Product personalisation to play a big part in the development of retail technology

The need of the consumer is constantly changing. As technology evolves, and the high street rushes to offer the latest innovations, the expectations of the customer have never been greater. Offering a flawless shopping experience has never been more essential for today’s retailer in their fight for survival.

Long behind us are the days when simply choosing from what’s on offer is deemed acceptable to the customer, instead they now expect a more personal experience than ever before, with a product offering that fits exactly to their needs. And although this may sound daunting, retailers certainly have the tools at their disposal to ensure this is the case. Product personalisation could be the perfect way to please today’s demanding customer, and technology will play a major part in making this work.

3D printing is a technological tool that is really starting to come of age, offering product personalisation in areas such as greeting cards, diaries, mouse mats, phone covers etc. It has really evolved over the last few years, to a point where professionally printed personalised products are now available at a similar price to un-personalised ones. The technology itself might not be new, but it is yet to be fully harnessed by the retail industry.

There is nothing more frustrating to a customer than failing to find the exact product they are after, and the concept behind 3D printing should be considered as a means to tackle the issue. Imagine entering a store, visiting a kiosk and altering a product to suit your needs – it’s an idea that would certainly place a retailer is a pretty good position on the high street. It’s been so difficult for traditional stores to compete with the popularity of online retail recently, and offering such a service could even the field.

For retailers looking at ways to provide a quicker, more convenient and a personalised store experience, 3D printing delivers just this.

Mobile is taking over retail as we know it

The use of mobile technology and applications in retail has exploded in 2013, which looks set to continue as an upward trend in 2014, the catalyst being that retailers can now use mobile devices in various ways to interact directly with customers to improve customer service and experience.

The technology and capabilities are ever expanding. From mobile PoS in store – connecting the in-store and online offering, to subtle up-sell messages sent via push-alerts, digital mobile coupons and gift vouchers, free WiFi in-store accessible via customers own mobile devices to applications that deliver rich product data and functionality.

What all of these mobile technologies have in common is that they enhance the customer service while delivering convenience, but most importantly, they provide the retailer with a means of tracking the customer journey and individual behaviour patterns, enabling retailers marketing outreach to be even more specific and targeted.

It is also helping to bridge those gaps in sales channel integration that even the cleverest of multichannel solutions have not been able to do up until this point, with the likes of Mobile PoS and free customer WiFi in store, linking the shop and online channels. Until now, online has operated as a standalone component, often with separate sales targets but mobile has changed this, enabling all channels to integrate.

Using mobile in retail will significantly contribute to an increase in sales over time, with customers that would have previously left a store empty handed due to lack of in-store stock, being able to complete an order then and there online via the mobile PoS or their own smart-phone device, for store or home delivery.

But, to achieve a successful mobile proposition, retailers first need to invest in a network that supports all of this technology. It’s also important to invest in training staff to understand the benefits of cross-selling, perhaps providing incentives for cross-channel sales that will ultimately increase profit margins.