How Technology Can Help Save the Retail Industry
Although the global retail industry has been struggling in recent months, technology is one way to improve the metrics of retailers. Technology makes things more convenient for retailers and the customers, while saving some costs. Some systems that help improve retail businesses include apps, drones, beacons, inventory management, and cloud systems.
In recent years, retailers have been using multiple channels to reach customers. Just having a storefront often doesn’t cut it these days, and ecommerce is the fastest growing retail market in the United States and Europe. In fact, the United States’ online retail sales can expect to reach over $400 billion this year.
While e-commerce is on the rise, many people still do not own computers. In fact, 92% of Americans own cellphones while 73% own computers.
So since more people are browsing the web using their phones, it is important to have a mobile friendly website or app for customers to easily access retailers. Having an app makes it more convenient for shoppers since they can get to their favorite store with one touch.
RetailApp is one app that is useful for retailers. This app allows retailers to check business analytics on their mobile device. In addition to being convenient, RetailApp integrates different platforms and allow retailers to view their numbers in one location. This app can organize and integrate data in two weeks. With convenient, mobile access, this app can have a huge impact on the retail industry, especially for start-up retailers.
Amazon is developing technology to make shipping even faster and easier. In 2016 they successfully made a delivery in the U.K. using a drone. It is unclear how other retailers will use this technology since it is still in the development and patent stages.
However, if drones are widely available in the future they can help retailers by cutting shipping costs. Shipping fees start at $2.50 per package, and fees increase based on the size of the package and the location it ships to. These fees can quickly add up, especially for retailers that are solely ecommerce sites. By eliminating just a one-mile radius in each delivery route by using drones, the United Postal Service would save $50 million dollars a year.
Using drones is more convenient for the customer as well since they can get their package faster. This is important in the competitive online shopping market because customers will shop more with a retailer that can ship their packages quickly.
Beacons can make shopping more convenient for shoppers and increase sales for retailers. Beacons connect to the Bluetooth on cellphones and can notify the shopper of sales or lead them to the item they are shopping for in store.
This makes it easy for the shopper to find what they want and gives them a positive shopping experience. This also benefits the retailer because this lowers the risk a shopper will leave empty-handed because they couldn’t find what they wanted.
Inventory software can help reduce costs, monitor your inventory, and improve customer satisfaction. Inventory management systems can reduce costs for retailers because it allows them to know how many items you have and where they are without having to pay an employee to manually input this data.
Inventory software can also alert retailers when there are inconsistencies in their stock, which is key to stopping internal theft. Inventory software can also keep track of your margins, forecast sales and more.
The information an inventory system provides retailers helps them improve customer satisfaction. By knowing where everything is and what’s popular retailers can restock and/or tell customers if they have a product available with ease.
Cloud technology is becoming more commonplace in the retail market. Using cloud based systems can eliminate costs for retailers and is convenient.
Using cloud technology helps retailers save money is by eliminating the need for servers. Without servers they don’t need to pay to update systems or have large IT staff.
Operating in the cloud also makes it easy for employees to collaborate. By being able to work together in real-time it is more convenient than sending emails back and forth and waiting for responses or scheduling meetings. This is another way retailers can cut costs using a cloud system because meetings waste money.