Since the Coronavirus pandemic has forced the world to go into a forced lockdown, retail stores have been looking for new retail technologies and methods to upgrade their business models. And why not? Now that malls are opening and stores have resumed their operations, the biggest challenge for them is to attract customers.
Retail Sector: Is it Ready to Unlock?
Closing of malls and shops during the lockdown has been one of the instrumental factors why the retail sector has to bear heavy losses. Fashion, electronic and home decor retailers might be the worst hit as buyers shift their focus on essential food items.
As the nation readies itself to open up once again, buyers are still uncertain about how they can follow the contactless protocol and still shop for their desired products. And that too with the same ease and comfort as they enjoyed before the spread of this disease.
The possible answer to this dilemma is that the robust retailing technology in retail stores is required to ensure a safe comeback of customers.
How can Retail Stores Assure Customers of a Safe Environment
With the pandemic directing people’s behaviour, the retail sector can expect some drastic changes in consumer behaviour,driving long term changes in the retail industry itself.
Social distancing is the new norm. Retail stores have to make sure that they provide a sense of security to their customers without compromising on an amazing shopping experience. This can be done by not only introducing front end changes such as temperature checks, hand sanitizer stations and the abolition of checkout queue; but by adapting modern backend technologies used in retailing.
Below we list some of the best retailing technology that can be practised in stores to make touchless shopping a hassle-free experience.
Smart Retailing Technologies and Strategies to Make Offline Shopping Secure
Catalogue Retailing: One of the Latest Technologies in Retailing
During such times, the best way retailers can bring back customers is by building their trust and by providing them information about products. One of the best ways to do it is through sending an online catalogue to prospective buyers. The buyers would have a fair knowledge of products on sale before they physically visit the brick and mortar store.
Such digital retailing technology in retail stores will not only enhance the online shopping experience but also make them aware of the benefits of connecting with your retail store online. Retail stores can also use in-store technologies such as POS software which helps create an online catalogue for customers to pick any product online. Online POS software can create invoices online which then can be sent to the buyer over the email, SMS or WhatsApp.
One thing that retailers should take care while sending online catalogues to customers is that personalization is required. Even if you are broadcasting your catalogue, each buyer should get a feel that it has been made to suit their needs.
Touchless Payment through eWallet Facility
After receiving catalogues, the buyer might select their desired products and make the purchase. But this elaborate plan towards consumer safety will fail if the buyer does not have flexibility in payment options.
Even when buyers physically land to your retail store, they would be expecting a touchless shopping experience. This won’t be possible if there is no technology in retail stores to facilitate a cashless checkout.
This is where payment gateways come in. Payment gateways can be utilized by small and new businesses for secure payments between the customer and merchant sites without the fear of hacking or phishing by third party applications.
Payment gateways also support several payment methods such as credit card, debit card, netbanking, UPI, etc. By using such digital technology in stores, retailers can enforce social distancing and contactless shopping.
Touchless payment options are being put into use even by small scale retail stores, which use to only accept cash payments earlier. Such businesses have been able to engage with their loyal customer base without having to actually come in contact with them.
Reduced Rush at Checkout Counters with Scan & Pay Apps
In a pre-COVID era, the maximum rush in a retail store could be seen at checkout counters. As retail stores around the world promote touchless shopping, a major overhaul in retail solutions and technology is required to avoid checkout counter rush.
This can be achieved by enabling customers to use scan-pay-go apps. Such apps can be installed at dedicated payment counters where the buyer can choose the product, scan its barcode with their phone and then add the product in their cart. The amount would be deducted from the buyer’s account added in the app. They can then exit without having to wait to get billed at the counter and without the need to get in direct contact with hundreds of other shoppers.
Appointment Based Shopping Technologies Used in Retailing
Some of the more specific retail industries that have been feeling the heat are the ones dealing with wedding apparels, jewelleries, furniture, automobile, etc.
Many planned weddings have been put on hold and there has been a drastic drop in demand for jewelleries too. Usually people liked to come in a large group with family and purchase these commodities. But since that is a big no to the idea of spending hours in a store, there has been no uptrend in the footfall.
This can be solved by using retailing technology such as appointment scheduling apps. Top appointment scheduling apps let your customers check which time slots are open for them to shop and then book them accordingly.
During a booked slot, only that specific customer can enter and shop, thus upholding all social distancing and safety standards.
Such appointment scheduling apps can also be used by spas, online salon booking and hairdressers. Here customers will have the added advantage of choosing the service provider of their choice based on his/her availability.
Omnichannel Retailing: Time to Adopt New Technologies in Retailing
Lockdown has brought higher economic losses for retail chains that had dedicated their business only to their offline stores. At this time, when hardly any customer is stepping out to buy, it becomes imperative that such retail chains make use of in store technology and magnify their online presence.Such a step can be easily achieved by using an Ecommerce website builder.
Ecommerce website builders take small businesses online without them having to spend much resources. Getting your ecommerce website built helps you to tap onto previously unexplored territories and expand your customer base. It also ensuresbetter order management and logistics, improved security solutions and integration with payment gateways.
Since covid-19 has forced retailers across the world to change their functioning, this is the right time to take your business online, if you don’t have one till now. More customers would be opting for their safety and placing orders online rather than physically turning up at offline stores. Hence, use of online retailing technology in retail stores can better regulate the flow of funds.
Touchless Visitor Screening & Thermal Screening
Before retailers across the nation open their offline stores to people, it is important that they set up such digital technologies in retail stores. It is critical to ensure that the visitors coming to yourstore are not the asymptomatic carriers of the virus and they do not contaminate the surfaces inside your retail shop. This can be achieved with the latest retailing technologies such as visitor management systems.
Visitor management systems help retailers keep a track of customers entering their premises and monitor their movement once inside. Additionally, you must also provide for thermal scanning facilities at the entry so that a person with high body temperature is not permitted to enter the facility.
A visitor management system has additional benefits including self check in, pre-registration, host notification and multi-language support.
Let’s Gear Up for The Latest technologies in Retailing
The impact of coronavirus was unforeseen by most and has caught the retail industry off guard. The future would be a different ball game altogether as buyers opt for a touchless shopping experience and retail stores have to adapt quickly. Fortunately, this can be done by using some simple retailing technology and in store technologies. These ensure that shoppers don’t have to physically touch an object or come in proximity of a person while buying or paying. At the same time, through such retail solutions and technologies, businesses can provide the same degree of user experience as in the pre-COVID era.