Integrating Hardware and Software Solutions to Transform the Shopping Experience

Posted by Advanced Mobile Group on Aug 11, 2023 8:00:00 AM


Whether customers purchase online or from a physical store, shopping should be simple, intuitive, and enjoyable. Businesses are also looking for ways to streamline processes, reduce costs, and address other supply-side challenges. Here is how the integration of hardware and software solutions can achieve the goals of elevating the shopping experience and improving business results.

Common Pain Points for Today’s Consumers

In the customer’s mind, the brand and retailer are a single entity, regardless of the sales channel. Common pain points customers experience when shopping both online and in physical stores include:

  • Difficulty locating products
  • Out-of-stock items
  • Little to no product information
  • Lack of assistance 

In brick-and-mortar stores, there is the added challenge of long checkout lines, which can be frustrating for buyers who simply want to pay and leave. 

The Tech Transformation in Retail

Online sales grew significantly during the COVID-19 pandemic, primarily out of necessity. But they have continued to grow due to convenience and the ways the industry has transformed to align with consumer preferences. Instead of being the death of retail, many physical stores have seamlessly integrated their online and offline channels with smart solutions that facilitate more satisfying customer experiences. 

Digital technology, both hardware and software, has been the foundation of retail’s transformation over the past several years. Consumer habits are shifting to support options that are convenient, authentic, and personalized. To be more responsive to these trends, retailers are employing a variety of solutions. 

Integrating Hardware and Software Solutions to Transform the Shopping Experience

With increased competition in eCommerce and evolving consumer preferences, stores must do more than adjust prices or place ads to compete effectively. Delivering an exceptional shopping experience has become the most essential factor for stores in driving more traffic, increasing sales, and boosting repeat business. 

88% of consumers say their experience with a company is just as important as the products it sells. And three-quarters of customers admit they’ve switched brands over the past year. The best way to transform the shopping experience is by leveraging the right technology solutions. Here are five examples of ways retailers are accomplishing this by integrating hardware and software technologies:

1. Data and Personalization

image-Jul-30-2023-05-07-42-0185-PMAccording to a McKinsey study, 71% of consumers now expect personalization from brands, and 76% are unhappy when they don’t get it. But this is still something that is sorely lacking in the retail industry. That said, businesses that wish to provide personalized services have many opportunities to do so and reap the rewards. The same study revealed that stores that deliver a personalized shopping experience also benefit from up to 15% higher revenues. 

The only way to deliver personalization is through leveraging data. By collecting massive amounts of data about consumer preferences and behavior, a business can identify trends and optimize its processes. Having access to data and software solutions to make sense of it can allow a business to optimize inventory, predict customer demand, and create effective in-store and online strategies. 

Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning are increasingly being used to gain access to better customer insights. These tools are also useful for optimizing warehouse operations and supply chain management. 

2. Automation

Automation has become a vital part of many industries, including eCommerce and retail. For both, automation can manage inventory in real-time using a combination of RFID tags and software solutions, like a warehouse management system (WMS). This type of automation can improve the customer experience by eliminating stock-outs and reducing waste, which can lead to lower prices. 

Behind the scenes, automation can assist with order fulfillment for eCommerce brands. This allows orders to get processed faster and with fewer errors. Customers get the items they want quicker, and return rates will drop. 

Retailers are also using automation in the form of self-checkout kiosks, which can allow customers to skip long lines. These options can also reduce labor costs for many companies. This is a growing option that is already being offered by nearly 40% of grocery stores

3. Mobile

230815-integrating-hardware-and-software-solutions-to-transform-the-shopping-experience-1Today’s consumers increasingly use mobile devices to research and shop for products, whether they are at home or inside a retail store. Many sellers are developing dedicated mobile apps that can offer customers promotions, personalized recommendations, and even in-store guidance to improve the customer experience. Other uses for mobile include:

  • Enabling mobile payments at checkout or on the store floor
  • Using mobile or portable POS devices to offer flexibility and speed
  • Leveraging mobile technology in the warehouse to improve eCommerce order fulfillment

Mobile technology puts real-time data at your customer’s or employee’s fingertips, both of which can increase efficiency and improve the customer experience. 

4. Unified Commerce

One of the things many retailers and eCommerce sellers are doing is using hardware and software solutions to integrate various sales channels, such as physical stores, online, and mobile, to provide a consistent and unified omnichannel experience for consumers. 

Many stores are serving as fulfillment centers, which ship directly to customers. But it works the other way as well. In other words, customers have the option to buy online and pick up in-store (BOPIS), which blends the virtual and physical shopping experiences. 

5. Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (VR)

Finally, some physical stores and eCommerce sellers are implementing VR and AR technologies to enable interactive product demonstrations, virtual try-ons, and enhanced visualization. This gives customers more information about products by immersing them in the shopping experience, improving the customer experience and potentially reducing product return rates. 

To remain competitive, online and in-store retailers must evolve their technology solutions to keep up with consumer demands. Fortunately, there are many opportunities to integrate hardware and software to elevate the shopping experience. At the same time, many of these solutions will deliver efficiencies and cost-savings for businesses. 

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Topics: RFID, Warehouse Managment, Retail, Technology Trends, Customer Demand, Automation

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