Consumer interaction is at the forefront of technology as e-commerce and other advances make purchasing easier in brick-and-mortar stores as well as quicker and safer online. Consumers are no longer browsing online and wondering if making a purchase is worth the risk. Today, thanks to the latest technology, most online purchases are made from mobile devices while the customer is on the go. They can compare prices, find alternative outlets, find stores in their locality, get coupons, and much more. Businesses also benefit: Online marketing lets a business build its brand almost overnight.
Today’s technology has also advanced better products for home security. You can unlock your door with a fingerprint, turn on your lights, sprinklers, heating, or air conditioning with your smartphone from apps made by companies like as Nortek security and control. You can even see who is ringing your doorbell at home while you’re at the office.
The field of education is growing fast through technology, from the ABCs to advanced college lectures that are available in educational videos for anyone who can access them online. Now the use of virtual reality animation video is becoming increasingly common for presentations and speakers to better engage with their audience. Learning can take place anywhere at any time. If you need an example of how to fix a broken kitchen pipe or stitch a seam, no problem. Just look online for a demonstration video.
Technology may have had a big impact on shopping because it is something everyone does at some time or other. Businesses can reach customers anywhere using mobile apps and customers can use apps to access a retailer’s inventory at any time of the day or night.
Customer service standards have risen to great heights through technology. Business can instantly respond to customer’s requests including tracking products, returns, and refunds. Most companies now have an app for your phone or tablet that can completely manage their product but also put you in direct communication with someone at the business for assistance. If a customer is not satisfied, he or she can send the message over social media and have an almost instantaneous negative impact on the company.
The opposite is also true. Positive comments and testimonials can be shared on social media and open thousands of new doors for the business. Real-time chats on a website have become essential for many consumers. They want their questions answered yesterday and do not want to wait for an email or bother with a phone call. Research shows that visitors who have a good experience on a website tend to make purchases.
Brick and mortar businesses are not left out. Several technological advances have made the in-store experience much better than just 10 years ago. Shoppers still love the in-store experience especially at seasonal times like for summer vacations and winter holidays. Here are a few ways in which technology has improved the consumer’s experience:
- When you are in a store, beacons can alert your smartphone to discounts and coupons but they can also be used to personalize a shopper’s experience by helping them find items in the store and recognizing loyal customers.
- Smart-shelf technology allows retailers and manufacturers to scan a shelf to instantly know the inventory or detect a theft. Prices can be changed in real time so customers get the latest discounts and updated prices. Manufacturers may be able to automatically detect when a store is running low on an item and automatically send it.
- Virtual reality is being used by furniture and design stores to allow customers to see a 3D rendering of a kitchen, bathroom or other renovation before they make a purchase. Customers can choose the items they want and enter a special room where the can see how the items will look in their home. This may also be used to try on clothing in the comfort of your own home. Customers can mix and match items with their measurements until they find what they want and then purchase it because it is guaranteed to fit.
- Retail apps allow consumers to track inventory in a store, see if their size is available. You do not need your cash. Just pay for items using the retail app and get special promotions and discounts.
One of the main achievements of technology in the marketplace is its advantage for small businesses. They can now compete with big box stores because through social media and other Internet marketing strategies, they can reach a huge clientele including an international market in some cases.
Technology can give a small business virtual office services such as a call center, real-time chat on their website, administrative services that keep the business running smoothly while the owner does what he or she loves best, growing the business. The world is just beginning to see the advancements and advantages of technology for consumers.
For more on technology in the retail industry, see Will AI And Machine Learning Spell The End Of Retail As We Know It?