Advances in digitalisation in retail and the increasing relevance of e-commerce mean that the significance of digital technology at the point of sale (PoS) is also continuing to rise. Both customers and retailers recognise the advantages that tablets, smart shelves or digital signage solutions can offer. However, the range of opportunities to deploy these solutions is broad and their successful implementation often poses a big challenge for retailers and their personnel.
It is important to involve all employees systematically in the conception and implementation of digital PoS technologies, from management level right through to colleagues working on the sales floor. Only by doing so is it possible to identify internal resistance and barriers relating to the use of the digital components in good time and to take any steps needed to counteract them. Early and comprehensive training for all employees is essential for the successful introduction of the new technology. This makes it possible to identify and eliminate uncertainty around using the devices and to convey and communicate the added value for employees, customers and the company. Communication and training measures should focus on the ways in which work relating to product advice, warehouse management processes and cross-selling activities will be made easier for employees on the shop floor.
Sales assistants are also an important element in observing how customers use technology and in promoting its use. All too often, digital technology fails due to low take-up by the customer base itself. In this case, what matters most is to analyse, and also to communicate, the actual added value for customers. If customers themselves are unsure what is to be gained by using the technology, or how they find and use it, then only rarely will the new devices be accepted and used.
Generally speaking, openness by retailers towards new digital technologies should be viewed as a positive thing. However, companies should be fully aware that not every digital technology is suitable for their own business.
Rather than making an arbitrary choice about technology, it is better to set clear goals for the business and see to what extent digital technologies are useful and which ones can make a contribution to implementing the company's set vision. Do you want to find out what can make the company more attractive for customers or what customers already appreciate? In this case, the right choice would be a feedback solution. If the business wants to create a more pleasant environment, then there is the option of implementing a coherent overall concept using multi-sensory combined solutions. What is important is to be clear about what can be implemented before acquiring the corresponding digital technology and how the technology can contribute to meeting the company's objectives.
Despite the numerous possible uses, digital technologies are neither a gimmick nor a godsend! Yes, digital technologies can support and/or expand the services offered and contribute to enhancing the store design, but they cannot replace a comprehensive and "sound" business concept. The working environment and the attitude of the employees is also important. If staff oppose digital technologies then they are almost sure to fail. At the same time, the possibilities offered by digital technology extend far beyond simple presence in the store. For example, digital directional systems – so-called in-store navigation – can be used to create genuine added value. Moreover, customers can even go shopping in the brick-and-mortar store from the comfort of their own home by doing a virtual shopping tour or getting advice from in-store staff via live video chat.
What is of fundamental importance here is to have a well-thought-out choice of technologies with similarly well-trained staff and content that not only adds value but is checked and updated regularly.
Digital technology can create a lot of added value under the right circumstances, enthusing both customers and employees. Companies should, however, note that you have to create the suitable infrastructure in order to be able to deploy digital technologies successfully. This includes devices for handling technology, provision of Wi-Fi, preparation of content that is relevant for media purposes and (as appropriate) for marketing, staff training and much more. All this is the basis for finding the approach to digital point of sale solutions that is right for your own company.
Would you like to learn more about PoS digitalisation? You have the opportunity to listen to inspiring talks on the topic of digitalisation during the Insights-X online live event.InsightsTalks programme
About the author:
Mailin Schmelter is Team Leader for Strategic Insights and Deputy Division Manager of Customer Insights at the Cologne-based market research institute IFH Köln and its ECC KÖLN brand. Besides strategic issues, she spends most of her time on individual market research and consultancy projects with a focus on customer experience, cross-channel strategies, customer journey and payment.