Technology Eases Life in the Retail Trenches

August 1, 2017


Shoe shopping.

I spend more time looking at shoes than you’d expect from a person with only two feet. If I were outfitting, say, the island of Manhattan or a well-heeled millipede? Sure. Time well spent.

But since I just shop for me, and I can only wear one pair of shoes at a time (alas), it could be argued that I’m a bit of an expert on the subject.

This weekend at a popular department store, I asked the attendant about a particularly cute pair, and she dashed off to the back room to check for my size.

It took a long time. A looong time. Long enough that I began to wonder just how far back this back room went.

What could be going on back there? Is she okay? And where the heck are my shoes?

I get it. She was doing her best. With all the styles and sizes, the back room of shoe department must be an impenetrable maze of straps and heels.

But I’m also an expert in retail technology, so I know it’s a maze that can be more easily navigated with the right inventory system. Why couldn’t she do an inventory check on the spot with a tablet? They used scanners at checkout, so couldn’t they be configured to make real-time inventory adjustments on the fly?

Of course, that technology already exists. Many retailers have been improving shopping experiences with it for years.

But unfortunately, all too many still lag behind.

Late tech adoption puts a damper on your customers’ shopping experience, which is the single most important metric for brick-and-mortar retailers competing with the convenience of e-commerce vendors.

It hampers employees as well. In an industry with expensive, time-consuming turnover, a simple upgrade can empower employees to deliver a better customer experience, take pride in the quality of their work, and feel a deeper sense of satisfaction on the job.

Like most people, I still shop physical showrooms because I like to see and touch products before making a purchase. According to Retail Drive’s Consumer Survey, 68% of consumers feel the same way, and another 18% shop brick-and-mortar for the social experience it provides.

Retail employees can make or break that experience.

I like interacting with happy salespeople. I also like interacting with technology. Fortunately, we live in a world where both can, should, and do exist together.

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