Our fascination with technology can sometimes (admittedly) get the better of us. We get sucked in with its shininess, or cool factor – mesmerized by its novelty. Enamoured as we can become with new gadgets, devices, apps etc…ultimately the novelty wears off and frustration sets in with the first instance of a time-wasting glitch or lack of user-friendly features. When it comes to deploying new technology in retail environments, we should consider new technology and its coolness factor as having the potential to draw customers and enhance the shopping experience but, this needs to be heavily weighed against using technology for technology’s sake alone. Before investing, retailers need to know its value add/ROI. In addition to rolling out new tech — all too often, we’ve seen ill-trained staff struggling to cope with technology they don’t know how to use and causing greater frustration for customers than usefulness. There are countless examples of self-serve deployments that ultimately require human intervention, poorly deployed queue management that slow lines down, smartphone apps or mobile greeters that seem overly invasive or creepy even. So while technology can be a draw it can also backfire and pose a real risk of turning off customers if not proven or deployed properly.
Essential Retail reported on a recent study, that found that customers would prefer to make their shopping journey easy, not innovative. According to the report, shoppers are less interested in the “whizzy” gadgets retailers are investing in store, such as beacons, and augmented reality, especially when they are implemented without thinking about the effect on the consumer journey. Half of the 1,000 shoppers surveyed said they could not see the benefit of using their phones in store, 27% said it was too much effort to use their phones in-store, while 23% had never even thought about using their phones in store. A lack of free Wi-Fi also prevents 22% of consumers from using their phones in shops. These are just some of a few examples of the kinds of tech innovations that disrupt the customer journey instead of enhance it.
In this Information Age cautionary article, “Here Today, gone tomorrow – the tech fad phenomena,” written by our own Ajay Joshi, we can see the rise and fall of tech gadgetry as well as the true innovations that have withstood the test of time. By deploying technology solutions that solve real business problems – such as effective queue management, click and collect solutions that allow your customer to know exactly where and when they will be served and cutting edge digital signage that guides, excites and informs your customers, retailers can be assured of benefitting from proven innovation that avoids the dark side of technology.