A lot has been said about how retail companies are trying to reinvent themselves throughout the current crisis. Large retailers (think Amazon and Walmart) seem to be doing well, but when it comes to small or mid-sized companies, the picture looks a bit more complicated.
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At Koombea we are optimistic that many retail companies, no matter their size, can still reinvent themselves and adapt to the challenges ahead. We know that this is easier said than done, that’s why we want to share with you 4 technological tools that can help in these turbulent times. We do not intend to describe each one in detail, but to give you an idea of what each can do in general terms for your business.
The Current Context
The shift in consumer behavior was something that nobody would have expected at the beginning of the year. This has impacted not only retailers but also manufacturers and other types of companies. Additionally, soaring unemployment rates seem to make everything worse. Lastly, as if all of this weren’t enough, we can’t seem to find the light at the end of the tunnel.
Economists and experts alike are predicting various scenarios for how the current situation will evolve. The optimistic ones say the economy will behave like a V or a U curve. Others, the not so optimistic ones, place their bets on an L or W shaped evolution of the economy. No matter the shape the economic recovery curve takes, technology can help. As a matter of fact, it seems to be one of the few things capable of helping businesses out.
At this moment, it is necessary that companies reduce costs and increase productivity while guaranteeing the safety of customers and employees. Nothing can help do this better than technologies that help reduce contact and exposure. We tried to compile technologies that would improve your indicators without affecting your stakeholders.
4 Retail Technologies
If you are considering investing in different retail technologies to help your business stay afloat and survive the crisis, these are a few of the tools we suggest. Some of them are more complex than others. Take into account that they may not be implemented immediately, but they will surely have a positive short and long term impact if executed properly. Please note that for many of these technologies we assume you already have a minimum IT infrastructure, or even better, that your business has an existing website or app.
We all know in one way or another what AI is. There’s no need to get technical about how it works, but rather how it can help your business right now. Although it might not be the cheapest solution, it definitely is cost-effective. There are two important ways in which AI might help your business, although they are not the only ones; we recommend you check this article for more details.
The first way is by helping your business automate key processes like customer service. Whether you currently have or not a way of helping customers out, AI is a solution that can help people with their needs, something especially relevant in this moment where many feel uncertainty.
The second way AI can help your business is by recommending products. We know that having fully stocked inventories right now is complicated due to various factors. Additionally, many companies are facing cash flow restrictions and cannot afford constant inventory replacements. That’s why suggesting alternatives to customers based on what you have is a good alternative.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is something many people use but are not really aware of. It can be utilized for many things, and luckily it is compatible with retail. Thanks to IoT, you can create small networks to which users can connect directly from their mobile phones.
This technology allows you to install in your brick and mortar store special beacons to which customers can connect. In other words, it enables you to create your own intranet. This lets you gather data on consumer preferences, which can consequently be used to refine your supply and sales processes. Our main takeaway of this is implementing loyalty programs for frequent buyers who for some reason can only buy their things in brick and mortar stores. It can also help customers know where a product in their shopping lists is located in order to speed up the buying time and make room for other customers. Other interesting IoT applications can be found here.
Progressive Web Apps
This is something that every retail business should have, even if it already has a regular mobile app. A progressive web app is similar to a website, and it can be accessed through a mobile device as an app or through a browser, making it very convenient for all types of users. Through a PWA you can help customers through basic features like browsing products, adding items to their shopping carts, or purchasing. More complex features can also be added. Retail app development can be a key success factor for your business, so we recommend hiring the right development partner.
Many businesses prefer to play it safe and go for Shopify Plus, one of the best retail platforms available in the market. For a monthly fee, Shopify Plus can help your business. It is a sales platform with a secure payment gateway that allows for a large volume of transactions. It differs from the regular Shopify version in the commission that the platform takes, being the Shopify Plus tariff lower. It can be customized, but if you need to do major adjustments we recommend you find a Shopify Plus partner who can do it. The platform offers a secure payment gateway that accepts various payment methods. If you want to get creative with Shopify we advise you to check out some of our articles in the retail section of our blog.