Disruptive Retail Technology – causing a commotion
Technology changes the way we work, communicate and interact with each other, but the use of technology in retail is disrupting the whole sector. Advancements in retail technology have seen considerable improvements in the customer experience but what’s the real benefit?
The customer journey, no matter the channel, is a 360-degree experience of the brand. Disruptive Retail Technology pulls together every avenue to market taken by the customer. The customer benefits by having all historical shopping data and preferences in one central location and are notified of offers, deals or new product lines via a personalised account. The brand and store associate benefit by having access to the same customer information via Keytree In-store Technology (KIT), which empowers the store associate with instant access to stock, inventory and customer preferences.
KIT is a prime example of how retail technology is pushing the envelope when it comes to providing customers with a fully rounded shopping experience but how will technology impact the retail sector – what will change?
The man-machine – the rise of the robots
Folding sweaters, opening and closing the store, checking out customers and being the brand expert have traditionally been the responsibility of the store associate. But for how much longer? Stores are already testing, and in some cases using robots, which can carry out and execute some of the more traditional in-store tasks. There’s no concern around manoeuvrability as sensors embedded in robots will ensure they avoid bumping into customers.
Robots can relieve the store associate of specific tasks and if a customer has a question the robot is unable to answer – they start a live video conferencing session with an operative who can assist. The human element will always be required at some point in the customer journey, but maybe the use of robot technology in retail will free up valuable time for the store associate to spend more time with the customer.
The future of the store
KIT acts as the conduit connecting hardware, sensors, POS systems, Wi-Fi access points, and RFID networks and also leverages iBeacon and Bluetooth technologies to identify nearby customers.
The store of the future will not only identify a customer upon entry – Beacons will bridge the physical and online experience and push content to your device when walking down a particular aisle. Once an item is chosen there will be no need to search for a changing room – smart mirrors will superimpose the item onto the customer. There is no need to undress, or even worry about the product being in stock as the smart mirror can superimpose any object onto the customer.
An auto checkout will enhance the shopping experience even further. The store knows you have arrived, notifications are pointing you to the part of the store you’ll visit next and all the while – there’s no need to stand in line and pay for the items gathered. Walk out of the store and the items are scanned and charged to your account.
The increased use of technology in retail will provide obvious benefits for the customer, but for the brand, a superior level of data is now gathered on a daily basis, which will give the store associate a much-needed advantage over competitors – and inform future strategies for the organisation.
Disruptive Retail Technology will see the customer journey and experience altered in many ways. Although technology becomes more commonplace it can never provide the genuinely personal touch, which will always come from human interaction.
Keytree In-store Technology (KIT) is now available on the SAP App Centre – the digital marketplace where customers can discover, buy and manage access to innovations across all SAP lines of business and platform groups.
The announcement was made at Sapphire 2018 in The SAP Gold Guide report, which outlines the SAP Customer Experience vision and strategy featuring a selection of case studies, which includes a profile of KIT.
The SAP App Centre has 1,500 enterprise-class apps from 1,000 SAP partners, providing customers with real-time access to innovative solutions, microservices and plugins to extend their SAP solutions and help digitally transform their business.
Maximising your investment
SAP customers can maximise their investments in SAP solutions and address their most demanding business challenges with a mix of free and paid partner Apps – all designed to help their business. They can take advantage of seamless integration into their existing landscapes and gain immediate access to their apps from a launchpad that is enabled with Single Sign-On. With streamlined procurement, designed for the enterprise, customers can manage the entire lifecycle of their purchases, from license acquisition to user management and renewals, simply and centrally.
The SAP App Centre simplifies the enterprise procurement process by bringing it into a digital form-factor. Customers can buy application licenses directly from SAP partners, with the flexibility to negotiate and receive the best price, including support for custom terms and conditions. They can then centrally manage multiple application subscriptions, billing and vendor communications in a unified experience.
Customers have a choice to either receive and pay invoices using SAP Ariba Pay or credit cards, or they can choose to settle outside of the system. SAP App Centre supports roles- based, workflow-driven orders, and also includes support for multiple currencies and application usage analytics.
