Are Retailers Using Technology Like RFID, Apps and Personalization Enough?

Online retailers have been taking advantage of technology for years: using things like RFID, apps, personalization and more. Brick and mortar stores have been slower to use the same, but that is changing.

Are Retailers Using Technology Like RFID, Apps and Personalization Enough?So how are some of these technologies being used?

Let’s start with personalization and apps. Retailers these days have to make the shopping experience more personalized. In person that’s more easily said than done, so some retail outlest are trying to use apps to make it happen. Basically, the apps can do a few things. One type can scan barcodes or QR codes as people shop to give them more information, build lists or help them find other items that can complement a purchase. Another kind of app does things like help find coupons or instant savings as they shop.

Another kind of technology is RFID. This also helps with personalization, but it does more. It helps track a lot of information for the retailer. This helps them market items, find information to assist customers and track merchandise. RFID allows information about the product to be gathered, such as how long it stays in stock, how it moves around the store, who purchases it and even if there are ways to help with the purchase (such as rebates, etc.).

Chip-and-PIN technology is being used for credit and debit cards in store. It uses a microchip instead of a magnetic strip on credit or debit cards and can help consumers and retailers keep track of a lot more information. The chips can store customer loyalty and rewards programs, making the huge stack of separate “store cards” a thing of the past. They are also harder to breach for data, so are safer for consumers and stores alike.

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Are 2D Barcodes the Wave of the Future?

2D barcodes are a new way that retailers are implementing retail marketing today. But what are 2D bar codes? Are they QR codes? Are 2D Barcodes the Wave of the Future?In some cases they are the same thing,  but not all the time. QR codes are a type of 2D barcode, but not all 2D barcodes are QR codes and need a separate kind of reader. How can you use them?

Retail Marketing Potential

2D barcodes have a lot of marketing potential for all kinds of businesses. They are easily placed anywhere and can be easily targeted to your customers. They efficiently provide information that can be accessed via their smart phones. Consumers are used to the “point and shoot” aspect of using a scanning app on their phones to access information. That hurdle has already been scaled. There are other ones to overcome before you make the 2D leap.

The Downside

Adoption of 2D has been slow mostly because people aren’t aware of them and what they do. Then there’s the added step of a need for a separate barcode reading app. Another issue is that consumers have found that the experiences with them have been disappointing. Not any different from the hurdles faced when QR codes hit the marketing world, so consider the down sides temporary.

Overcoming Hurdles

Here’s how to overcome them.

Start by using 2D barcodes. Use them and place instructions around about them and what value it adds to their experience. The best part is that using them now is low cost to the retailer and that is a huge plus. The few extra instructions needed for your customers can be as little as your staff being excited about them and showing them off.

So ask your retail marketing company how 2D barcodes can be the wave in your future, then dive in and get wet!

Are Coupon Aggregators Like “Retail Me Not” Fair to Retailers?

Coupon aggregator sites like “Retail Me Not” and Groupon are big business, but not big for your business. They advertise that they drive sales to your door, but really all they do is line their pockets while reducing your profits.

Sites like Groupon or Retail Me Not offer unbelievable deals on services and products. Often they are for things like spa services or other services. Some are for products that you may sell. Customers can buy them for half off or better. Sounds like a great way to get them in your store, then upsell them, right? Not really.

Are Coupon Aggregators Like "Retail Me Not" Fair to Retailers?These sites basically work like this: merchants are asked to choose a product or service for their daily deal. They are asked to take at least 50% off the product or service. Once the deal is sold the site takes 40% to 50% of the already discounted price. That means the merchant is only making about 25% to 30% for that product or service. The idea is that they will make money if another product or service is purchased when the one they bought from the site is redeemed. If your business doesn’t have a big margin for taking that kind of loss, then it’s not such a great deal. In fact, the only way that most merchants make any profit is if a high percentage of people who buy the deals don’t redeem them.

The other problem with the site deals is the type of customer that you get. They tend to be the kind that won’t pay full price… for anything. That means that sites like Groupon give merchants the idea that they will make money back from regular sales that customers make when redeeming the ones they bought online. However most never materialize.

The “marketing” aspect of using coupon aggregators isn’t worth the cost to your business. Try other marketing efforts and make your own 50% off sales. At least you’ll get 50%!

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Can Facial Recognition Software Boost Luxury Retail Sales?

Facial recognition software is used in many different ways. One way isn’t what you would normally think of to use it, luxury retail sales. Luxury retailers are using it as a way to personalize the shopping experience for their VIP customers.

Can Facial Recognition Software Boost Luxury Retail Sales?Facial recognition software was developed for use in law enforcement and anti-terrorism, but now luxury retailers have found a use for it that helps to advance their business while making clients feel they are getting the attention they deserve, even if store employees don’t immediately recognize them. A wall mount display or kiosk installed in the store allows customers to register. The store then has access to a plethora of information about the customer that allows the retailer to cater to the client and offer promotions based on their specific needs.

The software allows the store to scan customer’s faces as they enter the store. Once it recognizes the customer in the database, an alert is sent to store employees on a computer, tablet or smartphone. The employee then has immediate access to information specific to their industry. For instance, if it is a clothing store, the employee will immediately have access to customer information on sizes, favorites (such as colors, styles or designers) and their spending history. So before even interacting with the customer, they can have items ready for them to see or try on.

For those concerned with privacy, retailers will have to work hard to earn their customer’s trust. Many customers, especially affluent ones, don’t want personal information used for other purposes, and don’t trust retailers to protect it. The recent issue with Target and their loss of financial information is a perfect example. This will be the biggest hurdle to the use of the technology.

In many cases it will come down to ease and speed of the shopping experience over distrust issues. Then again, if you are a luxury retailer, you won’t be long if your customers can’t trust you. So, being able to cater to the wealthy client using facial recognition software will help you to boost your sales.

Black Friday Results | How Retailers Faired This Year

Black Friday is the day all retailers wait for each year. It’s the day that is supposed to take them from being in the red, to being in the black on their income statement. There are a lot of years where this is the case. The results for how 2012 fared are not black and white, but a blurry grey. Generally, though, Black Friday sales were not the huge boon retailers were hoping for.

Black Friday Results | How Retailers Faired This YearBrick and mortar stores reported that while foot traffic was up 3.5%, sales were down 1.8% from 2011. This was the first decline since 2008. Not a good sign, so to explain it, many said there were reasons other than shoppers not spending. A small portion of that was due to a shift to online purchases, which rose from about $830 million to $1 billion.

There was also the shift of some shopping Thanksgiving night as well as Black Friday. The argument could be made, however, that retailers are looking at Thursday and Friday sales together, and if they also have online abilities, it would be considered together.

What those numbers don’t show is the fact that the National Retail Federation reported that nearly 80% of shoppers took advantage of the weekend’s promotion to buy non-gift items. That means that shoppers bought things that they needed, not gift items. 58% bought clothing and accessories, up from 51% last year.

Shoppers gobbled up the promotion and sale items in order to buy necessities. So despite the nice headline numbers, people remain cautious with their spending. Many shoppers decided that after the election it would be smarter to reign back any spending as the economic outlook is uncertain.

Other word of mouth reports from retailers are that the traffic in their stores wasn’t higher, but no more than a usual shopping day. Many retailers are not expanding their holiday hiring and hours since their sales fell short of the all important Black Friday expectations.


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