Enterprises and business clients are usually the groups that adopt the newest technology. The latest and greatest systems are leveraged by companies in a variety of sectors for improved sales, reduced operating expenses, boosting employee engagement and productivity, and a host of other uses. However, retailers are joining these organizations and are more often employing new technology to enhance customer experiences and improve their brand’s overall position.
Online offerings and connected devices
One trend that experts predict will permeate the retail sector is the increasing presence of connectivity offerings. This mode can encompass a wide range of capabilities, including making special deals available online, or using smartphone applications and data as a means to improve customer service.
One example of the connectivity trend in retail is a recent campaign by Starbucks, which allowed customers to purchase their coffee through Twitter. This offering generated $180,000 in sales in the U.S. alone, showcasing the innovations that connectivity can bring to the sector.
Experts also predicted that stores will increasingly rely on the capabilities of smartphones and other connected technologies. For example, last year Apple launched iBeacon, an application that enables retailers to track customers in-store and provide targeted advertising, deals and other offerings depending on their location, or what they are seeking.
“The long-held dream of being able to target shoppers in real-time, with relevant and personalized, location-based offers took a big step forward in 2013,” stated Rakuten CMO and COO Bernard Luthi. “There has been much excitement about the prospect of hyper-targeting shoppers on the go and in 2014 retailers will begin to take this proposition more seriously.”
Targeting customers via their mobile devices will create increasing need for data security. To ensure that shoppers’ sensitive data, including location-based information, doesn’t fall into the wrong hands, stores should protect their systems with Deep Freeze. This solution can safeguard servers as well as workstations that store or connect with customer devices and personal information.
Big data gives way to analytics
The vast majority of markets have embraced the use of big data, however retailers are in a unique position to leverage the incredible amounts of information at their fingertips. During the next few months, a number of stores will gather big data from shopping history, social media, and a range of other origins and analyze this information for dynamic pricing models. This will create the best deals for the customer, as well as the most value for the retailer.
“Digital pricing in store will take flight both in-store and online,” wrote Retail Info Systems News contributor Justin Honaman. “Big data capabilities will enable dynamic pricing in a real-time, customized manner versus based on historical sales trends or latent POS data trends.”
Although in order for retailers to properly take advantage of this trend, they will again need to ensure that their internal systems are protected. A layered security approach should be utilized to fully safeguard these vast archives of customer information, including Deep Freeze solutions. This strategy can guarantee the safety of sensitive data, as it prevents losses in the event of a breach.
Entertainment to engage customers and boost sales
Another trend to keep an eye out for is the use of entertainment, such as games or events, to boost business. This can include increased multimedia offerings, in-store or online contests and rewards programs like points for store credit. This presents a necessary shift in the retail sector, as customers demand more from stores than simply trading their money for items.
“Retailers recognize that shoppers are no longer satisfied by the vending machine model of the last decade,” according to Luthi. “They want to be entertained and informed as they browse the Web and make purchasing decisions.”