The retail shopper experience has been heavily debated over the past decade. While the online shopping experience offers convenience, brick-and-mortar stores allow consumers to ‘touch and feel’ products before they buy. Neither one has been able to dominate retail, but, enabled by radio frequency identification (RFID) technology, omni-channel retail offers the best of both worlds and a whole lot more, creating an entirely new shopper experience that will shape the future of retail.
Emma is an ambitious young professional. She heads down to her favorite fashion store during her Friday lunch break to buy a pantsuit before her big meeting next week. As a loyalty cardholder the store knows that Emma loves her pantsuits and sent her a text message about their new line released that week.
Upon entering the store, Emma is greeted by a smiling sales assistant who was alerted of her arrival by the RFID chip in her loyalty card. “Hi Emma, how are you today? Would you like me to show you our new line of pantsuits”? Emma browses the new line as the sales assistant explains the benefits of the breathable fabric and stylish touches from their ethical sources. Soon after arriving Emma has selected three suits to try on and heads to the fitting room.
Stores who use RFID for inventory have seen the benefits of happier staff. Freed from the tedious work of barcode stocktaking, staff can focus on the part of the job they enjoy, helping customers shop. That personal service makes a big difference to the retail shopper experience too.
Webloyalty and Conlumino recently released The Connected Consumer report, which examines the value of retail personalization based on the desires and needs of consumers. In the survey 39% stated that they would be more influenced to make a purchase if there was a personal element.
In the fitting room Emma is greeted by the interactive RFID-enabled smart mirror, which identifies her items and displays them on screen along with buyer reviews. The mirror immediately suggests she try a slightly smaller size for one of the three suits based on her previous experience with that style – the sales assistant gets it to her in no time. While trying on the suits Emma uses the mirror to send information on the suits to her friends Olivia and Sophia, who immediately write back with their favorites.
According to the survey, consumers are also optimistic about the evolution of shopping, 52% think that connected technology will help to tailor the retail process, 31% believe it will make shopping a more personal experience, while 70% think it will make shopping more convenient. Smart mirrors are a great example of connected technology and Ralph Lauren, for example, now offers touch-screen mirrors in its flagship Manhattan store.
After trying on all three suits, and with feedback from friends, Emma chooses one and the mirror suggests a belt based on the suit and her preferences. Happy with her suit and belt, Emma returns to the store floor and to her seemingly personal sales assistant, “…any plans this weekend Emma? We have a great new selection of summer dresses for this hot weather.”
Combining previous purchase history with weather and other data, sales assistants are prompted to make better suggestions, enabling more personal cross selling and up selling. This information can also direct window and in-store displays.
Emma immediately falls in love with one dress and, encouraged by an immediate targeted discount, she wants to try the matching shoes. The sales assistant already has her size ready and Emma adds them to her growing collection of items.
Stores with RFID-enabled inventory can ensure that all stock is in the right place at the right time, even misplaced items or those still in the fitting room, so potential sales opportunities are never missed. In fact, 49% of shoppers are unwilling to spend more than 10 minutes looking for merchandise, and as many as 30% never locate what they want, according to a recent survey.
Running out of time for lunch and with too much to carry, Emma chooses the self-service checkout and requests her items be shipped to her home. With her address on record, Emma still has time to touch in at the RFID-enabled kiosk on the way out to share her experience through social media.
RFID kiosks enable retailers to incorporate social media into the shopping experience. Kiosks also act as self-service checkouts reducing queuing, a major cause of lost sales according to many experts. Through omni-channel, in-store shoppers can choose to have their purchases delivered, while online shoppers can choose to collect in-store.
Imagine each aspect of Emma’s experience again from the store’s perspective. Each element not only increases customer loyalty, but also creates lots of useful data so the store can better understand their customer and further develop their personalized offering. RFID in retail revolutionizes the shopper experience, increasing sales per visit and boosting customer loyalty.
Emma returns to work thoroughly satisfied with her lunch-break shopping experience. She tells all her friends about her favorite store and can’t imagine shopping anywhere that doesn’t offer the same personalized, RFID-enabled, retail shopper experience. This is the future of shopping.