How have the Internet and touchscreen technology changed the buying process?
There is a movement toward digital retail, which means that even retailers focused on an in-person model should be ready to integrate some elements of this technology.
The introduction of proficient digital systems and services has changed every part of the retail experience, and all parties involved with the industry will have to keep an eye on this particular trend to ensure offerings remain relevant to customers. The most simplified examination of the digital revolution is that advances in digital convenience will be accompanied by the eventual decline of in-person sales. However, there are several nuanced effects to observe as well.
Two areas of tech development bear closer observation. The first is the use of online connections to link buyers and sellers. The other is the evolution of digital devices and interactive interfaces, with touchscreens becoming more prominent. Touchscreen technology is rapidly replacing mouse and keyboard configurations on devices such as smartphones, tablets and interactive kiosks, and is changing the retail buying process.
"Companies not only need to integrate some digital elements, but must also follow up on these strategies."
An online world
The current retail environment is different from any other time in the past, and the changes are ongoing. Even in industries based on in-store retail, it's important to take any opportunity to bring online and IT-based practices into common use, as these are what shoppers are often most interested in.
A recent CMO report referred to Forrester Research delving into the state of digital-enabled retail. The source passed on a few tips from Forrester's principal analyst, Adam Silverman, who suggested that companies could begin their quest to integrate the physical and digital spaces by creating a single view of their shoppers. This means employing systems that offer benefits for both customers and sellers; with the consumer gaining a convenient way to buy goods and the store tracking preferences to serve shoppers' future needs more accurately.
Silverman stated that companies not only need to integrate some digital elements, but also must follow up on these strategies, improving them over time and tracking the results. The first step, the analyst explained, is creating solutions that will be convenient and helpful to the shoppers. Treating the customer as the center of the activity can get buy-in from the audience and bring new individuals into the process.
Digital-age retail begins with making the connection between buyer and seller easier.
Touchscreen technology is a new way to connect within the digital world. Individuals have become accustomed to dealing with information using their own hands rather than the traditional mouse and keyboard. Adapting this type of interface in-store could be a way to maintain continuity and keep individuals engaged with the digital content. When thinking about services that will guide consumers from their own research through a purchase made on the showroom floor, retailers today should consider that the shopper may be familiar with and may already carry out his or her research on a touchscreen device.
Just how prominent have touchscreen devices become in the consumer world? PYMNTS, an online group providing "what's next" in the payments sector, recently presented findings from comScore, online analytics for a global world, and its "U.S. Digital Future in Focus 2015" report. This study explained the U.S. smartphone penetration rate is now 75 percent, with shoppers spending a huge portion of their day attached to a device. The smartphone is expanding as a browsing device and this connection to consumers is available to those retailers savvy enough to pursue it.
Retail's inevitable changes
The main takeaway for retail companies from the many changes transforming the industry over the past few years is that consumers are always adjusting their preferences and frames of reference. Businesses that can keep up and adapt will likely be able to capitalize, and those that cannot may fall by the wayside. Incorporating touchscreen technology could influence the success of a retailer's in-store experience by aligning itself to the new buyer's process.