. Schedules fill up quickly with work, family, and social obligations, making it hard to set aside time for shopping in-store. Although this may seem like a disadvantage to most retailers, it is actually a great opportunity in which to bridge technological investment with personal shopping experiences. Utilizing appointment scheduling tools lets consumers take advantage of the small windows of availability in a day filled with errands and appointments. Shoppers can schedule an appointment when it is convenient for them and know they will be seen promptly, versus risking long waits that could derail a busy day. This also lets retailers prepare for their visit, pulling up past shopping history and other useful data to create a one of a kind shopping trip. The result? Customer understand you value their time, and it’s definitely appreciated.
Knowledge is Power
As previously stated, a capable associate is of utmost importance to a retail store. They are the lynchpin of any good experience. With this in mind, it’s important to make sure these crucial employees are empowered to do their best work. Training them to be attentive and considerate can only take you so far – they also need access to the technology they need to be successful. Putting technology like tablets or smartphones in the hands of well-trained employees will allow them to access the relevant data they need -- purchase history, consumer preferences and more – to deliver a top notch experience.  
As retail technology gradually shifts in-store and more retailers are testing new solutions and implementing proven ones, it’s important to ensure that these additions are ultimately serving the customer. Hasty, directionless purchase of solutions is certainly a fruitless endeavor. Retailers must be sure that any tech they build on has a clear vision for customer success.

Gary Ambrosino is the president and CEO of TimeTrade, a provider of an appointment driven personalization SaaS solution.

Editor’s Note: To learn more about the store of the future and how retailers can arm themselves to compete in tomorrow’s reality be sure to attend “The Store of the Future: Startups Transforming Bricks-And-Mortar Retail” session at the NRF’s Big Show 2017. The presentation will take place on Sunday, January 15, 1:15-1:55 pm and feature executives from Thursday Finest, ColorJar, Claire, ModaBox and more.

For more information on the 2017 Big Show be sure to check out RIS News’ preview guide here.
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