There have been debates on whether online stores are taking over the world of physical stores. With the increase of abundances features and benefits, while shopping online using an e-commerce website or a mobile app, physical stores are seeing a drastic decrease in human traffic. It has significantly created threats to existing physical stores as many stores are not feasible to adapt to the new changes. Some products require face to face demonstrations such as things customers would like to hold, smell, taste, or see before they purchase it. However, there are still many ways as to how physical stores can attract walk-in customers and that is by implementing digital technology by bringing in automation trends beating the e-commerce website and mobile apps in retail stores to redesign business processes. It creates a stronger brand image offline as well as online.
Most consumers prefer shopping online on mobile apps in Singapore because it is more convenient. Self-checkout counters have been introduced to physical stores for some time and it has proven to shorten waiting time in queues when making payment transactions. It also has reduced cart abandonment, letting more store staff serve customers in other ways and it is relatively easy to adapt to it. Self-checkouts accept a wide range of payment options including credit/debit cards and mobile payments such as GooglePay and ApplePay and as well as cash. One of the many features self-checkout can attributes is the ability to configure to different languages which can be useful for locations that have many customers who speak different languages or stores in the tourist areas.
Merchant wallets which are mostly available through mobile apps in Singapore are also highly anticipated in physical stores. Many big cooperations have established such applications to their customers such as Starbucks, Caltex and etc. It is extremely convenient for loyal customers as these applications provide information such as promotion deals, payment transparency, transaction history and they can access their membership cards to redeem points each time they make a purchase. There is no doubt that it saves more time when making payment at checkouts and it also increases interaction with their customers. Merchant wallets applications are exceptionally popular in the United States while mobile application developers in Singapore are just starting to roll out to the market as Singaporeans rely mostly on mobile wallets such as Grabpay, NetsPay, FavePay and etc than merchant wallets.
QR codes are not something new to consumers and retail stores. However, the features of QR codes can be widely used in many different ways. When scanning a QR code, it will redirect to a different page. It can be linked to multimedia, social media channels, and marketing campaigns. In retail stores, it always seems to be difficult to get the right information for certain products. When executing QR codes, it can be linked to product information as it is a quicker and easier way to obtain it. This feature can reduce misinterpretation in the product information. QR codes are relatively easy to create and it has demonstrated an increase in sales and a new wave of the redesigned business process.
Out of stock products are bound to happen when it comes to buying products in physical stores and it can cause frustration and complications during the buying process. Some retail stores do not have a policy of reserving items and it can be difficult for consumers as they lack free time and as a result of seeking out to e-commerce websites or mobile apps. Companies can roll out an online service where customers can reserve items online to their desired stores and proceed by trying it on physically. In fact, Nike is one of the most promising brands in the Apparel Accessories industry, and in 2018, it rolled out its first digital retail flagship store in New York. It allows customers to reserve items online and when they arrive in-store, their names will be attached to a locker where they can try it on in person and pay it through mobile payment. The involvement of digital technology tools in retail stores create a new wave of excitement when shopping in physical stores.
Lastly, a digital fitting room can be created to engage with customers in a more interactive way to relate to its brand. It is effective as customers do not have to take items off the shelves and try on multiple clothing at once. Customers can also save multiple screen options to compare it side by side without taking it on and off when making decisions. Digital mirror technology can also be introduced in hair salons where it allows customers to see themselves in different hairstyles and colors before the actual procedure takes place. For example, Mango has rolled out digital fitting rooms for shoppers in its biggest stores worldwide and Samsung has installed digital mirrors in hair salons located in South Korea. As a country such as Singapore where it is known as Asia’s technology capital, a simple digital mirror technology can also be transformed into a mobile application as it is more compact and accessible to achieve such transformation without bearing heavy costs.
In an effort of keeping physical stores alive, retailers need to take extra steps in launching digital technologies in order to obtain digital business process transformation. Regardlessly, retailers should take into account that embarking on a digital technology transformation can be challenging, requires research, and consult digital transformation experts but that does not mean that one should not embrace changes as technology is getting more advanced and more difficult to catch up with the current trends. There are many empowering Singapore enterprises that are making huge changes to society as the future is tech.