Digital transformation is changing every aspect of the retail industry in Canada. New technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and automation, virtual or augmented reality, and predictive data analytics are revolutionizing everything from inventory management to the checkout process.
One of the biggest challenges for many retail business owners is deciding which technologies offer the greatest benefit. Retailers should consider the following:
1. Assess your automation opportunities
Your business may not need an inventory robot or automated warehouse, but automation can help you streamline your operations. Review your problem areas and customer pain points to determine where to start.
2. Implement beacon technology
Beacons can drive sales and engagement by sending personalized deals, recommendations, or store guides to Bluetooth-enabled smartphones. To build your beacon strategy, choose the customer experience you want to deliver — be that product discoverability or store wayfinding — and invest in hiring and training the right staff to help you carry it out.
3. Optimize e-commerce
Upgrading (or implementing) an e-commerce platform can help you reach new customers who prefer online shopping. It also allows retailers to provide a curated shopping experience by moving some products online and offering a tailored in-store selection.
4. Activate augmented reality (AR)
While not cheap, AR apps can have powerful dividends. Augmented reality allows customers to interact with your product and your brand on a deeper level and, in some cases, feel more secure about their purchase. Retailers who integrate AR with their overall business strategy stand to generate strong ROI in terms of buzz, sales, and retention.
5. Put your data to good use
Predictive data analytics combined with a strong CRM (customer relationship management) program can help retailers forecast customer behaviours and purchase patterns. That information can help define product development, marketing campaigns, and overall business strategy.
6. Evaluate your cybersecurity
Rather than an afterthought, cybersecurity should be fully integrated at every point of your business plan. All technology, from inventory management to mobile apps, should be updated regularly and fully compliant with privacy standards and legislation.