British retailers stand to lose £1.04bn a year because of long queues at the check-out, according to a new survey by EE, the digital communications company. Three quarters – 73% – of shoppers will abandon purchases if they have to wait longer than five minutes to make that purchase, the survey found.
To help retailers address such operational challenges, EE is introducing Connected Retail, a new managed service that uses mobile connectivity in-store to improve the customer experience and open new revenue streams. Connected Retail is the first proposition in EE’s new Total Enterprise Mobility approach for business, designed to help corporate and public sector organisations become mobile in every way.
Connected Retail is an industry solution that retailers can use to build closer relationships with customers by engaging with them in an integrated, omni-channel way, claims EE. It can help retailers better understand their customers’ buying behaviour, registering when they arrive at their local store and how long they spend shopping. With this knowledge, retailers can send customers personalised offers and promotions to their smartphone while they are in-store.
Building on this, by using real-time data analytics to develop time-based communications with customers, combined with heat mapping technology to anticipate queues at the checkout before they arrive, retailers can ultimately deliver an enhanced shopping experience that customers will value and keep coming back for. Heat mapping can also help retailers plan and update store layout to optimise traffic flow through the store.
Max Taylor, director of corporate business at EE, said: “Consumers are always online, always mobile, shopping on the go. By 2016, 80% of consumers will be using mobile to make informed buying decisions. As they find, compare, share and buy, retailers have the opportunity to exploit digital channels and create a far more engaging in-store experience.”
By combining technology with wireless connectivity specifically for use in a retail environment, EE claims Connected Retail opens up new possibilities, such as offering spontaneous promotions based on a customer’s location within the store and known buying preferences, or to set up an instant digital marketplace to provide customers with a choice of competing offers.
Connected Retail at Asda
EE is already working with supermarket chain Asda to explore and activate Connected Retail strategy and technology in its 575 stores around the UK. Asda’s branded in-store WiFi instantly attracted over 100,000 customers and now has more than 800,000 subscribers. Asda store managers are now able to complete admin tasks from the shop floor using tablet PCs, which has given them back seven hours a week to spend with customers and colleagues.
Cross-referencing WiFi data with customers’ use of online shopping apps gives Asda a more holistic view of buying behaviour, enabling the retailer to provide even better-targeted services and communications across online, mobile and in-store channels.
Total Enterprise Mobility
Connected Retail is part of EE’s Total Enterprise Mobility approach comprising three pillars, namely Mobile Workforce, Engaged Customers and Connected Machines. Together these pillars can make businesses genuinely more mobile, characterised by the free yet secure flow of information between people and machines.
- Workforce Mobility: Mobile working should permeate the organisation and not be limited to field workers and home office connectivity. To be genuinely mobile, all employees should be able to access all business systems and applications that they need to do their job, regardless of their location and in a secure way
- Engaged Customers: Mobile devices present an immediate way for businesses to reach and engage their customers, build loyalty and open new revenue streams. To be genuinely mobile, digital conversations with customers should be two-way through apps and shared systems across multiple channels, rather than businesses simply pushing out information by email and text
- Connected Machines: Connecting machines to the Internet of Things, internally and externally, enables business information to flow freely between machines, and from machines to employees, in real-time for impressive operational and productivity gains