How Retailers Can Use Technology to Keep From Falling Behind

retail technology

In response to the ever-changing landscape of the retail industry, many large retailers are being forced to take drastic business measures. Companies like Macy’s, Walmart, Office Depot, Sears, and Barnes and Noble have already announced plans to greatly reduce their number of stores. Sports Authority, once the largest sporting goods retailer in the country, recently announced the closing of all its remaining stores this year. These closings don’t necessarily signal the end of brick-and-mortar retail, but serve as a warning to physical retailers who need to adopt instrumental practices in order to stay relevant. Unfortunately, for companies like Sports Authority the chance to evolve their in-store business may have come too late.

In a recent article, experts weighed in on what may have lead to Sports Authority’s downfall. Some speculate the company’s inability to keep up with their competition by providing an optimal in-store customer experience lead to their demise. They also made the point that certain competing retailers like Dick’s Sporting Goods who put effort into making their stores a shopping “experience” have fared better and managed to keep up with the changing tide.

Leveraging available technology is one way retailers can stay ahead of the curve as emphasis on the shopping experience becomes crucial for survival. Here are five advantages of having access to real-time visual access and analytic data in-store.

Identify and Address Layout Issues Promptly

A product display that drives strong revenue may receive a lot of attention one week and much less the following. This sudden pattern change may be due to the placement of new merchandise, which could redirect shopper attention. By relocating these items, merchandisers have the ability to refocus shoppers back on to high value items. Real-time insight into these changing patterns and their impact on store performance allows retail professionals to immediately address potential sales “road blocks.”

Up-to-the-minute Performance Monitoring

Retailers can access daily or weekly performance metrics of multiple stores at once, and act quickly to implement any necessary adjustments. For a store looking to increase its overall conversion rate, a real-time glance at their stores’ traffic and customer flow can provide vital insight. High volume traffic yielding low conversion may seem counterintuitive until visual context reveals that excessively crowded stores may be putting shoppers off due to long check-out times or poor customer service.

Product Placement and Store Layout Testing

Measuring the efficacy of a store’s signage, product displays, lighting, merchandise placement and promotions is essential to optimizing a store. What may seem like a simple change in placement could have a significant impact on store profitability.

Timely Staffing Optimization

Historically, retailers would hire and schedule associates’ shifts based on simple intuition and employee availability. Having fixed headcount in store during all business hours can generally cover sales needs; however, if at any time a store experiences a spike in traffic, inadequate staffing could result in loss in conversion. Real-time views into a store’s daily and weekly traffic flow helps retailers schedule their staff according to a specific store’s traffic patterns, which reduces labor costs while optimizing sales opportunities.

Live, Low-cost Auditing

Retailers have the ability to look into one store or multiple stores from anywhere in the world. By making sure that shelves are stocked, customers are being helped, and the store is always presentable, stores can forgo the expense of sending a district manager on-site.

In today’s retail market, unlimited options and the ability to quickly compare costs produces a highly informed consumer. Physical retailers need to stay ahead of their competition, and tools like Prism, can provide the insights and data to do so.

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