Every business needs innovation to remain healthy and competitive. The combination of increased globalization along with consumers that are becoming more tech-savvy makes this even more true in retail. Over time, customers are becoming more demanding. They want improved experiences, better products, and an enhanced sense of security. These are the areas on which efforts to innovate must focus.
The next challenge is finding ways to foster innovation while still managing day-to-day operations. The following five solutions can help.
1. Create Multi-Departmental Innovation Teams
Recently Kellogg’s has created a ‘Speed Team’ of professionals across multiple departments in the company. The purpose of the speed team is to bring innovative new products to market quickly while still maintaining the integrity required, including claims testing.
Walmart has launched Store Number 8. This is a combination innovation lab, and business incubator, created to support the growth of innovative retail ideas. One of startups that has been spun out of store number 8 is Code Eight. This is a high-end personal shopping service aimed at wealthier customers. Another is project Kepler. These are check-out free stores, similar to those launched by Amazon.
2. Provide Brand Ambassadors With Incentives to Provide Insights
Tell him what you want brand ambassadors, super users, and loyal customers don't simply shop in your stores. They tend to be experts in your products, and have very strong opinions about your store and the experience you provide.
Many brand ambassador programs provide incentives for promoting your business. Why not tap into all the insights and ideas of audience segments? Consider creating a brand ambassador program that provides your most loyal customers with incentives for providing their thoughts and ideas to you.
3. Rethink Payment Solutions
New payment solutions combine technical innovations and security to improve the customer experience. Innovative brands are now offering a variety of payment options to their customers. These include contactless payment options like Google Pay, mobile payments (Square), even checkout-free options like Walmart’s Project Kepler mentioned above.
Customers are more interested in alternative payment Solutions than ever. They feel much more secure using a mobile payment square contactless option for example than swiping their card, or passing their card to one of your employees. This leads to goodwill and trust with customers who are concerned with digital privacy.
These Solutions also lead to improved checkout experiences in brick and mortar stores. By incorporating newer payment options you can millions of people that get customers through your check lanes faster.
4. Focus on Maximizing Mobile Capabilities
There's more that you can do to maximize your mobile capabilities then adding Mobile payment options. You can also rely on custom-built mobile apps to create a better experience for your mobile users.
By offering your customers an app, you can help to create a high-level, very personalized experience for them. In addition to browsing your products and making purchases customers can use digital coupons, collect and track loyalty points, track their orders, receive push notifications, and engage with conversational marketing platformswhen they need help.
You can gain new insight into your mobile customers by collecting data on their shopping behaviors, activities, even location. This information can be used for better targeting, and for making decisions about your products.
Finally, if you have brick-and-mortar locations, you can combine your app with beacon technology to track app users while they are in store. There, based on their location in the store, and what you already know about them, you can send them special offers, specific product recommendations, and personalized content. However, unless that content is exceptionally relevant, the in-store experience will simply seem intrusive. The following tools can help when it comes to creating that content:
- Canva: for creating great visual content
- Studicus: for professional copywriting and editing
- Grab my Essay: for business writing services
- Whitesmoke: for online grammar and spell checking
5. Incorporate AR & VR Technology
There are more uses for virtual and augmented reality than entertainment and gaming. Retailers are using these technologies to create amazing online experiences.
First, brands that sell furniture and other home goods are using augmented reality to enable shoppers to use their smartphones to visualize what different pieces will look like in their homes. IKEA is credited with being first to market with this technology. On the supply side of things, Coca Cola uses AR to enhance its B2B sales with technology that allows store managers to visualize how Coca Cola coolers will look in their space.
There is also value in using AR and VR to create special events that will draw the attention of customers and potential customers. In once case, Foot Locker combined AR with geolocation technology to create a scavenger hunt. The ‘hunt’ led participants to a location where they were given the opportunity to purchase shoes not yet available to other customers. While this is not the kind of experience that can be scaled or repeated, it is certainly one that leads to great engagement.
Finally, AR and VR can be used in the physical retail space as well. Zara now offers an AR app that customers can deploy in-store. Rather than getting fashion ideas from mannequins or window displays, customers aim their devices at trigger points in the store. This allows them to see virtual ‘holograms’ of models showcasing the latest fashions.
In order to innovate in a way that leads to healthy growth, businesses must leverage technology, data, and employee talent and innovation. In addition to this, innovation must be applied in a way that benefits the customer through better products, better experiences, and improved security.
Author Bio: Estelle Liotard is a blogger and editor at Trust My Paper. Estelle has an entrepreneurial spirit, and would like to use her experience as a writer to build a digital agency.