How technology will need to change for 2021 in retail

Article by Martyn Jones | 6th January 2021

A new normal means new customer priorities

As we’re sure you’ve noticed, the COVID-19 outbreak has caused a major shift in the behaviour of your customers. Consumers have new priorities, and you will need to be mindful of these in order to succeed in 2021:

This means that customers want to limit the amount of time they spend in store. Many are favouring BOPIS (Buy online, pay in store) services such as Click & Collect as a way to achieve this. 42% of customers are more likely to use Click & Collect as a result of the pandemic. 

This is part of a larger trend towards omnichannel retail. Customers no longer make the distinction between online and in-store shopping . They prefer to mix and match according to their needs. In the first two months of the pandemic, stores offering both online and in-store purchasing options did 35% better than their online-only competitors. 

  • Customers are more reluctant to travel. A quarter of consumers are making an effort to shop locally, and this has caused growth in the convenience store sector to double. 

Read more about the trends to look out for in 2021 

Creating a safer, faster space with technology

The post-COVID consumer is looking for speed and safety. Luckily, retail technology has come a long way in the last few years. Using this technology to your advantage will be the key to meeting customer expectations in 2021. 

Our aversion to crowded spaces is likely to persist long after the pandemic is over

Customers will be looking for reassurance, and you can use technology to provide this. Smart signs can give clearly visible safety advice which can be updated regularly. 

Basic technology will also be vital for implementing safety measures. Screens between checkouts, social distancing markers, and automated hand sanitiser dispensers will all continue to play an important role. 

Faster, safer queuing

Queue management technology will play a big part in reducing queueing times. Sainsbury’s has already trialled a virtual queueing system, allowing customers to hold their place in the queue remotely. 

  • Research shows that customers are happier to queue if they have an idea of how long the wait will be. You can use smart signs to give up-to- the-minute estimates of waiting times
  • You can also use technology to analyse footfall and adjust your rotas accordingly. Our Call Points log ‘requests for assistance’ data, which can be analysed so you can allocate more colleagues during busier periods. 

Looking for more ways to reduce queuing times? We can help.

Seamless integration with online

Customers no longer see a distinction between online and in-store shopping. Over half of customers now use between 3 and 5 channels for a single purchase, and this number is even greater amongst younger shoppers.

Embracing this omnichannel approach will be vital in 2020. Research shows that omnichannel customers spend at least 10% more than single-channel consumers. 

You can use technology to create a seamless experience for omnichannel customers. Many stores now have their own app, allowing customers to track online purchases, check Click & Collect orders, and gain loyalty points. 

The internet offers round the clock customer service via social media and live-chat. Our Call Points help you to match this in store. Customers can press a Call Point and receive an immediate answer without having to wait for a colleague to find them. 

Read more about omnichannel shopping

Conversations with colleagues in store, facilitated by technology

Technology allows colleagues to communicate while keeping their distance. Our headsets provide immediate two-way communication without the need for tannoys or walkie talkies.

  • 18% of UK shoppers will only shop in stores that prioritise the safety of their employees. This means that your customers want to see colleagues following the same safety guidelines that they are.. 

Colleagues can use headsets to request information or check stock levels without compromising social distancing. 

You can also use headsets to keep colleagues up to date on the latest safety measures. Our message casting feature allows head office to send real-time updates to all colleagues, or to those in a particular store or region. 

Now is the time for retailers to start planning their recovery. By embracing technology in 2021, you can keep your customers happy and your profits healthy. 

From all of us at VoCoVo, have a happy new year!

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