Purchasing KIT through The SAP App Centre
KIT provides a complete omni-channel view of customer activity, allowing store associates immediate access to customer needs, preferences and purchasing history.
Speaking at Sapphire 2018, Adrian Slater, Head of Retail at Keytree explained that KIT connects store associates with customers. He said: “When a customer walks into the store, the sales associate can bring up all their previous info, look at all the available products on the app, without having to leave the customer’s side – the storeroom can bring out the products.”
KIT is built using machine learning and speech and image recognition. The app connects hardware, sensors, POS systems, Wi-Fi access points, RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) networks, iBeacon and Bluetooth technologies to identify nearby customers (integrating loyalty apps and Apple Passbook).
Features include Style Builder, which groups products so a customer can see how they might fit together, and tech that allows the sales associate to push content to a nearby TV screen. The app also enables the store associate to communicate via SMS, WhatsApp, WeChat and wider social media channels during and after the transaction. KIT also fits into existing technology sitting on top of a retailer’s SAP Customer Experience technology and easily integrates with back-end systems without the need for new, expensive software
The KIT dashboard allows the user to manage tasks centrally, creating, editing and managing tasks, calendars, team meetings and client appointments directly from the app.
Designed in collaboration with SAP and Apple, KIT sits on SAP Cloud Platform and integrates directly with the SAP for Retail solutions.
Around 10 percent of in-store sales are lost because an item is not in stock. If we consider this with how customers review product ranges online, expecting to see and purchase these items when they arrive at the store, then we have the key drivers for an endless aisle. Customers still enjoy the personalised support available that they experience in stores and enjoy the freedom to touch and explore before deciding to purchase a product.
Retailers continue to rethink and reinvent the shopping experience and offering an endless aisle gives the physical store a much better chance to avoid lost sales. Keytree In-store Technology (KIT) gives the store associate access to the store catalogue, the full inventory of the brand and provides the customer with real-time access to products. However, the capabilities of endless aisle do require a full integration of the right technology and processes.
There are various challenges that retailers face when setting up an endless aisle functionality. These are as follows:
- Keep your inventory up-to-date in real time knowing when and where the stock is available, otherwise you will not be able to order the item that the customer demands with any confidence.
- The inventory can change constantly across your multiple channels, i.e. the online store, the physical store or placed orders with dropship suppliers.
- Knowing how much stock you have to hand, which means that key systems are integrated with each other, so that inventory levels are constantly updated with each sale and you always know what stock is available at any given time.
Keytree In-store Technology can be integrated seamlessly with systems such as SAP CAR to provide a comprehensive endless aisles experience for your store, making sure the customer never leaves wanting – as customers can continue to browse products online while in the store but with the full support of the store associate. Items available online, including any offers can be redeemed, and if the product is available to view or try on in the store, the store associate can use KIT to locate accordingly – regardless of the location.
Enhancing the customer experience with more choice
An endless aisle of products will ensure the store associate is no longer restricted to the in-store inventory and gives shoppers access to a range of products that are always available.
If a customer wants an item in a particular size and colour, but the item is not available in the store, this potentially is a sales opportunity that could be lost to online competition. An endless aisle will combat the possibility of losing out to another store or website by allowing the store associate to show the customer the requested item online. The customer can then decide on whether they want the item delivered to the store or conveniently to their home address.
Providing the store associate with instant access to the product catalogue and current, real-time stock inventory, allows the store associate to share an endless aisle of items with the customer. Making available online what you are unable to get in-store, hands the impetuous to the store associate and with the right technology, empowers the store associate to offer alternatives and suggestions to guarantee the customers gets the item they came to buy in store.
How physical and digital retail experiences can successfully converge in the hands of the store associate
As retailers continue to modernise and invest in the in-store experience the world of online retail is now recognised as an integral part of the bricks and mortar experience, a synchronisation referred to as retail convergence. Although lavish fittings and interior design are still key components of high end fashion retail it all starts with the store associate. This role is at the very beginning of the transformational journey.
