What's Hot this Holiday Season?
Omni-channel is where it’s at, but how do you take it to the next level during this holiday shopping season? While some retailers might still be catching up to now-common services like Find/Pickup In Store and Same Day Delivery, (which are essentials at this point), there’s a lot to be applied that’s new. We took a look at some of the biggest retailers and how they’re applying the latest technical trends this season.
From searching with pictures, to paying with your phone, here’s what’s hot for holiday shoppers in 2014.
Power In The Palm of Your Hand
Mobile payment is swiftly gaining interest from customers as a point-of-sale convenience that’s both fast and simple. Apple Pay is leading the way with a simplified interface that streamlines the point-of-sale process. Macy’s and Bloomingdale's are among the big brands incorporating Apple Pay this holiday season.
In-Store Gurus Are Your On-Site Shopping Sherpas
The shopping season can leave customers feeling overwhelmed with the bevy of selections, especially where the latest toys and games are concerned. This year, Toys “R” Us is introducing their G.P.S. (Guru for Play Stuff) who are there to offer advice on the latest educational toys or must-have video game. An in-store Guru can remove the stress of shopping for busy parents, and allow them to get in and out of the store with the right purchase with minimal stress.
Kill Long Lines With Hand-Held Devices
Incorporating hand-held point-of-sale devices and tablets will improve the in-store shopping experience by allowing your sales force to engage with customers freely, offer product suggestions, and expedite transactions to eliminate some of the bottleneck that can occur at registers. Hand-held point-of-sale is currently being explored by Macy’s and Gap Inc.
Like a BOSS: Buy Online & Ship from Store
BOSS allows retailers to optimize their inventory resulting in fewer markdown and optimized delivery time. Without BOSS, very few retailers can guarantee delivery in one or two days to more than 90% of their customers. BOSS is currently being implemented by the likes of American Eagle and Gap Inc.
Follow that Toy!
Another Toys “R” Us case study, the busy toy retailer is utilizing digital in-store maps, accessed through a customer’s smartphone, that takes them directly to whatever they are looking for. Upon entry into the store, a customer scans a QR code, which reveals a digital map that allows them to search for their specific product and discover special holiday offers. Beginning November 24 and spanning until December 1st, the Toys “R” Us digi-maps will point customers to Black Friday deals, leading them to specific in-story areas boasting new limited-time offers quicky.
Express Lanes Speed Up In-Store Traffic
Toys “R” Us is pulling a note from grocery stores and introducing an “Express Lane” for small purchases of one or two items. In addition, associates will also pre-scan larger carts in line, resulting a barcode that can be handed to the cashier for a faster checkout experience.
Reverse Image Search Connects Wants with Inventory
When a customer is coveting a particular look or product they see in their daily life, they can now connect that desire to their shopping experience, by snapping a photo then using it to search similar products in app or on a retailer's website. Image search is currently being explored by Macy’s.
iBeacon – A Location-Based Deal Solution
Macy’s will be experimenting with a mobile location-based innovation built on Apple’s iBeacon Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE). Distributed throughout the store, the iBeacon allows mobile app users to get department-specific deals, discounts, recommendations, and rewards.
Fit Smarter Not Harder
Retailers like Bloomingdale’s are introducing smart fitting rooms, with wall-mounted devices which allow customers to tap for sales associate assistant without leaving the room, or view other sizes/colors in stock. THe smart rooms can also suggest items to complete the outfit, get product ratings/reviews, and additional information.
Chat It Out with Instant Online Help
While many customers will be braving the crowds on Black Friday, many will will be opting to avoid them in front of the computer at home. It’s there that retailers like Toys “R” Us will offer instant help via the website, where experts can provide real-time advice and suggestions. Their online gift finder also lets customers sift and search for gifts according to age and interest.
Online Layaway Combats the Stress of Tight Budgets with Convenience
Toys “R” Us will also be limiting consumer stress by offering free online layaway, allowing them to make easy monthly payments online or in-store and avoiding the usual $5 down payment. After being paid off, items can conveniently be delivered to a customer’s doorstep or picked up at any location.
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