4 Tips for Success in the Age of Real-Time Retail

The Internet of Things, or IoT, enables retailers to stand out by providing real-time offers, inventory insight, and live shopping opportunities.

Retailers are responding to a consumer demand for in-store offers and more efficient retail solutions through various implementations, ranging from real-time in-app inventory filters to facial tracking that aids in trying on products.

Succeeding in the age of real-time retail should be a point of interest for any retailer, with in-the-moment store management and retail solutions offering increased efficiency and user-friendly appeal.

Several notable retailers have already tied in the IoT to accomplish real-time retail, with some of their examples inspiring tips on succeeding in this sphere.

Tip 1: Offer Real-Time Promotions

There’s an alarming gap between the percentage of customers who want real-time promotions — 47 percent — and the percentage of retailers who offer them — 7 percent. As a result, retailers that focus on providing this type of promotions stand out from their competition. Consumers are increasingly likely to use their smartphones while in stores to see if they can take advantage of any offers. Retailers are wise to bundle real-time promos in an official app for their store, providing customers a go-to source for real-time promotions and beyond.

Tip 2: Enhance the Omni-Channel Buying Experience

Brick-and-mortar retailers are adapting to in-store pickup programs online, allowing shoppers to purchase a product online and then pick it up in-store. The experience provides customers with a more hands-on buying experience, while aiding the retailer by bringing in more foot traffic.

A frequent barrier to in-store pickup is that some inventory isn’t available in-store the same day. Ordering an item online, only to find out it’s not available upon arriving at the store, can leave a bad taste in consumers’ mouths. Best Buy has successfully responded to this issue by offering a real-time in-app inventory filter, which gives shoppers the ability to filter their searches by which products are available for in-store pickup that very day. Retailers can also incorporate IoT sensors to monitor items that are out of stock.

Tip 3: Embrace Prompt Payment and Real-Time Sales Tracking

Retailers that provide customers with a prompt payment option in the form of Square Reader increase the opportunity for a sale. A study found 41 percent of shoppers have abandoned a purchase due to long wait times in the checkout line. With Square Reader, employees can process payments on the go, while walking around the store and engaging with customers in real time.

A sometimes-overlooked benefit of Square Reader is its analytics capabilities. Square provides a dashboard that shows real-time sales tracking, including sales summaries and comparisons, data on the bestselling products and performance based on store location. Retailers can use this valuable real-time data to offer timely promotions and gain insight on in-store product placement and display.

Tip 4: Implement In-Store Augmented Reality

Especially for retailers that offer wearable products such as clothing and makeup, in-store AR may represent the future.

For example, Sephora’s Virtual Artist feature enables customers to try on products virtually before purchase. A live 3D facial recognition update from ModiFace provides the ability to apply digital makeup to see how it will look with their skin tone before they buy it. Sephora’s drive to provide customers with a personal shopping experience with the aid of technology shows effective real-time retail in action.

Succeeding in the age of real-time retail involves listening to consumers, who have shown an embrace for real-time promotions, an omnichannel purchasing experience and in-store augmented reality.

As consumers embrace this next wave of in-store technology, retailers should do the same to separate from their competition and enhance purchasing decisions for their products. 

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