In the past, and even today inside some retailers, the store associate had little insight into their customer’s needs, tastes and habits. Customer information was held in distant CRM systems or fragmented among multiple sources and only accessible to those who often did not have direct contact with the customer. Without quick and easy access to this data, it was next to impossible for the store associate to track buying patterns & preferences and therefore provide an in-store experience that encouraged and nurtured customer loyalty long term.
Invest in the store associate
By giving the store associate real-time access to stockroom inventory, the ability to jump the checkout queue and continuous communication with the customer – retailers not only bring the online world into the physical store but also give store associates a new toolset that will dramatically transform and improve their working day.
The store associate should be more than a person who replenishes stock or directs a customer to the nearest checkout. For example with the right technology such as a Lookbook app, they can engage with customers even when they are physically not in the store by creating engaging content based on a customer’s interests, which they can then share via email or text.
The store associate can build trust within the brand – they can know when a registered customer has entered the store, allowing them to meet and greet before showing them a new item, which is of registered interest in their 360-degree customer profile.
Digital Retail Convergence
Keytree In-store Technology (KIT) can bring this converging digital experience into the store so the associate and customer get the best of both worlds – it’s important to remember that the success of the new generation in-store experience should fall firmly onto the shoulders of the store associate. Without the dedication of these individuals, working face to face with customers on the shop floor, none of these remarkable technological breakthroughs will have the much-needed impact on the customer’s in-store experience.
Retailers should not underestimate the role of the store associate as they go through any transformational process. They are the key element that gives customers access to everything that online should offer while in the store. The store associate is the face of the business and is the font of all knowledge as everything that’s worth knowing is in the palm of their hand in one easy to use application, which is linking together the best of both worlds.
Lookbook, Omni-channel baskets, Inventory and mobile payments will become more commonplace in the retail sector, due to the influx of Clienteling software – aimed at enhancing the customer journey to provide the ultimate Omni-channel shopping experience.
Keytree In-store Technology can bring together retail convergence into the new generation of digital stores – it’s important to remember that the success of the next generation store requires this forward-thinking technology to grow and enhance the new experience. However, there’s no point in merely handing over new technology to the store associate and expecting instant success – training, product updates with research and development are essential. The technology also needs to be easy to use, so it doesn’t become a hindrance, and the data must be accurate – so the solution can be trusted.
Luxury retailers are expected to continually innovate in-store and improve the customer experience to remain competitive in a highly competitive market place – providing every customer with the desired in-store shopping experience, increasing brand loyalty, customer retention and most importantly sales. For high-end high street fashion houses it is also fundamental to create a shopping experience that is a satisfying representation of the brand itself.
The answer to many of these challenges lies in retail solutions such as Keytree In-store Technology and its modules such as the Digital Black Book. By taking the latest technology available and combining it with unparalleled innovation, driven by market forces, we have developed the toolset required by the store associate to enhance the shopping experience in luxury retail, driving sales across the product line.
Everything in one place – a centralised solution
The Keytree In-store Technology (KIT) team considers the creative use of technology and the user as the driving force behind the product – a product that has been successfully deployed in prestigious luxury fashion houses and used daily by store associates across the globe.
Our range of modules covers Catalogue, Customer Engagement, the Digital Black Book, Lookbook, Runner App, Customer App and oversees an organisation’s Omni-channel Inventory while managing Retail Productivity.
Our extensive research tells us that the product catalogue is the first point of reference for most customers, looking at what’s on offer. Although a brand’s website holds this information – the store associate needs this information in the palm of their hand so they can review one to one with the client. Our catalogue module provides this and more – it also gives shop floor staff the ability to check stock across all stores via any preferred method, including barcode scanning.
The store associate will collect a customer’s personal details and store directly in the application, so they can keep customers up to date with new product information, product lines or items that they may have been waiting to arrive in the store. Our state of the art, customer engagement module gives store associates the power to liaise with clients via their preferred method of communication – be it telephone, email or social channels. KIT can store behavioural data, so staff have a 360-degree real-time view of all previous purchases, interactions, notes and appointments – creating a Digital Black Book.
As the store associate is now communicating one to one with customers, KIT provides a ground-breaking approach to selling goods – by creating personalised style boards and looks based on the customer’s purchasing history and preferences. The suggested looks can then be sent directly to the customer via their choice of communication channel, or why not display the image on an in-store digital display, using Apple TV Broadcast capabilities the next time the customer visits the store.
