Recently, a retail store owner asked me the following question:
What tips can you offer to a retail store not yet quite ready for ecommerce? We realize we eventually need to embrace ecommerce. We have a few local stores and a WordPress website and will eventually try to sell online. For now, we are first trying to digitize our operations as bridge to full ecommerce.
As it is a common situation for 'old economy' mom and pop stores, here are a few tips I would offer.
The first gadget that every retail store needs are barcode scanners, as they make many processes much more efficient. The first way it makes things more efficient is by tracking the location of products, and since barcodes can record and transfer information faster and more accurately
Another benefit that they provide is saving time during stocktaking, or inventory. Many retail stores will need to use all of their employees over a weekend, or worse, during retailer hours. With the use of barcode scanners, this can be done in a matter of hours by a handful of employees. Novatron has good options for barcode scanners that are reasonably priced. In-Store Smartphone Aided Buying
I’d also recommend allowing your customer to use their smartphones in various aspects of day-to-day operations. There are so many different ways that smartphones can enhance the buyer’s experience.
In China for example, Hema, opened a supermarket that included the use of smartphones to not only get more information about products, but to also let customers make payments.
Lush did something similar, allowing customers to scan both bombs to get more information and be presented with a video to show what they will look like when used. Digital assistants
This might sound like something out a sci-fi movie, but imagine being able to control various aspects of your store, such as climate control, lighting, and music using voice commands. That is now possible when using digital assistants like Amazon Echo or Alexa.
One thing that is better than writing a to-do list down is asking your digital assistant to do those things for you as you work, such as order a certain product, or give you a reminder of when tasks need to be or which tasks need to be done. Cashierless shops
Amazon Go Store: Image Credit: SuperMarketNews
As mentioned above, there are stores in the world that are now making the purchase of goods much easier for customers by allowing them to bypass the queues and cashiers completely.
Amazon Go led the way in the US and WeChat has various QR-based apps that are in use in the Chinese market. I believe Amazon licenses their technology to other stores.
There are even stores, such as Zippin, that allow customers to quite literally grab the things they need and then walk out, using a variety of methods, such as overhead cameras and QR codes. This is the experience that many shoppers want, and it is fast approaching. Smart Pickup lockers
A smart pickup locker. Image Credit: BellHowell.net
Something that frustrates many customers is ordering something online, going to the physical store to pick it up, waiting in a queue and then verifying the purchase. For many, this seems pretty similar to actually having gone to the store anyway, so why bother with purchasing it online?
Why not offer pickup lockers? The best ones are designed to house many different products, and are synced to apps that will give them access to their product after scanning the verification code on the app. Vending machines
Other Stories Perfume Vending Machine. Image Credit: HMGroup.com
Similar to unmanned stores are vending machines. Picture a customer walking into your store but being in a rush. They would have to search through the different aisles to find the product they need which is time consuming. The use of vending machines can significantly reduce the time a shopper spends in store.
This technology is already being implemented at a variety of stores, including Fashion brand & Other Stories, where shoppers were given the opportunity to browse through the interactive vending machine that offers detailed product information, as well as the ability to pay there and then. Get a WooCommerce POS Plugin
Lastly, as you are already running a WordPress site, get WooCommerce installed. Along with it, also a WooCommerce POS (Point of Sale) plugin to track your inventory levels and synchronize it with online orders once you start accepting them.