Extensive use of the Internet has fundamentally changed almost every industry – from the way we use the media, book our travels, accommodation and transportation, to the way we search for apartments, cars and real estate. Retail, for example, was first affected by new competition from online suppliers with most bricks and mortar retailers taking a negative view of these developments and changes. Since then many have
established their own online shops and combined them with the advantages of regular stores: For example, Click-and-Collect models bringing customers from the online world into stores where they are offered additional services or products which aren’t available online, e.g. the initial setup of a smartphone or PC.
The expectations of customers in local stores are also rising. They want to use their smartphones to compare prices, obtain additional information for their purchasing decisions, check the availability of similar items (e.g. in a different color or size) and much more. At the same time, technological developments have created new possibilities, helping retailers work more efficiently and cost-effectively as well as become more customer oriented. Some are already tried and tested, such as digital price tags, the promotion and introduction of new products by means of digital signage, or broadcasting the company's own music, advertising and entertainment programs.
Other solutions are on the verge of breakthrough or still in the trial phase. Among
these are so-called location-based services: Depending on the store's location, customers can receive additional information or special offers on their smartphones (following a one-time approval process) or simply have their in-store movements recorded anonymously to optimize store design and shelf filling.
Various options for cashless payment are also being tested intensively. Textile retailers, for example, are expressing a lot of interest in the tracking and inventorying of clothing items, keeping records of pieces taken into local fitting local rooms, while others are testing »virtual fitting rooms« and recommendation assistants via interactive mirrors.
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