Revitalising High Street Presence: Leveraging Payment Technology to Thrive in a Digital Era
As e-commerce continues to gain traction, traditional retailers are facing unprecedented challenges in maintaining their high street presence. The once-bustling shopping districts are now grappling with declining footfall and struggling businesses. However, all is not lost for brick-and-mortar stores. By embracing modern payment technologies and leveraging their unique advantages, retailers can rejuvenate their high street presence and create a shopping experience that seamlessly integrates the best of both online and offline worlds.
Understanding the High Street Dilemma High streets have long been the heart and soul of communities, offering a vibrant shopping experience, social interactions, and a sense of belonging. Yet, with the rise of e-commerce giants, such as Amazon, many consumers have turned to the convenience of online shopping.
To combat this trend, retailers must reimagine the high street and create an environment that encourages consumers to visit physical stores. Traditional retailers need to understand the evolving preferences and expectations of modern consumers. Today’s shoppers are tech-savvy, seeking convenience, personalisation, and seamless experiences across all channels. Understanding these changing dynamics is essential for brick-and-mortar stores to evolve and remain relevant in the digital era.
Redefining In-Store Experience
The key to revitalising high street presence lies in redefining the in-store experience. Shifting the focus from mere transactions to memorable experiences can draw customers back to physical stores. Retailers must aim to create an atmosphere that engages all the senses and provides something unique that online shopping cannot replicate.
One way to achieve this is by implementing immersive elements, such as augmented reality (AR) or virtual reality (VR) technology. These technologies allow shoppers to visualise products in their homes or try on virtual clothing, thereby bridging the gap between online and in-store experiences. For instance:
Example: IKEA introduced IKEA Place, an AR app for iPhone users, quickly amassing nearly 8.5 million downloads and becoming one of the most popular apps. The app allows customers to virtually place IKEA furniture in their homes, enabling them to accurately measure room dimensions (with 98% accuracy) and visualize how light and shadows impact furniture textures. With AR technology, the app has helped other furniture companies lower their return rates by 30%, leading to increased consumer retention and purchasing confidence. Notably, IKEA Place has also resulted in a 35% increase in sales conversion, 50% reduction in furniture returns, and higher overall customer satisfaction rates. Its widespread global adoption in over 60 countries showcases the value it brings to the shopping journey and its positive impact on sustainability by reducing unnecessary in-store visits and transportation-related emissions.
By leveraging technology and interactive displays, retailers can attract and retain customers seeking unique and engaging in-store experiences, boosting customer loyalty and satisfaction.
Seamless Integration of Online & Offline Channels
In today’s retail landscape, success relies on a unified commerce strategy, integrating online and offline channels. A modern POS system with omnichannel capabilities allows customers to make purchases from any channel, be it in-store, online, or via mobile devices, enhancing the shopping experience. For instance, customers can browse products online and pick them up in-store or make returns both online and in-store, catering to different preferences and encouraging a fluid shopping journey.
Example: Currys electrical retailer exemplifies this integration by trialling robots called ‘Kettybots’ in some UK stores. Kettybot utilizes AI technology to help customers navigate the product range. Customers can select the area they want to visit on a large touchscreen, and KettyBot will lead the way to find their desired products.
Integrating such technology with the online platform bridges the gap between online and offline channels. Customers can seamlessly continue their shopping journey from online research to in-store exploration with KettyBot’s assistance. This approach creates a cohesive and user-friendly shopping experience, promoting customer loyalty and competitiveness in the retail landscape.
Empowering Shoppers with Personalisation
Payment technology can play a significant role in enabling personalisation within physical stores. Retailers can leverage data from loyalty programs and customer profiles to offer tailored recommendations and discounts at the point of sale. By analysing past purchase history and preferences, retailers can create personalised product suggestions, thereby fostering a sense of connection between the brand and the consumer.
Example: A loyal customer who frequently purchases skincare products can be offered a discount on their favourite brand during checkout, encouraging repeat visits and brand loyalty. Moreover, personalised loyalty programs can provide exclusive perks and rewards, making customers feel valued and appreciated. One retailer that has successfully employed personalisation strategies is Poundland. The company announced recent price cuts as part of its cost-saving initiatives while also responding to overall inflation trends. With the cost of over 100 items slashed to £1, Poundland demonstrates how personalised pricing strategies can resonate with customers and instil confidence in the brand.
Utilising QR Codes for Engagement
QR codes have experienced a resurgence in popularity due to their ability to facilitate touchless interactions. Retailers can use QR codes to enhance customer engagement by providing additional product information, exclusive discounts, or links to join loyalty programs. Moreover, QR codes can be used as part of marketing campaigns to drive traffic to physical stores and create a more interactive shopping experience.
Example: Luxury retailers like Liberty have partnered with Klarna to offer Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) options through QR codes, catering to consumers’ preference for interest-free instalments when purchasing pricier items. By leveraging QR codes creatively, retailers can create a seamless link between the digital and physical realms, ultimately driving customer engagement and loyalty.
Implementing Mobile Wallet Loyalty Programs
Traditional loyalty programs that rely on physical cards can be cumbersome and prone to being forgotten or lost. By implementing mobile wallet loyalty programs, retailers can provide customers with a seamless and convenient way to access rewards and promotions directly from their smartphones. This approach encourages repeat visits and increases customer retention, as shoppers no longer need to carry physical cards to enjoy loyalty benefits.
Example: Frasers Group’s success in leveraging loyalty programs, alongside premium elevation strategies and lucrative acquisitions, showcases the potential impact of mobile wallet loyalty programs in securing a top spot in the UK fashion retail sector.
Leveraging Data Analytics for Business Insights
Payment technology generates a wealth of data that can be analysed to gain valuable insights into customer behaviour and preferences. Retailers can use this data to optimise product assortments, store layouts, and marketing strategies. For instance, Next’s forecasted solid performance over the next five years is attributed to its data-driven approach, which includes an acquisitive strategy and third-party growth initiatives. By analysing data, retailers can anticipate trends, identify popular products, and create targeted marketing campaigns to resonate with their target audience.
In conclusion to revitalise high street presence, retailers must embrace modern payment tech, create immersive experiences, and merge online and offline channels. By leveraging technologies like AR, interactive displays, and digital signage, retailers can engage customers in-person. Unified commerce, personalisation, and contactless payments are essential for catering to modern shoppers. QR codes can enhance engagement and loyalty, while data analytics helps make informed decisions. By adapting, innovating, and embracing technology, traditional retailers can thrive in the digital era and remain the heartbeat of their communities.
Incorporating these suggestions will provide readers with a more comprehensive understanding of the topic and offer practical examples of successful implementations of payment technology in the retail industry.