RBTE blog: Retailers hungry for better in-store experiences

It was a busy couple of days at RBTE 2016. The show was buzzing with excitement and it was a great opportunity to share ideas, showcase latest innovative solutions and catch up on industry news. We ran two Retail Bootcamp sessions and both were a success. We had a packed audience of retailers and merchants, all looking to offer better solutions to their customers and consumers, and to inject some technological innovation into their existing offerings.

The desire to enhance physical experience in-store was an issue raised most often by the retailers that came to see us this year. Retailers were particularly interested in finding out how a better in-store experience can help them drive loyalty – of both current customers, in order to increase sale size and the number of visits to the store, and new customers, in order to drive new traffic and widen client opportunities. They were keen to explore ways in which the in-store shopping experience can become more exciting and engaging, with a goal of de-anonymising physical shoppers, and what follows by offering them a much more personalised service.

The focus on improved in-store experience is an interesting trend and one we see growing almost month by month. It's largely driven by consumer behaviour and what retailers see on a day-to-day basis – the divide between the mobile/online and physical commerce. To bridge that divide they are increasingly looking to partner with solution providers that will be able to make the most of their existing infrastructure – thus providing quick, easy and cost-savvy solutions.

Verifone helps merchants achieve just that – modify their existing infrastructure so that they are able to add digital-like services to the in-store environment. Those value-added services can include applications that rate the shopping experience. Those allow merchants to receive real-time feedback about the services they provide at the point of sale and identify stores that perform well, as well as areas for improvement. They also enhance the shopping experience, making customers feel that their opinions are valued and listened to. Loyalty programmes are also popular value-adds – where retailers look to extend their existing loyalty programmes into a more seamless digital offering so that the loyalty benefits are realised automatically at the point of sale, or by implementing new programmes that can be planned, launched, and managed with limited cost and time to market utilising Verifone's cloud-based Commerce Platform. Finally, new forms of acceptance, like paying for purchases with points, either earned by a merchant's loyalty scheme or another third-party programme like those collected through airline miles is a great way to drive additional sales.

A lot of retailers also came to us for advice on beacons. They were keen to explore beacon technology in order to better understand customers and in turn better respond to consumer demands. Most retailers we spoke to were at the first stage of beacon implementation, looking to use the technology as an intelligence tool to gather valuable insight about consumer behaviour, rather than actively interact with shoppers by pushing offers to their phones.  

It was inspiring to see a clear desire of retailers to migrate from the legacy world of box-like point of sale solutions, towards more connected commerce platforms that allow for development of apps and services to offer a better retail experience to consumers. We're looking forward to seeing the impact that connected commerce will make on consumers in the UK.

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