5 Technologies To Boost Retail Business This Holiday Season
The holiday season has already arrived, but it will certainly look different this year. COVID-19 has impacted the way consumers purchase today, driving online sales as desires to shop in crowded stores or risk exposure diminish. Despite the uncertainty that continues to linger around the coronavirus pandemic, we’ll see people continuing to shop, celebrate, and buy gifts.
COVID-19’s Impact on Holiday Shopping
Digital Commerce 360 shows that the COVID-19 pandemic will lead to an additional $40 billion in online holiday revenue over November and December 2020. Pre-pandemic, this level of digital holiday shopping wasn’t expected to be reached for another four years.1
For the first time, more than a quarter of holiday sales will occur online in 2020. US consumers are expected to spend a collective 43.3% more with online retailers this holiday season, a total of $198.73 billion. That’s a 26.1% increase in web penetration, up from 19.2% in 2019.2
Along with this e-commerce shift, in-store sales are projected to decline by 3.7% year-over-year. Brands and retailers with brick-and-mortar locations can cope with this shift by offering options like buying online, pick up in-store and curbside pickup.3
Leveraging Technologies to Boost Profits
As shoppers have shifted to online channels as their shopping alternative, retailers need to adopt innovative technologies to improve the shopping experience and be available where customers want them to be. Here are five technological trends that will not only help the retail industry to survive the holiday season but thrive beyond it.
Integrating POS Software
POS integration can be an optimal solution during the holiday season with a spike in website traffic. This option centralizes your business management processes and makes your entire sales more efficient and effective.
Integrating POS software provides real-time crucial data and reports about sales. It automates time-consuming tasks, synchronizes data easing the billing process, and reduces errors in the sales process making employees, customers, and inventory management simpler.
AI and ML to Manage Customer Demand
Before the holiday rush hits, it’s essential to establish customer expectations around inventory levels. Where predicting customer demand can be challenging, AI and ML algorithms can help.
Big names like eBay and Amazon are already leveraging AI and ML across the entire sales cycle from storage logistics to post-sale customer service.4 It allows retailers to segment customers, perform personalized marketing actions, and optimize customer retailer relationship management. Taking measures based on predicted needs increases customer loyalty and retention rate.
Omni-channel outreach offers a modern approach to commerce to focus on designing a cohesive user experience for customers at every touchpoint. According to UC Today, 9 out of 10 consumers want an omni-channel experience with seamless service between communication methods.5 Emails, SMS texting, automated phone calls, social media provides customers with more transparency around their orders, delay, and updates regardless of where they are.
A study of 46,000 shoppers shows that omni-channel customers spend more money than single-channel customers as customers feel the control is in their hands.6 This can even help gain loyalty to keep customers coming back even after the holiday season.
Quick and Safe Checkout Options
With safety concerns paramount, retailers are introducing new protocols to avoid in-person interaction to make sure the customers, as well as the staff, are safe. A survey revealed that 87% of customers would likely choose stores with contactless or self-checkout options.7 This digital transformation includes tools having RFID tags, computer vision systems, machine learning, IoT devices, and facial recognition.
In fact, Amazon developed ‘Just Walk Out’8 technology that enables customers to simply enter their Amazon stores, shop around, and leave, eliminating checkout lines. Solutions like these offer retailers a way to to bring fast and convenient checkout experiences to more shoppers. This technology uses computer vision, sensor fusion, and IoT based systems.
Augmented Reality & Voice Commerce
It all starts with an IoT product like smart mirrors that engage with the customer through a voice assistant. Voice commerce technologies help customers purchase products or services using virtual assistants, smart speakers or, voice search and ease their shopping experience. Besides its convenience of use, it is 24/7 available, speeds up the buying process, and personalizes the buying experience for the customers.
The smart mirror uses augmented reality helping online stores to provide a deeper and realistic shopping experience to their customers. They can easily locate the right item, decide what looks good on them, and enrich their emotional relationship with the stores.
No second chance to make a first impression!
Though these five trends are essential for sustained success but even more so this holiday season. Millennials and Gen Z are used to shopping online, but this year almost everyone will do some bit of online shopping. This means new customers and opportunities to make impressions for a sustained relationship. To make a lasting first impression, it’s important to adopt the right technology and exceed customer expectations.
iLink has been working in technology for the past 18 years. Our experts understand well the challenges that modern businesses face. We help companies to leverage innovative technologies and grow effectively year-over-year.
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