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TechBytes: Three ways mobile is transforming the store

The brick-and-mortar store is not dead, but the traditional physical shopping experience is largely on its way out.

A seamless physical shopping environment that retains the best aspects of brick-and-mortar (product immediacy, customer intimacy) while integrating the advantages of digital (information access, limitless assortment, instant checkout) is keeping stores relevant in 2019. Mobile technology is the ideal enabler of this new omnichannel store experience.

Here are three key ways mobile is transforming the store.

1. Scan and Go is a Go
One of the hot current brick-and-mortar trends is “scan and go” shopping, where customers simply scan items they want to buy, click a button to instantly pay with a preloaded credit or debit account, and walk out of the store. It is exemplified by the burgeoning Amazon Go cashierless c-store pilot.

However, Amazon Go, and similar pilots launched by other major retailers such as Sam’s Club, require extensive physical infrastructure including weight-activated sensors and video cameras. By providing customers a simple self-scanning app they download on their own smartphones, retailers can offer an equivalent scan and go shopping experience with no extra hardware costs.

2. Personal Service – with a Digital Twist
Not every customer walks into a store hoping to simply scan a few items and leave without any human interaction. Some shoppers, especially for higher-priced products such as furniture and electronics, want to speak with a knowledgeable store associate and ask detailed questions.

However, even the most well-informed employee will not be familiar with every aspect of every product. And not every employee will be well-informed. Mobile apps can provide associates with instant access to in-depth information on all the items a store sells. Employees could also be enabled to conduct quick mobile chat sessions with designated experts on particularly complex products. The personalization of a face-to-face customer interaction cannot be duplicated with digital technology, but it can be augmented and enhanced.

3. Save a Sale, Save a Customer
When a customer visits your store and the item they want is out of stock, in all likelihood they will leave. If you are lucky, they will come back. Lost sales, which create the kind of frustration and disappointment that can lead to lost customers, are a major issue for brick-and-mortar retailers.

Fortunately, retailers can use mobile technology to provide in-store customers with the same type of complete inventory access available to online shoppers. Mobile shopping apps can be linked to real-time inventory management systems and enable shoppers to search for items missing from store shelves.

If goods are in the back room, customers can request an associate to retrieve them at the tap of a button. If they are in another store or even in a distribution center, shoppers can execute a digital purchase and schedule home delivery or in-store pickup. Most importantly, the sale, and the customer, stay within the four walls of your store thanks to a little mobile intervention.
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