What’s in store for stores in 2015? 3 retail game changers

Retail never stays still – if anything, it’s moving faster than ever. This year alone, we’ve seen growing adoption of click and collect and contactless payments, to name two examples. But what will be the major influences changing retailer/consumer relationships in 2015?

In our final blog of 2014, we’re looking towards the year ahead – and predicting what’s in store for retail stores next year. Here are our top 3 most influential trends:

  1. There will be more devices in the store

From mPOS tablets being operated by sales associates, to mobiles being utilised by consumers to showroom, digital touch points will become an even greater part of the store experience. This will place additional strain on retailers’ data networks.

Those who triumph will offer reliable connections for staff and robust complimentary WiFi connections for the customer.

  1. Technology will personalise store shopping

We touched on the store becoming a theatre of dreams in a blog post earlier this year, and this trend will most certainly continue into 2015.

Technology such as near field communication (NFC) and Bluetooth beacons, are already being piloted by major retailers like John Lewis and House of Fraser; this points towards in-store interactivity dominating next year’s marketing and customer service agenda.

  1. Reputations will thrive or dive on payment security

With more consumers than ever using credit and debit cards to pay for goods, data breaches could prove devastating to retailers’ reputations. From June 30th 2015, businesses accepting card payments will need to meet PCI DSS v3 standards.

As a result, the race will be on to upgrade current payment solutions and reduce scope for PCI compliance before legislation comes into force.

For further information about payments security in 2015, visit the Payments Network, our online community for retailers and hospitality vendors.

Are retailers failing to get the most from their public Wi-Fi?

From coffee shops and hotels to shopping centres and retail outlets, so many businesses offer free Wi-Fi access nowadays that customers have come to expect it as part of the everyday shopping experience. This isn’t something that should be driven by public demand though – with up to 70% of consumers in-store carrying a Wi-Fi enabled device in their pocket, it’s the capture of your customers data via the network that has huge profit potential.

Offering a secure and reliable Wi-Fi connection is only part of the puzzle. Most retailers and hospitality providers are currently just using free Wi-Fi as a customer lure, when they could be engaging with those users to create new marketing leads and increase sales.

There are many ways in which you can begin a dialogue with customers using Wi-Fi services, such as requiring them to enter basic personal information in order to log on. This allows you to build up a profile of your customer database, allowing you to contact them with targeted special offers to encourage repeat business.

Alternatively, you could ask users to like your Facebook page or mention your location on Twitter in return for Wi-Fi access, which many consumers prefer as it’s less time consuming than filling out details. Once they’ve logged on, directing them to a branded homepage featuring special offers is another powerful way to generate revenue and market your services.

Establishing these communication channels is just the first step; the real value is extracted by developing long-term digital relationships with your customers. This should be done by continuing a dialogue using techniques such as push notifications, exclusive promotions and loyalty discounts.

Most importantly, retailers must strike the right balance of communication when using these services as not to overwhelm the customer.  When delivered in a targeted, timely and relevant manner, it will strengthen their attachment to your brand and increase their individual value to your business, promoting loyalty and driving sales. 

Could an online offering in store revive the high street?

It’s now very clear that integrating the convenience of online services with the in store experience is a winning combination and could well be the answer to a high street that is currently under threat. Click & Collect services alone have been shown to contribute to incremental sales, as customers who come to pick up purchased goods then buy more in store. Vodat investigates the online tech that will transform high street shopping…

Free customer WiFi in store

Encouraging customers to interact with the store or brand via the network whilst in store brings with it a plethora of benefits. Retailers can identify customers that shop in store and capture data on customer shopping behaviours across channels. This data can be used to understand how individual customers chose specific channels to browse and others to purchase, looking into details such as how and what they like to buy. As a result, marketing can become more targeted to customer’s wants and needs, driving loyalty and in turn sales.

MPoS in store

Mobile PoS in store enables customers to search the entire product range whether it’s stocked in that store or not, so if the desired merchandise isn’t available in the correct colour or size it can be searched for online via a tablet device and ordered then and there, resulting in a satisfied customer and secured sale.

Click & collect services

Click & collect has become an in demand customer service and as a result widely adopted by retailers. It delivers the ultimate convenience in deciding when and where customers can collect their purchase, as opposed to waiting around for hours on end for the delivery man to arrive or having to make a trip to the local post depot.

Customers like the ease at which they can search for, browse and compare products online, but they like the experience of visiting a store to view and try products before buying. It’s a win-win situation.

All of this technology is underpinned by the in store network. For which a professional and scalable WiFi solution is required, capable of managing multiple devices, rich functionality and spikes in data traffic, whilst keeping private data separate from guest access for obvious security purposes – however both should be managed on the one network to reduce the complexity and cost of running multiple networks.