Comment: In-store technology is not all about mobile

The short answer to the question ‘which type of retail does in-store technology best suit’ is: every retailer – from an independent sweet shop to a luxury designer brand and everything in between.

The question that retailers should consider, though, is what technology is relevant to their customer offer/market? And to get the answer they need to ask themselves:

When determining your technology strategy don’t make the false assumption that in-store technology is all about smart phones or tablets; it can be as basic as self-scan tills or accepting contactless payments.

Interestingly many consumers are now accepting – and expecting – technology to play some part in their shopping experience.

We just need to look at the statistics to see just how quickly consumers are adopting technology to make the case. Take tablets for example:

The issue is that retailers are allowing the implementation of technology to lag behind these consumer trends. A recent survey of retailers in the West End of London revealed that only a tiny proportion – 3% – are  offering self-scan checkouts or mobile POS. And less than half were offering click & collect, which is also surprisingly low. These are now hygiene factors for most shoppers, defining where they choose to shop today.

However, in the same area we have an example of a retailer using some of the most advanced in-store technology.

At Burberry there are RFID enabled “magic mirrors” so a customer can take an item to the fitting room and make a virtual catwalk appear in front of them. This retailer has built is strategy on new technology and has received industry plaudits - and it has been clearly tailored to the needs of its customers.

Additionally, De Beers is using an iPad tool that allows customers to compare cuts and designs of diamonds and rings and see how the jewellery looks in different lights. While it is appropriate for this premium brand to make this kind of investment given their customer expectations, it may not be a necessary move for purchasers of the Elizabeth Duke collection at Argos. It is all about having the right “techno horse” for the course and learning from the early adopters.

So let’s take a look at what some of the other technology leaders are offering on the high street at the moment:

In-store technology is the future of the high street. Technology solutions are evolving quickly, but the customer is evolving even faster and becoming ever more discerning. Furthermore, with retail space at a premium, stores will eventually become showrooms, stocking a mere fraction of their inventory. A fully integrated cross-channel experience is what the customer wants and in-store technology will be vital to delivering the operational excellence for a true omnichannel experience.

The Kurt Salmon team writes a regular column on in-store technology for Essential Retail.