The COVID-19 pandemic has drastically changed the way people shop, forcing retailers to reevaluate their processes and their technology. While there are uncertainties, we know stores just aren’t going to reopen and go back to normal.
What will retailers do differently? What will shoppers expect? What new technology do retailers need?
Across the country, consumers are choosing to shop with retailers that offer cleaner stores, shorter checkout lines, curbside pickup, “Buy Online, Pickup In Store” (BOPIS), touchless payments, and more. As consumers adapt, they will become accustomed to these new conveniences, and eventually expect it. Retailers that start using newer technology to adapt and offer all these options will succeed.
Whether they want to or not, retailers have to change – not to just get through the pandemic, but to be successful in the new world of retail. There have been important lessons learned from COVID-19 for retailers, all of which should be taken into consideration moving forward.
10 Retail Technology Solutions for Today’s New World
Whether you are an essential retailer, or reopening your brick-and-mortar, here are 10 technology solutions to help retail businesses reopen and adopt to the new world of retail:
1. Online Shopping
If there’s one thing we’ve learned over the past few months, having an online storefront is vital. If you have a physical store, offer BOPIS and add curbside pickup as a delivery option on your site. Consider selling on third-party sites such as Amazon, Walmart, eBay, and Facebook to expand your market reach and increase online sales.
2. Curbside Pickup
While many retailers offer curbside delivery, it’s not always easy to manage, especially with lots of orders and/or limited staff. Develop a well-thought-out process to manage your orders and use text messages/emails to communicate the status of each order with customers.
3. Mobile Point of Sale
With current restrictions, it’s important to keep traffic flowing. With a mobile POS solution, you can process payments anywhere in your store to keep lines as short as possible (line-busting), as well as outside your store for curbside pickup.
4. Touchless Payments
As more brick-and-mortar businesses reopen and consumers return to shopping in stores, touchless solutions become more and more important. Consider offering Smart Wallet payment processing solutions, such as Google Pay and Apple Pay. This allows customers to pay for their orders without having to reach into their wallet or touch your credit card device.
5. Sneeze Guards
All stores should have a shield for virus protection. Some sneeze guards are designed for specific point of sale monitors, so check with your technology provider before buying a custom solution. They should be easy to install and relocate in case your store setup changes.
6. Security Labels
If you offer home delivery or curbside pickup, you can secure packages with tamper-proof labels (or seals). These labels provide visual evidence if a package has been tampered with. Your customers will appreciate it!
7. Email Marketing Automation
With fewer customers visiting brick-and-mortar stores, retailers need a way of communicating with customers and getting promotions out. If you aren’t already, use an email marketing solution. If your system allows it, personalize and automate your campaigns/promotions to drive up clicks and sales.
8. Self-Service Kiosks
If your store gets busy, add a few kiosks so customers can shop your store’s live inventory without having to walking around. Add kiosks outside your store if shoppers have to wait in a line to enter your store.
9. Robots in Retail
Since the pandemic, more retailers are considering robots to reduce human-to-human interaction. They can restock shelves and assist with customer service; at one Best Buy store, a robotic cart was spotted supporting curbside delivery. And they sure look impressive!
For retailers willing to experiment, scan-and-go looks like a promising technology for mainstream retail, especially in the post-Coronavirus world. Similar to Amazon Go, customers simply grab items off the shelf and walk out, eliminating checkout lines altogether.
Tips for Purchasing New Technology
Before purchasing new retail technology, prepare a list of all the hardware and software you own, and what you think you may need. Even if it’s just a short list, it will help you plan a budget and compare solutions. When making your list, consider all mobile point of sale devices, credit card devices, receipt printers, cash drawers, scanners, servers, internet service, retail software, eCommerce technology, and more.
5 ways to save on new technology purchases:
- Tax deductions: Save all receipts and ask your staff to save receipts too. Technology purchases for your business can be deducted on taxes.
- Trade-ins: Before disposing of your unneeded hardware (which can cost money), ask your technology provider if they accept trade-ins, or sell/donate it to a store that needs it.
- Financial assistance: Research grants and financial assistance offered by organizations to retail businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Volume discounts: While you shouldn’t base new technology purchasing decisions solely on price, ask your technology provider if they offer volume discounts and/or have any current promotions.
- Defer payments: Many technology providers are currently assisting retailers and helping them adopt new technology solutions by offering either deferred payments or even buy now, pay later models. For example, at Celerant, we are currently offering your first 3 months free for any new SaaS product to help retailers get started with new technology now, while not having to pay until later.