THE advent of digital technology has seen many retailers across Africa already using the technology to personalise the customer’s in-store experience and Namibian retailers should not fall behind in this innovative trajectory.
The digital shift in retail does not refer only to the notion that customers will one day likely forego brick-and-mortar stores and shop exclusively online. Rather in the digital age, it interrogates how physical retailers are incorporating technology into their daily operations to encourage a digital shopping experience for customers – while enhancing their own operations in the process.
For years retailers have watched as consumers swapped their hardcover books out for online diaries, forewent their TV sets in favour of watching cat videos on their cell phones, stopped buying CDs – or even downloading music – and opted to stream songs instead.
The past three years have seen increases in the numbers of weekly brick-and-mortar shoppers recorded, up from 40 percent in 2015 to 44 percent in 2018, according to the 2018 PwC Consumer Insights Survey. The report indicates that consumers are increasingly seeing shopping as a sensory and social experience, rather than a straightforward errand.
Instead of using these statistics as an indication that consumers will soon return to physical stores and forego online shopping altogether, retailers should use technology to give their customers the best of both worlds – the touch and feel experience of walking into a physical store, while transforming the environment digitally in a way that allows customers to feel as though they’ve walked into the future of retail shopping.
Currently, there is talk of facial recognition technology being used in the South African retail space to aid security and identify known shoplifters – a huge benefit, indeed. Local retailers could take the value of this technology a step further by not only mirroring the example above, but also by digitally linking the facial recognition technology installed in surveillance cameras to digital signage set up in-store.
The camera visuals would indicate, for instance, a larger number of males than females walking into the store over a 10-minute period. It would then enable the automatic change of content displayed on the digital signage to temporarily display advertisements or special deals targeting the specific demographic.
In addition to improving security and adding marketing options for store owners, surveillance cameras can also be used to improve efficiency on the back-end.
There are also systems that automatically detect when there is a shortage of stock and places the order for more stock automatically. This not only automates the process of maintaining store stock – thereby ensuring efficiency – but it also saves the store some money because they remove the threat of going long periods without the stock-in-demand on their shelves.
The opportunity to completely digitise the retail experience for store owners is one that is easily accessible to Namibian retailers. The misconception, however, is that this type of technology must be bought. Rather, it is a service that can be outsourced to an IT company.
Increased efficiency, enhanced security, improved cost-saving measures: using technology adequately can inspire all these things and more – and will ultimately result in happier customers, happy business owners and happier staff.
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015