Use of Technology for Managing Store Operations and Improving Shopping Experience

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The advancements in technology and growth of internet usage among customers worldwide has urged retailers to use smart technologies to keep pace with changing market needs and latest developments.

These days, customers expect from retailers more than ever before (Lynch & Barnes, 2020); and thus, it has become vital for retail companies to exploit the technology in different means to go forward and shape the future of their businesses (Grewal, Motyka, & Levy, (2018). As customers revisit certain retail stores, they have different expectations for their shopping experiences. Moreover, online shopping has increased in the recent years, particularly due to the uncertain emergence of COVID 19 pandemic and adoption of various protocols by governments worldwide to ensure the health and safety of their citizens. These uncertain periods have resulted in newfound innovation as retailers reassess their day to day operations and capitalize on technology in order to adjust to their new normal, manage their operations effectively, and improve customer shopping experience.

There are different ways to which technology can be used for managing store operations. For instance, the point of sale system (POS) is one of the important touchpoints where retail store visitors pay money, in exchange for some products or services. A retail POS system refers to any technology that includes a software in which a retail transaction is recorded (Rankin, 2022). It provides different capabilities, for instance printing a receipt, scanning a barcode or making a purchase order. Other characteristics of POS cover sales’ reporting, inventory management, and analytics (Rankin, 2022). The POS software further enables retailers to cultivate strong relationships with customers through providing different tools to customer relationship management (CRM).

Another way to exploit technology in retail stores includes contactless shopping. Among the prominent technologies that are experiencing newfound popularity are self-checkouts and contactless mobile payments (Coombs, 2020). They have been recently used in various retail stores to improve service efficiency and provide alternative solutions to customers. Retailers who focus on utilizing different ways for providing contactless shopping enable them to respond to customers’ needs in order to enhance their in-store experience and comfort while shopping. By using self-checkout machines, retailers can also reduce the number of staff required to provide customer service (Johnson, Kiser, & Woolridge, 2021). Customers will also have the advantage to buy products on their own terms without any necessity to wait for a staff to be free for providing help.

Some retail stores have also relied on new cleaning practices after the emergence of COVID-19 pandemic. This is because retail firms were instructed to follow government protocols and ensure the health and safety of store visitors. Several retailers have turned to using self-cleaning robots in order to make sure that their physical stores remain clean all the time and to help their staff as they support customers (Coombs, 2020). Through minimizing the time they spent on frequent cleaning tasks, the associates of the store can pay more attention to customers. In general, retailer stores that strictly follow the cleaning practices will ensure the safety and health of their visitors and staff.

eCommerce expansion is another option for retailers to improve customer experience and respond to changing market needs. The evolvement of eCommerce represents a key trend that has grown due to the emergence of coronavirus (Nanda, Xu, & Zhang, 2021). Large retailers like Carrefour, Target, Amazon, and Walmart have obtained substantial benefits from the quick shift to eCommerce throughout the pandemic. In particular, the rise of digital renovation is focused around mobile app and one seamless website that will offer customers different ways for shopping and ordering deliveries easily. Retailers can benefits through connecting with customers and updating them about latest offerings and promotions from time to time to enhance their lifetime values and secure brand loyalty.

Moreover, chatbots technology can be used in the retail context to provide the desired support for customers. Chatbots are an artificial intelligence-powered technology used to engage in conversation with customers via the internet (Rese, Ganster, & Baier, 2020). They can be exploited through live chat agents to respond to customers’ questions, deliver quick customer support, and upsell goods virtually—24/7. The bots in retail stores can deal with simple customers’ requests, such as order tracking, product suggestions, and answers to FAQ (Rese et al., 2020). They act as personal shopping assistant to your online customers.

Another important way in which technology can be used to manage store operations includes radio frequency identification (RFID) reader/ scanner RFID reader. It is a device designed mainly to gather information from an RFID tag and track individual items (Nikola, Schulz, & Ivanochko, 2021). Retailers can take advantage of RFID technology for tracking their inventory throughout the store supply chain, from the shelves in warehouse all the way to the sales floor (Atkins, Sener, & Russo, 2021). Retailers can affix RFID tag to keep track of different tools, equipment’s, assets, individuals, or other objects. RFID tag can be read if passed closer to a reader, even though it is covered by the object or not visible.

Finally, retail stores can use the order management system (OMS) for tracking orders, sales, inventory, and order fulfillment (Sousa et al., 2021). Through this system, retailers can receive and perceives necessary information from all points of sale (e.g. online and physical stores). In other words, retailer can get all desired information about a customer, including past orders, his/ her lifetime value, and existing location. Advanced OMSs consider the entire supply chain as an interconnected ecosystem, allowing retailers to automate their in-house processes from order to fulfillment. In addition to that, the OMS can be used for research proposes and obtaining important insight about shoppers.

On whole, the technological advancements along with the growth of internet usage and emergence of mobile applications have enabled service providers in retail sector to provide unique experiences for customers and effectively manage their store operations. Among the prominent technologies that can be used by retailers include price check scanners, card reader machines, vehicle detection sensors, car park ticket machine, pay station (for parking), digital escalator, QR code reader, surveillance camera, vending machines, mobile app, touch screen self-service machine, facial recognition attendance system, and automatic door system.

References

Atkins, R., Sener, A., & Russo, J. (2021). A simulation for managing retail inventory flow using RFID and bar code technology. Decision Sciences Journal of Innovative Education19(3), 214-223.

Coombs, C. (2020). Will COVID-19 be the tipping point for the intelligent automation of work? A review of the debate and implications for research. International Journal of Information Management55, 102182.

Grewal, D., Motyka, S., & Levy, M. (2018). The evolution and future of retailing and retailing education. Journal of Marketing Education40(1), 85-93.

Johnson, V. L., Kiser, A., & Woolridge, R. W. (2021). Factors affecting coproduction resentment within a self-checkout environment. Journal of Computer Information Systems61(6), 529-538.

Lynch, S., & Barnes, L. (2020). Omnichannel fashion retailing: examining the customer decision-making journey. Journal of Fashion Marketing and Management: An International Journal24(3), 471-493.

Nanda, A., Xu, Y., & Zhang, F. (2021). How would the COVID-19 pandemic reshape retail real estate and high streets through acceleration of E-commerce and digitalization?. Journal of Urban Management10(2), 110-124.

Nikola, G., Schulz, K., & Ivanochko, I. (2021). Use of RFID Technology in Retail Supply Chain. In Developments in Information & Knowledge Management for Business Applications (pp. 555-587). Springer, Cham.

Rankin, S. (2022). What Is POS Software and Why Do Retailers Need It?, Accessed on 2 December, 2022 from: https://www.shopify.com/retail/pos-software.

Rese, A., Ganster, L., & Baier, D. (2020). Chatbots in retailers’ customer communication: How to measure their acceptance?. Journal of Retailing and Consumer Services56, 102176.

Sousa, P. R. D., Barbosa, M. W., Oliveira, L. K. D., Resende, P. T. V. D., Rodrigues, R. R., Moura, M. T., & Matoso, D. (2021). Challenges, Opportunities, and lessons learned: Sustainability in Brazilian omnichannel retail. Sustainability13(2), 666.

Dr. Jalal Rajeh Hanaysha
Author: Dr. Jalal Rajeh Hanaysha
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