In today’s world, technology is everywhere. Recently there has been a surge in the need for tech in retail stores due to the rise of e-commerce and the global COVID-19 pandemic.
This guide will review the trends driving retail software forward and how your organization can use technology to speed up growth and engagement.
Top Retail Trends Driving Technology Forward
Let’s start by reviewing the retail trends that are causing organizations to rely more heavily on technology. What is changing, and why is effective store software essential to a retailer's success in this environment?
Here are some of the most important developments:
Keeping customers engaged is harder than ever
The global pandemic caused a major shift in the way retailers can engage with their shoppers. With stay-at-home orders and worldwide quarantines, brands could no longer rely on store interactions and events in order to keep their audience in the know, and instead have had to shift much of their customer engagement efforts to remote channels like email and text.
But with every retailer forced to make this shift, how can you stand out? How can you get – and keep – the attention of your target audience?
The key is engagement. Customers want an immersive shopping experience that's consistent and adaptive. In other words, they should get the same experience online as they would in-store. Omnichannel retail software makes this consistency possible, encouraging customers to stay in touch with your brand via new channels when the store is not readily accessible.
Customers are discovering brands in new ways
Another trend in retail revolves around the new ways your customers are discovering brands and products. Social media has played a major role in product discovery since platforms like Facebook and Instagram make it easy for your audience to enter your ecosystem and connect with your brand.
However, social media tends to impact customers higher up in the funnel – while high social engagement is important, it’s also important to find the right technology solutions that let you convert that engagement into sales.
Purchasing looks completely different
There are also new ways to buy, and this retail industry trend is driving the adoption of technology that supports various payment options, and even timelines. You used to only be able to check out online by entering your credit card, but e-commerce sites now allow you to link your PayPal, ShopPay, Amazon Pay, and Apple Pay account so that check-out can happen with just one click.
The trend here is convenience – customers are more likely to purchase products when they don't have to get up and grab their wallets to enter their credit card information and when they feel that the payment methods available are extra safe.
But a new player in the checkout space is the “buy now pay later” option, which allows customers to pay for items in installments. The emergence of solutions like Affirm and AfterPay are giving shoppers even more ways to buy. Indeed, some of these solutions have even become available as an option in-store! By implementing one of these apps at your omnichannel brand, you’re allowing customers to increase their total spending without requiring them to take on more debt. The more options you give your customers, the easier and more convenient it will be for them to choose you over your competitors.
The human element is even more essential now than before
As important as technology may be in retail, the human element is still needed. Although the ways you sell might look different, do not underestimate the power of your retail associates!
Your customers may not have enough knowledge to choose the best product for their needs, or simply require more information before they feel comfortable making a purchase – especially if they are shopping online. Implementing sales software that lets associates provide this support online or over preferred channels like email and text will boost your bottom line, increase brand loyalty, and improve the customer experience no matter where your audience chooses to purchase.
The opportunities are endless with the right tech. Think virtual appointments, online fitting rooms, and other unique moments along the customer journey that your sales team is in a unique position to personalize – even if it is not happening in your physical store.
Optimize Your Sales Team
Give your sales team a bigger role in customer engagement by encouraging them to reach out to customers. Check out our top recommendations for when your sales team should be reaching out to customers.
Making Retail Technology Work for You
Retail technology is certainly on the rise, so it's important to start focusing on what sort of retail technology is right for you and your brand in order to remain competitive, engage with your target audience, and drive sales.
What areas of your business should you power with software first? What factors should you consider when choosing your retail technology?
Here are five things you must consider when implementing store software:
1. How does it connect to your other software solutions?
One of the most important considerations when it comes to finding a new tech solution is connectivity. You likely already have a point-of-sale system, e-commerce platform, or other marketing apps that you rely on to manage your day-to-day.
Make sure that the software you choose integrates with your existing solutions so you can maximize the benefits! The worst thing that could happen is that you purchase an expensive system that has tools you can’t use – all because they don’t connect to the rest of your technology.
Connecting Endear to the systems you have in place couldn't be easier. Check out our integrations to see if we already work with your solutions.
2. How user-friendly is the software?
When you review a new tool, consider how user-friendly it is. Think about the team members that will be using it – is it just for one department, or does the entire organization need to access it?
You want to avoid installing a system that is going to be tough for employees to learn. A solution that’s tricky to pick up quickly will reduce productivity and lead to frustration, so the best options are tech solutions that resemble how your team already is used to accomplishing their tasks.
Similarly, if the store software is easy to use, you can implement it faster and get the benefits sooner!
3. Consider price and ROI
Price and ROI should be considered with any major business decision, and implementing a retail software system is no different. However, there is a lot more that goes into this analysis than just the price of the new tech.
Start by looking at what you are already spending on your current tech solutions. How does the price of the new option compare to everything else? Will the benefits of the software outweigh the expense, and how quickly will you start to see a positive return on investment?
Consider how the new tool will help you save time, boost sales, or increase productivity. Based on these factors, you can determine the value it will bring to your organization and decide on whether the cost is worth it.
Find Out Your Potential ROI on Endear
Did you know that brands on Endear typically see a 61x return on their subscription? Find out how much in sales your stores could be generating using our ROI calculator.
4. Is it scalable?
Implementing new retail technology is a process that requires time, effort, and money. If you are going to invest significant resources into something new, make sure that it is scalable.
For example, does the product have features that can grow and adapt alongside your business? Will it support your team today, tomorrow, and five years from now?
The goal is to choose a retail software solution that can meet your immediate needs while also allowing room for growth. The price should scale as well, because a product may not be as attractive once you can no longer take advantage of the freemium option.
5. What does support look like?
Regardless of how many features a system has or how comprehensive the software may be, there will always be questions or problems that arise. When these come up, you’re going to want reliable tech support that your business can take advantage of.
This support is even more necessary if your team is working with a new type of technology. Figure out what support is available and what service you will receive at various stages of usage. Doing so will help you avoid any unpleasant surprises down the road.
The key to implementing technology is prioritization. By asking yourself the questions above, you can steadily build out a whole technology suite that helps your business run faster and more efficiently, all without too much downtime. But before trying to build yourself something brand-new, communicate with your various departments and teams to figure out what the major bottlenecks for them are, and then set out to learn what solutions are already on the market that solve these problems.
For example, Endear is solely focused on making it easier for your retail associates to communicate with customers remotely. If your salespeople are still using pen & paper to keep track of your most loyal customers' info, then now is the perfect time for a conversation.