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More local, more often: supermarkets must change with the times - part2

retail

As consumer habits change, the top chains are losing the battle for market share, but technology can help to keep shoppers happy

Here are some other changes the retailers have to make to bring their retail stores into conformity with today's fashion

Changes in staff persona

Staff adoption of technology is also key to providing a seamless experience for shoppers. Supermarkets are now dealing with knowledgeable customers who have researched what they want to buy before they browse in-store. Data could be used by staff to notify who their customers are and what they are looking for. With the rise of smaller convenience stores, we are going back to the shopkeeping persona of yesteryear: your shopkeeper would greet you by your first name, ask about the family, while knowing exactly what you came into buy.

Morrisons is close to replicating this community-led spirit with its marketplace that includes a specialist butcher, baker and fishmonger. Even though this is hard to achieve with the larger, multinational supermarkets, technology could be a big advantage. For instance, a screen could display a customer’s name as they enter or pay for an item, enabling staff to greet them. Alternatively, a staff member could be armed with a tablet and offer advice on recipes and meal suggestions. It is these subtle ways that enable larger supermarkets to still have a personable feel to their customer experience.

Understanding customers

Supermarkets are already gaining a lot of insight from customers through big data, but it’s the smaller details that help to offer a unique, personalized experience. With smaller retailers able to pick up on individual shopper preferences far easier than the big four, it’s new technologies that can help supermarkets become more personalized. Using the right data, beacons (positioned beacons that can alert personal devices when in range) can be used in-store to inform each shopper of personalized deals with suggestions to accompany the items they have already picked up. Targeted mobile notifications could be sent to suggest wine to go with cheese, for example, or accompanying items to complete dinner party recipes. Deals are there to be struck with the modern convenience shopper and data needs to be used wisely by retailers to influence the emotions of shoppers who are likely to make quick decisions as they browse.

Locating items

The classic supermarket layout is a daunting prospect for today’s shoppers, who spend less time in supermarkets and tend to go to more places to find a quick deal. The answer could be in changing the supermarket layout. Aldi has only six aisles on average compared to 30 in most supermarkets. To ease the shopping experience further, a downloadable mobile app could help shoppers complete shopping lists by guiding them through the stores. Everyone with a smartphone emits a wireless signal, so directions to items could speed up the shopping process.

I have a vision that in 20 years, customers will be able to pick up items, have them captured as they enter the trolley, and simply press yes or no to confirm their shopping as they go through a gate at the store’s exit. As convenience stores and discounters claim their market share, supermarkets need to strive to provide a seamless experience in all areas of the store to remain competitive. This means going back to basics with convenient, efficient but friendly shopkeeping, with technology an important part of making this a reality.

 Compiled in Editorial Board of Retailiran

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