As retailers face increasing competition and tighter profit margins, efficiency in omni-channel operations is becoming more critical than ever before. With the complexity of modern retail operations showing no signs of diminishing, retailers need to continuously add and connect new touchpoints and moving parts to meet the expectations of today's tech-savvy shoppers.
Unleashing a New Role for Brick-and-Mortar Stores
While physical stores still generate 83% of revenue, their role in omni-channel commerce is changing. Brick-and-mortar stores are becoming a hub for digitally connected customer journeys, requiring seamless and efficient integration with the rest of the omni-channel operations. To achieve this, retailers are focusing their innovation efforts on optimizing store operations, with 62% of retailers interviewed by IDC prioritizing this in the next two years.
In-store technology plays a crucial role in achieving these objectives. It helps retailers gain a deeper understanding of customers across the omni-channel journey, drive operational efficiencies, and optimize experiences. The digitalization of physical stores and their connection with the rest of the omni-channel operations generate a wealth of customer and operational data, which, if leveraged effectively, can significantly improve operations and customer journeys.
However, according to a recent IDC survey, 20% of retailers say the inability to gain insight from data is the main threat to their operational efficiency. Technologies such as virtual fitting, which combines artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), and computer vision to help shoppers identify the best fit, help retailers gather and analyze customer data to increase operational effectiveness and seamlessly connect online and offline shopping experiences.
In-store technology also helps store associates by advising them in real time on the best fit for the shopper, boosting service levels and customer satisfaction. According to recent IDC research, 38% of retailers are implementing digitally empowered store associate technologies to improve store operations and shopping experience.
Boosting Omni-Channel Experience through Technology
Retailers must strengthen omni-channel operations to increase profitability and achieve business outcomes. In-store technology is an essential tool for retailers to gain a deeper understanding of customers, drive operational efficiencies, and optimize experiences. By leveraging data and implementing digitally empowered store associate technologies, retailers can improve operational efficiency and offer seamless omni-channel customer experiences.
The Athlete's Foot is an example of a retailer that has improved omni-channel operations and customer journeys through in-store technology such as virtual fitting. The company, which operates both online and offline through 145 franchise stores in Australia and New Zealand, added virtual fitting to its in-store technology stack to gather customers' data and enhance the omni-channel customer journey. With the technology, store staff can provide more valuable, personalized customer service to shoppers buying shoes. The results are impressive, with more than 90% of shoppers that use virtual fitting making a purchase.
According to industry sources, retailers that adopted virtual fitting technology saw significant improvements in the efficiency of their omni-channel operations, with positive impacts on metrics including a 20% to 30% increase in sales and over 20% reduction in returns.
Leveraging Technology to Do More with Less: Five Key Actions to Consider
Here are some key takeaways on how retailers can improve their omni-channel efficiency using technology:
Embrace in-store technology to optimize experiences, drive operational efficiencies, and gain a deeper knowledge of customers across the omni-channel journey
Use virtual fitting technology to gather and analyze customer data, strengthen operations, and effectively connect online and offline shopping experiences
Implement digitally empowered store associate technologies to boost store operation efficiencies, such as real-time advising on the best fit for the shopper, which can improve service levels and customer satisfaction
Leverage the wealth of customer and operational data generated by the digitalization of the physical store and its connection with the rest of the omni-channel operations to gain insights and make data-driven decisions
Focus on optimizing store operations to ensure a seamless omni-channel customer experience in the store, from check-in to purchase to check-out, as the role of the physical store continues to evolve into a hub for digitally connected customer journeys
By adopting these strategies, retailers can achieve seamless omni-channel operations, increase profitability, and meet the expectations of increasingly demanding and technology-savvy shoppers.