The retail industry is more competitive than ever before, and every advantage counts when the loyalty of customers is at stake. Both chain and independent stores need to stay one step ahead of the technology curve in order to control costs, maximize sales and drive the bottom line.
These 10 gadgets are already being used in retail operations around the world, so your business simply can't afford to be without them.
1. The Portable Printer
A portable printer allows a retail business owner to change promotions, prices and customer messages quickly, without the need for a third-party service. You can create stickers, business cards, coupons and labels in minutes -- giving your customers exactly what they want before any of your competitors do.
2. An Internet-Enabled Security Camera
Carefully placed security cameras not only help you to identify thieves, they give your staff and customers peace of mind. The latest cameras are relatively cheap and easy to install, and they can be operated from anywhere in the World with an internet connection. Many cameras come with a mobile app, which can be used to change the surveillance area, create smaller clips and improve image quality.
3. A Barcode Scanner
It doesn't matter how large or small your retail business is, a good barcode scanner allows you to manage inventory and process sales as quickly as possible. Cordless scanners allow you to stocktake with ease, as well as process transactions from different locations in your store.
4. A Tablet Computer for Backroom Operations
Modern backroom operations in retail stores need to be fast, accurate and user-friendly. The addition of a tablet computer to a storeroom is essential for the smooth checking-in of deliveries. There are several tablets designed specifically for backroom operations, which include technologies such as an NFC reader, front and rear cameras and RFID. Choose something with a solid case, as the chances of dropping a tablet in backroom areas is high.
5. Augmented Reality Software
Augmented reality is capable of showing customers what their new purchases will look like once they're in position. Kitchen retailers and interior design companies use this software to give their customers a sneak peek at exactly how their purchase will look once it has been fitted. If the customer isn't happy with certain aspects of the final design, changes can be made in seconds.
6. TV Window Signage
The window space in any store is extremely valuable. Displaying relevant items in a natural and eye-catching way in the window of a retail store is a crucial part of attracting passing trade and inspiring impulse purchases. However, all too often, there simply isn't enough window space for all the products a business wants to display. The addition of HDTVs and dedicated video signage ensures that different products can be displayed at regular intervals. This technology can also be used to communicate the store's latest offers and discounts.
Swivl is a device that can be used to record product demonstrations for retail customers. Used in conjunction with a smartphone, Swivl allows you to pivot your mobile device to record the area in which you place the pointer. There is also a powerful, built-in microphone which allows you to narrate your demonstrations to give customers as much information as possible.
8. Portable Credit Card Scanner
So many of us have become accustomed to shopping online in a matter of seconds. However, this level of speed and convenience is difficult to replicate in brick-and-mortar stores. But you can give your customers a slightly better experience by taking payments for goods and services around the store. Whether your customers are waiting in line or browsing a department, allowing them to pay by card without waiting for a cashier to become available is great for both customer service and sales.
9. The Flapit Counter
Retail businesses are always looking for ways to bring their brick-and-mortar operations and their online presence together for the good of the customer. The Flapit Counter does just that -- giving in-store customers a reminder that the business has a major presence on social media.
The physical counter is simply plugged into an electrical outlet and connected to the Flapit network via Wi-Fi. The business can then display the number of social media followers they have to their brick-and-mortar customers. Flapit also links to customer smartphones, encouraging them to "follow" or "like." The system works in real time, and is compatible with Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram and many other social networks.
A growing number of brick-and-mortar stores are giving their customers the opportunity to shop digitally. Instead of standing in line, for example, a customer can use a touchscreen to buy make a purchase; the item can be picked up at the exit. Touchscreens allow customers to check availability, reserve items and browse product catalogs. Used effectively, in-store touchscreens can also be used to grow social media followings and communicate special offers.
Your retail business can improve customer service, control costs and drive sales by embracing the latest technology before your competitors do. These ten technological must-haves should make your store more welcoming and profitable than ever.
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