How can retailers keep customers in store and engaged?

With recent figures confirming that retail footfall rose 1.6% year-on-year in January, its best performance since December 2011, how do retailers keep customers in store once they have taken the time to step inside?

Figures released by the BRC show that shopping centre footfall grew by an impressive 2.4% in the month of January, with shoppers coming in their droves to avoid the rain and no doubt cheer themselves up with a bit of shopping.

Whilst this is good news, retailers can’t rely solely on the weather to boost sales. They need to find ways to entice shoppers to make a purchase once in store, delivering an unforgettable experience that they will want to have again and again.

Whilst the promise of free WiFi and the use of mobile PoS is an enabler to get staff interacting more with customers – improving customer service and increasing sales, can such offers deliver the same impact across all sectors and retailers with varying target audiences?

It was recently uncovered at NRF that 18 – 35 year olds, known as the ‘millennial generation’ are not as impressed with the stereotypical in store service, as some may think.  What this generation crave is for retailers to be both inventive and joined up with their offering, with the expectation for store staff to be helpful and knowledgeable.

However, retailers need to consider their entire target audience, not just this one group. One thing all customers have in common is the desire for a better shopping experience, but individual needs differ, so achieving a balance of innovative technology and in store services that cater for all needs is imperative.

Payments in an omnichannel world

The payments industry has seen many innovational developments over last few years, from mobile payments to contactless transactions and the mobile wallet – providing the consumer with a plethora of ways to pay. But which of these should retailers look to adopt? And where do they start when considering payments across their many channels?

The real issue is that after cash, credit and debit cards, and to a degree PayPal, none of the other payment types are really ubiquitous – or at least they aren’t yet. Retailers face the problem of not knowing which technology to invest in. Get it right and you have a head start on your competitors, get it wrong and at best the investment capital is wasted, at worst you have lost ground on your competitors.

A survey by Lightspeed Research reports that 59% of today’s customers are the omnichannel customers of the future. These consumers were broken-down into three categories, including: value-focused followers, data-hungry tech enthusiasts and tech-savvy social shoppers. To empower and influence these customers into shopping in the store environment, retailers must ask themselves two questions. How will new and emerging technologies affect customers? How will the retailer be able to support these initiatives?

Mobile point of sale (POS) is a key enabler of omni-channel functionality. Mobile POS allows the customer to conveniently research options, search for deals and check out without going to a central POS. It also empowers store staff to assist the customer while they are considering a purchase, delivering product information and the capability to check stock and place an online order if an item is out of stock. These aspects of mobile POS demonstrate the retailer’s commitment to customer satisfaction.

Being able to securely report on data from all sales channels, without any PCI implications also starts to open up the possibility of building customer loyalty profiles – with insight into who a customer is, where, when and which channels they shop via. This scenario will enable retailers to be a lot more targeted with their service offering, adapting to meet the needs of the omnichannel consumer.