Technology has always been a controversial subject in retail. Recent years have seen an influx of futuristic additions to stores, from virtual fitting rooms to biometric payments. A 2019 survey found that UK retailers are some of the most high-tech in the world:
- 45% use visual search technology, allowing customers to purchase products by pointing at them with their phone’s camera
- 27% employ voice search technology
- 23% use augmented reality or virtual reality in some capacity
This is great for brands who want to seem cutting-edge, but is it what customers really want? Research shows that shoppers have mixed feelings about retail tech:
- Two thirds of customers think that technology has improved their shopping experience.
- However, just 30% want more tech in stores.
- Older customers are especially wary. Only 2% of Baby Boomers have used virtual fitting rooms, compared to almost half of millennials.
Keep it simple
When customers do embrace technology, it tends to be on the simpler side. By far the most popular in-store technologies are self-checkouts and contactless payment:
- The proportion of customers using self-checkouts has increased from 57% in 2019 to 75% in 2020
- 70% of customers say that self-checkout makes makes shopping easier
- 83% of UK shoppers now use contactless payments, accounting for 68% of all debit card transactions
The message is clear. Customers are happy to adapt, but only if it’s worth their while. Shoppers have embraced self-checkout and contactless because they offer tangible benefits. Customers aren’t anti-tech. They just don’t want technology for the sake of technology.
We are always mindful of this when designing VoCoVo products. We have no interest in filling stores with shiny gizmos that do nothing to improve the customer experience. Everything we do is geared towards providing the smoothest, most efficient service possible. Here are three examples of retail technology done the right way:
Our headsets are the essence of simplicity. Instead of stuffing them with bells and whistles, we’ve focused on doing one thing as well as possible. By improving in-store communication, our headsets make life easier for colleagues and customers alike:
- Colleagues can check stock and find product information at the press of a button. If you are unable to answer a customer’s question, there is no need to keep them waiting while you search the store for an answer. By streamlining communication, we can reduce unnecessary walking by 1.4km per shift.
- Headsets are hands-free, allowing colleagues to talk and work at the same time. Colleagues can answer questions while continuing to perform manual tasks. This can save your store 105 minutes per day in wasted time.
- Telephony integration allows colleagues to take external calls from the shop floor. Customers are spared the frustration of being put on hold and colleagues are able to answer calls without interrupting their work.
2. Call points
The idea behind our call points is equally simple. Headsets are about connecting colleagues. Call points are about including customers in the conversation:
- Customers can use call points to contact colleagues without searching the store or joining the main queue.
- Colleagues can respond via their headsets, either answering the customer’s question or letting them know help is on the way.
- Call points are fully modular, making it easy to move them around the store. Call point usage is tracked, so you can compare their effectiveness in different locations.
- Call points can be placed on customer service desks during quiet periods. This frees up colleagues to help customers on the shop floor, rather than being tied to one location.
When it comes to in-store communication, checkout colleagues are often left out of the equation. Checkouts are frequently in a separate area, forcing colleagues to rely on inefficient tannoy announcements when they need help. Even minor issues such as an expired till roll can mean a long wait or a long walk. In either case, the result is longer queues and frustrated customers.
We believe that checkout colleagues deserve better, so we came up with an innovative solution. Our keypads are the perfect example of a simple idea that makes a world of difference:
- Checkout colleagues can call for help at the press of a button. They simply select the relevant category on the keypad to send an automated message to all nearby headsets.
- This message tells floor colleagues the nature and location of the problem. If they need more information, they can call back and speak directly to the checkout colleague.
- Checkout colleagues can continue to serve customers while waiting for assistance, meaning that queues don’t become unmanageable.
Technology can be a great asset, but only when used correctly. The key is not more tech but better tech. That’s why every feature of every VoCoVo product is designed with customer service in mind. Speak to our team for more advice on making technology work for you.