Retailers are no strangers to new waves of technology. As recently as 15 years ago, it was unusual for a small local boutique to have a fully functional ecommerce website. Now, brick-and-mortar retailers are fixated on the next big tech transformation on Main Street: in-store tablets.
Investing in pricey tablets for employee use brings up a lot of issues for business owners, especially retail small business owners. Trusting staff to use tablets for work and not for fun is one concern. Investing in technology that might not make a big difference for customers is a valid fear as well. In terms of the employee usage issue, there are many ways to "lock down" work tablets so employees can only access certain things, and thanks to rugged designs and tablet cases designed for commercial use, durability is less of an issue than it once was. That said, for some, it's still hard to visualize the value of implementing tablets in-store.
Here are seven ways outfitting your establishment with tablets can improve the customer experience, and even improve your bottom line.
1. Tablets maximize space.
Retailers can eliminate bulky checkout stations and maximize floor space by adopting tablets equipped with point-of-sale (POS) software. By maximizing floor space, customers have more inventory to choose from, and you have more space to display that inventory.
The fewer times a customer is compelled to ask a sales associate for an extra size or inquire about additional colors and styles, the better. Additionally, it's easier to rotate seasonal items when there's more breathing room on the floor, which makes for a better shopping experience.
2. Tablets with POS software increase checkout speed.
One of the most obvious benefits of adopting in-store tablets is the potential for faster checkout times. If you're like most retailers, you've witnessed frustrated customers ditch checkout lines and leave the store (especially during holidays or sales) without buying anything. When more of your sales associates can complete transactions from anywhere in the store, it greatly improves the checkout experience for guests.
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3. Tablets improve product visualization.
Some products require a demonstration, which can be difficult to provide when there is limited space and limited time to keep each customer's attention. In-store tablets can be used to showcase product demonstrations and improve product visualization.
Besides showing how a product functions, tablets help consumers view all of their options. For example, a furniture store might use a tablet to show a customer the different upholstery options available to them. Businesses that do things like interior work or landscape design also use tablets for product/project visualization, especially during the planning process, to make sure they're on the same page as their clients.
4. Tablets offer real-time inventory insights.
In-store tablets give floor sales associates the ability to access real-time inventory information while selling. The customer service (and employee happiness) implications of this one feature are massive. Instead of rushing back and forth to the stockroom to check on items customers inquire about, sales associates can simply look up the item and alert the customer as to whether it's available or not.
5. Tablets can gather customer information.
Tablets are a great way to gather customer feedback quickly and efficiently. Many stores benefit from offering a discount in exchange for filling out a short survey, and being able to ascertain what your customers want, need and expect makes it easier to adjust to their changing needs.
Additionally, most POS systems that work on tablets include the ability to pull reports and gather analytics, making it much easier to see which sales associates are the best, how different products are selling and then adapt your strategy accordingly. Tablets can also help capture customer contact information, as some customers are more likely to enter their email addresses or phone numbers into a tablet than they are to say it out loud to an associate.
6. Tablets bring POS marketing into the real world.
You might associate POS marketing with ecommerce, but bringing tablets into the physical store experience makes it possible to present related last-minute offers to customers as they check out in person. Employing this feature makes it easier for your customers to find new related items and simpler for you to push specific inventory items.
7. Tablets drive online purchases.
Shopping is one of the most popular uses for consumer tablets, and having in-store tablets is a great way to drive online purchases in the future. Consumers know they can purchase goods from major brands online, but they might be unaware that their local independent retailer also has an ecommerce site.
Showing customers your online store or catalog while they're already shopping may encourage them to shop online with you in the future. As all brick-and-mortar retailers know, online shopping is increasingly replacing physical stores, so showcasing your online store to your customers is a way of showing them you understand their needs and a way for you to keep pace with other retail establishments, which is a win-win.