11192017

How Mobile is Changing the Game for Brick-and-Mortar Retail Stores

Shopping has changed, and shoppers, particularly younger ones, have already become accustomed to purchasing experiences that are seamlessly integrated into their digital lives through their mobile devices.

Shops have begun to change with the technology, too, creating an opportunity for brick-and-mortar retailers to differentiate themselves from their closest competition by leveraging some of the same mobile technologies that gave rise to their E-commerce counterparts.

The traditional cash-register is quickly becoming obsolete, even by brick-and-mortar standards.

This means that retail establishments will need to up their game in order to avoid giving customers the impression that they are becoming obsolete.

The point-of-sale machine has now evolved into the mobile application, and modern retailers are finding innovative ways to take advantage of the benefits of a connected POS.

By integrating the payment system into inventory, customer relationship management, and analytics, retail businesses can optimize their operations and marketing strategies in order to become more competitive.

It is not just PoS systems that are going the way of the cash register local advertising, loyalty programs, and employee management are all being disrupted by mobile app technology, to the benefit of early adopters.

Leverage Mobile for Seamless Sales Experiences

Point of sale can become a pain point for retailers who fail to implement new technologies that improve their business functionality and customer experience. Many people are aware of the mobile payment systems offered by tech giants like Apple, or PayPal, but smart business owners will explore the other options that provide more flexibility in the checkout options they need, like Vend’s POS.

Vend enables layaways, discounts, refunds and returns, gift cards, sale notes, product and customer searches, and custom receipts. It can work in-store with Mac or PC, on desktops and mobile devices, all while presenting a clean and easy-to-use interface for the user. The features of a PoS system are important, but fast, easy functioning and attractive design can enhance the experience of users and customers.

A POS application should also integrate with a robust inventory management solution. This enables a more dynamic management of inventory, which will ensure that the store does not run out of stock just because it had to wait until the end of the day to place new orders. Shop owners using an app like Vend can give customers a fuller range of payment options, including PayPal, and has a built-in customer loyalty program. As mobile devices replace physical wallets, the importance of both is actually growing.

Vend can also autofill stock orders, produce daily closure reports, and track employees and cash. Just a few years ago these functions would have offered much fewer capabilities, without the slick customer-facing element, and even required separate apps. The point of the mobile movement is to make your non-core business functions facilitate your value proposition, rather than distract from it.

The Complete Digital Toolbox for Retailers

Loyalty programs are still one of the retailers’ most effective tools for driving repeat business. Mobile apps bring loyalty programs into the 21st century, placing them on the same devices customers use to manage all of their other accounts. A good loyalty program app should also be integrated with the store’s PoS system to collect and provide information without extra steps.

Customers use social networks not only to directly interact with retailers but also to discuss and recommend products and services. Retailers with a presence on these platforms can more easily engage potential and existing customers. This helps manage the perception of their brand. Retailer apps are no longer just for giants like Walmart. Small business retailers can launch their own apps with a little help, and this has been proven to drive more visits to the physical store.

Not only that, but shoppers increasingly use apps like Flipp to find flyer deals and coupons from multiple shops, or price comparison apps like ShopAdvisor. Such comparison shopping can be a challenge for retailers, especially if a competitor ends up giving potential customers a better deal.

Another emerging technology is augmented reality (AR). It is still new to many shop owners and consumers alike, but such an experience provides a number of potential uses. A customer can preview what an item would look like in a room using a picture on their phone, giving them the confidence that it is a good choice to buy. AR can potentially be used to bridge a language gap, as it can dynamically translate signs and help communicate with staff.

Many retailers can also benefit from using half a dozen or more separate business apps, but managing them individually would be a 20th-century approach to 21st-century technology. An app like Thrive will integrate your other apps, so you can, for instance, receive a notification from Vend and share it over your collaborative network all from a single platform.

Fear the Future or Leverage It

Many brick-and-mortar retailers have nervously watched the growth of E-commerce and the mobile revolution that puts the power to buy something in the hand of the consumer at the precise moment they want it. Despite this, the market share of traditional retailers is still more than 90 percent in the U.S., the world’s largest E-commerce market.

Mobile apps are becoming the tools progressive retailers of all models use to maximize business efficiency and help provide customers with experiences that will keep them coming back.

The shop that can reach a customer when they look up the product on their smartphone before they even enter the store wins.  The shop that can run inexpensive, integrated software for its crucial business functions wins.  The shop that can remind a customer that they have a loyalty reward to redeem wins.

The mobile revolution puts those capabilities in the hands of all shop owners, not just national chains and E-commerce giants. Take the future of your business in hand with mobile technologies, and donate your vintage cash register to the local museum.

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