Business Technology

5 mistakes retailers make with in-store digital technology

5 min read

27 May 2014

Retailers have realised that fighting the convergence of online and offline commerce is futile, and have begun to embrace in-store digital engagement technology.

While connected retail and in-store tracking are still in their early stages, retailers are bound to make a few errors. Here are five common mistakes to avoid.

1. Being covert about in-store tracking 

To gather behavioural data, some retailers have begun tracking customer mobiles without their knowledge. This is not illegal, or even valueless, but is unlikely to build customer loyalty, with many consumers feeling that the practise is a little ‘creepy’. 

Retail tracking doesn’t need to be underhand, and the richest data is often obtained with the customer’s full knowledge and consent. By asking customers to opt in and providing participatory value in the form of discounts and rewards, retailers can build up a two-way relationship with their customers. In-store technology should enrich the customers’ shopping experience, not make them feel like they’re under surveillance. 

2. Cramming technology into existing layouts 

Trying to retro-fit digital technology into a traditional store layout is like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. Adopting connected retail requires a complete rethink of how stores will function and technology should be considered during the initial design phase, making the setup feel seamless and organic.

A digital store requires less stock and more space for showcasing products and assisted selling. Display screens allow shoppers to interact digitally with a physical product, promoting product discovery and cross selling. The focus of a digital store is the shopping experience – instead of the hard sell – with customers able to create in-store digital collections to browse, shop, or share from any location. 

3. Assuming customers will use their own devices

In-store digital technology is worthless if customers are reluctant to use their own devices to interact with it. While some may be happy to whip out their latest iPhone, others may not want the hassle of registering or downloading an app and would rather use retailer’s devices. 

Providing store owned tablets or other technology that already has the necessary hardware and software installed is an easy way to avoid the off-putting experience of customer registration and download.

4. Letting customers take the technological lead 

Historically retailers have been slow to upgrade systems and have allowed customers to drive technology adoption. Retailers that follow customers when implementing digital will never keep pace with the evolution of technology. 

Connected retail will see retailers bringing new technologies to the market, encouraging customer adoption. Imagine Google partnering with John Lewis so customers can use Google Glass in-store, or Apple teaming up with Selfridges so customers can try the anticipated iWatch. This would drive new customers to the stores to experience physical products as well as accessing digital content and building collections. 

5. Choosing incompatible technology 

Careful partner selection is vital in adopting digital engagement technology. Incompatible systems give users a poor experience resulting in a negative brand image, and poor staff training can also make the technology ineffective. 

Above all digital engagement technology has to delight the customer, creating an enjoyable shopping experience in conjunction with well-trained store staff. It should make the shopping experience more relevant, personalised, and pleasurable, and this is only possible if it is fully integrated and is understood by every member of staff.
The time is fast approaching where there will be no divide between online and offline shopping, and brands that embrace connected retail will be the ones to thrive. All retailers can learn from the mistakes of early adopters, and with the right tech partner can ensure that their in-store technology integration is profitable from the start.

Ollie Bath is co-founder and UK Managing Director of CloudTags.