KIT provides our clients with a customer centric tool that ensures the store associate never needs to leave the customer’s side. After viewing the product catalogue and once an item is selected, KIT will send a note directly to the store runner to retrieve the product from the stockroom and bring to the customer. If they want to try on the item, KIT will tap into the RFID network to locate a vacant changing room.
Keytree In-store Technology provides the store associate with access to inventory across multiple locations, in real-time. Having the ability to check stock and never failing to be in-stock with a product is an essential element in nurturing customer satisfaction and loyalty.
Our product roadmap will continue to learn, enhance and provide customers with the ultimate in-store experience but will also support store associates, helping manage all their tasks, appointments and events through each of their working days.
One summer evening in the late 90s – Rob Lewis, serial entrepreneur and founder of silicon.com gathered senior editors from the IT and business sector in the main hall at the Natural History Museum and made a bold announcement while throwing their publications in a dustbin. He predicted that magazines and newspapers would become a thing of the past – replaced by online news sites.
The dot-com boom of the 1990s carried many predictions and the group of editors from the publishing house who attended the above event has seen its 40 publications become reduced to three in less than 20 years. But other predictions have had a strange, unpredictable journey.
One of the biggest and boldest prophecies was the doomed high street. In the mid-90s, Jeff Bezos left the canyons of Wall Street and set up shop in Seattle where he created his online bookstore, which has since become the largest internet-based retailer in the world. The birth of Amazon was to many the first nail in the coffin for the physical store – or the newly coined phrase ‘bricks and mortar’. How could the high street compete with buying goods from the comfort of your front room – or at your desk during a lunch break?
Crossover physical digital experiences breathing new life into the highstreets
Fast forward 20 years and many big brands have disappeared from our high street, pulling down the shutters on 1,000s of stores. Despite the variety of channels now available to customers (the omni-channel approach), nine out of ten retail transactions still take place in the store, according to Deloitte’s 2014 research – The New Digital Divide.
It’s not all doom and gloom, and companies are starting to realise the value of having an outlet built of bricks. Amazon has gone full circle and in 2015 opened its first physical store and less than 12 months ago, IKEA announced it would be investing in the high street and opening smaller stores to compliment their 18 out of town facilities.
Focusing on the customer experience
The most valuable ingredient for improving the in-store experience is the knowledge base of the store associate – demonstrating a clear understanding of the product on sale as 40 percent of global shopper’s see this as the number one component of an enjoyable visit to the high street, according to the 2016 Total Retail Survey by PwC.
So by giving staff on the shop floor the ability to stay with the client while accessing inventory including detailed product information, it will instantly improve the in-store experience, but it doesn’t stop there. Having access to customer data will greatly inform decisions made by the store associate – such as understanding the client’s channel preference or the styles that match previous purchases, which will go a long way to ensuring customers return on a regular basis.
The Keytree In-store Technology (KIT) team has built and designed retail Clienteling solutions via thorough market research activities that continually feed into product development. Clienteling is the term applied to the store associate’s daily routine to establish relationships with customers based on preference, behaviour and purchase data.
KIT provides this vital 360-degree customer information which forms a core feature of the Clienteling app, one of various applications that Keytree provides for KIT customers.
The KIT team’s aim was to re-imagine the Clienteling experience for store associates, advisors, managers and customers alike ensuring the interactions are as fruitful as possible. Over the last two years, we have conducted workshops continually optimising our designs, inviting both clients and technology partners to engage in this collaborative process. KIT provides a Digital Black Book that helps advisors manage their daily tasks, along with product catalogue and stock visibility with an omni-channel basket and easy to use mobile payment capabilities.
In the world of retail, Clienteling software solutions are staking a claim as drivers of the primary strategy for ensuring store associates and their customers get the most from the omni-channel experience and ultimately help increase sales across the retail spectrum. Although online commerce has become the primary channel for many consumers, Keytree’s in-store Clienteling is revolutionising a continually evolving technology within the fast-moving digital landscape.
