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Improving shopping experiences through connectivity

Improving shopping experiences through connectivity

By Jarek Matschey, Retail Practice Lead, EMEA, Juniper Networks

Improving shopping experiences through connectivity

Jarek Matschey

The retail landscape is under increasing pressure thanks to runaway inflation, supply chain issues and warnings of recession and stagnant growth. Compared with the same period in previous years, more than six in ten adults are now spending less on non-essentials because of the cost of living crisis. The increased price of utilities has meant that retailers are often battling to deliver a good deal and more emphasis is being placed on providing an exceptional customer experience to gain a competitive advantage. 

Further to this, consumer shopping behaviours rely on e-commerce more than ever before, much of which is underpinned by digital solutions and IT networking infrastructure, including automation. Retailers need to ensure that the technology and digital services they’re investing in have a two-fold benefit of driving revenue and delighting consumers on their shopping journeys, no matter where they are.

The Technologically Advanced Shopping Trip

Every aspect of the shopping experience requires connectivity, from in-store Wi-Fi through to device monitoring and security. Without exceptional connectivity, a floor employee wouldn’t be able to check stock levels for a customer, queues at the tills would be lengthy and consumers wouldn’t feel confident to conduct transactions through a retailer’s website. This not only enhances a shopper’s experience, but also improves the job satisfaction of employees, giving them access to the right tools, data and insights required to be ambassadors to the brand. 

In 2022, 69% of total online purchases were made on a mobile device, suggesting that mobile-led shopping experiences are now preferred by consumers. Some of the ways that consumers are leveraging mobile technology in-store include checking product reviews online, accessing coupons or personalised offers and paying using digital wallets in the store. All of which wouldn’t be possible without a reliable and stable internet connection.

On top of in-store mobile enablement, retailers are trialling additional technology innovations to enhance the shopping experience. H&M offered shoppers a trial of 3D body scanners in two of its German stores as a way to virtually try on clothes without the hassle of the traditional changing room experience. GAP has also invested in virtual try-on technology. M&S recently experimented with augmented reality with the launch of its first virtual influencer, Mira. The use of AR and VR on the shop floor is becoming a common way for retailers to enhance a shopper’s experience and enable a level of personalisation that customers have come to expect.      

Personalised Beyond Price

Consumers are becoming increasingly price-sensitive due to the burgeoning cost of living, so the ideal personalised shopping experience requires a data sharing strategy between online and in-store retailers to deliver timely promotions and offers. As a result, retailers are implementing more technology to support digital shopping via cameras, sensors and other IoT devices, all of which need connections to local networks to be able to collect data and transform it into actionable insights. These insights also drive automated operations to facilitate personalisation. In a retail environment, this materialises in the form of click-and-collect offerings, whereby retailers can provide automated delivery options upon customer arrival to a shop. No signing in or text messaging. The wireless network detects the individual onsite through their personalised account, further automating the checkout process.

Factoring in location-based services, customers can get personalised and differentiated experiences as they move throughout stores. Retailers can enrich the data pulled from location-based services in pursuit of a “single view of the customer”. They can add demographics or market data. Additionally, they can include first-party data, such as purchase history, loyalty status or communications with customer support. All of this to ensure that consumers experience the convenience they’ve come to expect, which has become one of the main customer experience benchmarks. Retailers must be able to combine customer experience (CX) and retail omnichannel engagement with mobile technology and retail application usage. This enables the seamless sharing of information throughout the customer journey.

Networks and Frictionless Shopping

Due to various pain points, it has never been more important for retailers to get ahead to win more customers. As well as competing for revenue, they are also vying for customer loyalty and attention. Therefore, the quality of experience that is provided, whether online or in-store, is paramount. As the proliferation of IoT devices in stores continues, automation should be implemented on a significant scale which will require smarter networking technology. Having the right Wi-Fi and AI-powered networks not only equates to revenue growth, but also employee productivity and a frictionless shopping experience for consumers across multiple shopping channels.

Global Banking & Finance Review


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