State of Mobility in Retail Report, From ‘Bricks to Clicks’: Navigating the Retail Revolution

Digital representation of a retail shopping cart

“When a customer enters my store, forget me. He is king.”  – John Wanamaker, Founder of Wanamaker’s Department Store (1876)


The above quote was revolutionary for its time. Since then, customers expect store associates to treat them like royalty at all stages of the shopping journey, such as:

  • Asking for product help
  • Checking out to purchase items
  • Returning items if necessary

Nowadays, cashier lines are augmented with self-checkout terminals. Some people prefer to research and shop from mobile devices at home rather than visit brick and mortar stores. Still, others prefer a courier to pick up items to return, instead of bringing them back to the store themselves.


Technology has changed how shoppers and retailers interact with each other. Yet, something fundamental has stayed the same and it goes back to the quote in the opening line: a desire for the personal touch of traditional, human-based interactions.


And in order to successfully navigate the new retail revolution, businesses must be prepared to deliver the best of both worlds.


Technology Saves Customers Time

In 2018, 66% of shoppers had no desire to interact with store associates and preferred to use technology like self-checkout. Meanwhile, 77% of consumers would be comfortable in a retail setting where only self-checkout was offered.


One clear theme from SOTI’s State of Mobility in Retail in Report, From ‘Bricks to Clicks’: Navigating the Retail Revolution, is that consumers are willing to adopt new retail technologies, such as self-checkout, if it allows them to save time while shopping:

  • 67% of survey respondents believe that retailers who utilize mobile technology provide a faster shopping experience.
  • 47% of consumers believe that self-checkout improves their in-store shopping experience.
  • 78% of U.S. consumers perceive mobile technology as an effective strategy for retailers to enable faster shopping experiences.
  • 43% of German consumers and 52% of UK consumers view self-checkout as the most trusted mobile retail technology option.

What this means: The greatest asset is time. Retailers who use technology to help shoppers save time enjoy a competitive advantage over those who don’t.


Security is More Important Than Ever

While shoppers eventually adopt new digital tools, there’s always resistance at the beginning. In a time where people don’t trust tech companies with their personal data, safety and security is perhaps the biggest hurdle to overcome.


Consider the following report findings:

  • 76% of consumers want personalized, in-store shopping experiences, but…
  • 33% of people aren’t willing to sacrifice personal data in order to get it.

Retailers must ensure that apps, scanners, printers and other mobile devices shoppers use are protected against risks such as:

  • Data leaks and breaches
  • Hacking
  • Decrypting sensitive information, such as credit card numbers
  • Third party access to data

And for the most part, this is happening. Chip and pin technology as we know it, was first introduced in 2004. Since then, according to the State of Mobility in Retail Report, 42% of respondents prefer chip and pin, or contactless payments, to cash transactions. It’s a staggering adoption rate in such a short time when you consider that financial transactions are a prime concern for customers being urged to put faith in technology.


What this means: This positive trajectory towards digital adoption and trust is a positive sign that the retail mobile revolution is in full swing and that consumers are willing to participate.


Personalization Wins

“Give the lady what she wants.” – Marshall Field, Founder of Marshall Field’s and Company (1887)


This famous quote hung over Marshall Field’s desk. No doubt, it was to remind store associates that the customer’s needs always came first.


Although today’s consumers are using technology when shopping for groceries, clothing or anything else, they still want to feel like they’re the only thing that matters. The best way to do that is to deliver personalized shopping experiences and give them what they want, when and how they want it.


Personalized shopping can take many forms. For example:

  • A retail app welcoming users to a store and showing them the latest deals based on their previous purchase.
  • Digital point of purchase (POP) signage which shows a customer how many points they have in a loyalty program and what benefits they’re eligible for.
  • Digital wayfinding/navigation signage which tells users where to find the items they are interested in purchasing in-store.
  • Scan-as-you-shop tools that keeps a running tally of the total cost of an order as more items are added to it. At checkout, instead of having to scan all the items individually, users simply scan one barcode that covers the entire purchase.

Just as technology has customized the way people shop, it’s also personalizing how people receive goods. While some shoppers still prefer cash and carry (or scan and carry), many respondents in the State of Mobility in Retail Report are embracing new delivery methods:

  • 90% of respondents are happy with at least one or more delivery options outside traditional in-store transactions.
  • 27% of respondents are willing to receive deliveries from autonomous vehicles.
  • 31% of respondents are open to receiving products from delivery drones.
  • 20% of respondents are comfortable having a delivery driver enter their home via a smart lock to leave purchases inside.

What this means: Shoppers use technology to tailor their needs. They expect the same level of personalization to follow them before, during and after the purchase is made.


What’s Next?

Just look at the retail technologies other countries are adopting to get a sense of what will be coming to a store near you.


In Sweden, for example, scan-as-you-shop technology is very popular, especially in grocery stores. Meanwhile, U.S. consumers are embracing receiving goods via delivery drones or autonomous vehicles.


Over in Germany, customers believe sales associates who use in-store mobile technology (e.g. to communicate with backroom workers to see if desired items are in stock) provide a better shopping experience. And UK customers prefer tried-and-true mobile technology like self-checkout.


Looking ahead further, facial recognition software can help the shopping experience by recognizing customers who choose to opt-in for it, and sending customized text messages, offers and discounts the moment they walk into a store.


Now picture yourself standing in front of a shoe display when you suddenly get a text message. The shoes you’re looking at are now 20% off. That’s how beacon technology uses where you’re standing – literally – to improve the shopping experience.


What this means: Consumers, especially younger ones, enjoy using mobile retail technology. Retailers must create amazing shopping experiences or risk losing even their most loyal customers to competitors.


How the SOTI ONE Platform Helps Retailers

As mentioned in the State of Mobility in Retail Report, From ‘Bricks to Clicks’: Navigating the Retail Revolution, mobility is changing the retail landscape. Shoppers want high quality products at the best possible price, as soon as they can get it.


The boundaries between in-store and online experiences are merging. It’s all about creating the shopping experience that best caters to customers on an item-by-item basis.


With the SOTI ONE Platform, retailers can improve the customer experience and streamline operations in a variety of ways from a single pane of glass:

  • Maintain compliance, security and privacy for personal information and credit card numbers.
  • Quickly deploy new mobile and IoT devices to retail locations around the world.
  • Build the apps staff need to perform their jobs more efficiently, and that customers want to use while shopping in-store.
  • Eliminate downtime when business-critical technology, like self-serve checkouts, experience a service disruption.

The SOTI ONE Platform allows retailers to build apps faster and manage mobile and IoT devices in one place. It helps reduce the cost, complexity and downtime related to business-critical mobility, enabling retailers to take mobility and IoT to endless possibilities.


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