Customers expect a consistent digital experience, reflecting what they have in the comfort of their own home or on mobile but what KIT applications add is an enhanced personal touch, which they get from store associates but at a speed and efficiency that only recent accomplishments in the tech space can provide. The modern store associate needs to interact with the consumer beyond the boundaries of the physical store, and KIT retail solutions are becoming providers of this platform. Being able to communicate with and sell to customers without them visiting the store has immense sales benefits across all retail sectors.
Creating the ultimate shopping experience
It’s also important to breathe new life into the in-store experience via the mobile channel and not rely solely on an associate and traditional Point of Sale (POS). The NewStore Mobile Retail Report reviewed mobile websites, native apps and the in-store experience of 140 lifestyle, luxury and apparel brands. The findings show that only one in four store associates provided real-time inventory information while on the shop floor (via a device) and just 20 percent of those surveyed offer native shopping apps.
Software solutions such as KIT remedy these pain points, offering a selection of modules including a Catalogue, Runner App and customer Walkway App using the latest iOS AR technologies. We can ensure stock information is readily available, and items are instantly retrievable from the back of the store. Our Clienteling solutions will continue to develop and innovate to keep pace with the ever-changing needs of the customer.
Right now, ‘bricks and mortar’ still offer something that you cannot get online – the personal interaction between the customer and the brand. Using a Clienteling solution to amplify the experience is vital for business success and customer retention and will pull every channel together to create the ultimate omni-channel and customer experience.
E-commerce is a quick and easy way to purchase goods, but nine out of ten retail transactions take place in store and two-thirds of luxury consumers say they want to touch and feel a product before purchase – according to research from Deloitte and Google respectively.
Not everyone can work in a public-facing role, and fewer still have the gift of being able to meet customer needs – in a graceful and uncomplicated manner. An excellent store associate knows how to care for their clients and has a unique understanding of each client, gauging their interest through body language or by reacting to a comment.
Technology surrounds us. It can be used to drive cars, create virtual reality gaming, and it even allows you to turn on your heating while struggling home through the rush hour. In the utility market, smart meters use IoT technology to monitor and record consumption on an hourly basis, and GDS is entirely recreating governmental systems to meet user needs but what impact is technology having on the retail sector?
Before we look at what’s on offer we need to remember that not so long ago the industry was facing nothing but doom and gloom. In the ‘90s, the dot-com bubble brought us many new offerings including e-commerce. At the time, many thought the future of the high street was under threat predicting that ‘bricks and mortar’ was a thing of the past. The bubble burst and the stores are still firmly rooted in their foundations, but 20 years later, these same stores are on the verge of a technological revolution.
But the use of technology in the retail sector doesn’t need to create new ways of getting customers into the building as 94 per cent of retail transactions still take place in the store, according to Deloitte’s 2014 research – The New Digital Divide. The onus is on the customer journey and providing the highest level of service, combining all channels to create the ultimate omni-channel.
Giving store associate’s the tools to improve the customer experience
The role of the store associate should be more than pointing you towards the changing rooms or fetching a different colour sweater. It’s time for the retail sector to realise that there’s more a store associate can offer customers, and there’s an easier way for them to do their job – by deploying Keytree In-store Technology.
As the store associate is usually the first point of reference for any client and is also the face of the business, retailers should be providing these valuable employees with the tools that will help improve the customer experience by nurturing valuable customer relationships through digital. Keytree In-store Technology (KIT) provides the perfect tool for managing tasks in one centralised solution, and the KIT dashboard gives users the ability to create, edit and manage tasks, calendars, team meetings and client appointments – working directly from the app.
Online or in-store – KIT also provides a complete omni-channel view of customer activity giving store associates instant access to customer needs, preferences and purchasing history. By having all customer information in one place, store associates can view wish lists, in-process shopping carts, social media profiles and communication history for each and every registered customer.
This approach ensures the customer gets a more personalised service each and every time they come into the store and store associates can access the information needed and never to miss a sale. It’s time to combine online and in-store offerings and give store associates the power of today. So whether it’s identifying who’s entering the store or creating bespoke styles online to match a customer’s preference, the future of shopping lies in the palm of the store associates hand.