The Role of Digital in the New Era of Retail

Last Updated on 2021-03-28

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the retail industry, forcing retailers to make changes and adaptations to protect their customers, employees, and their own survival. Some of these changes are here to stay,  even after the pandemic. One of these changes will be the increasing need and use of digital technologies.

The new age of retail will continue to utilize and expand on the use of digital technologies to attract and grow the customer base while increasing productivity and reducing costs. Below are further details as to the role of digital in the new era of retail and how retailers can gain from the use of digital.

Digital Marketing

To compete with online brands, the offline retail space has embarked on its journey of new-age marketing. Today, 75% of the retail market is still offline.  These offline retailers are trying their best to establish an online presence as the online market is growing at a tremendous pace. Offline retailers are using SEO, digital ads, and email marketing to stay ahead in the race. These New-age marketing channels help brands garner higher ROI in comparison to traditional media. The google ads skillsfuture course sharing some digital advertising strategies that work and help achieve KPIs and the hacks that Google don’t want you to know for the maximum ROIs.

Offline brands are also using OTT (Over-the-top) media services, and social media platforms such as TikTok and YouTube to generate revenue and build their brand. Influencer marketing on social media channels such as Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube has become a great way to build trust and improve brand awareness and authenticity. In fact, in a survey conducted by Mediakix, 89% of those surveyed stated that ROI of influencer marketing is comparable or better than other channels.

Below are some further ideas as to how retailers are pivoting with the use of technology to increase reach, reduce costs, improve productivity and increase customer loyalty.  

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML)

In the new age of retail, retailers are no longer confined to traditional business analytics. They are ready to explore machine learning and artificial intelligence to solve business and consumer problems. Major credit for this can be given to the availability of large volumes of internal and external anonymized data.

Consumer retail brands can use these technologies in two ways:

  1. Provide a hyper-personalized consumer experience. For example, in-store VR (Virtual Reality) experiences guide consumers to understand their products, voice recognition, and image processing assists in placing orders. In the new retail world, retailers will try to wow their customers by making the most of advanced technologies and provide unique store experiences, performance marketing, and cross-selling.
  1. Modern retailers can use AI and ML for driving business efficiencies. This will ultimately result in saving costs, and hence, an increase in profitability. Data sciences can also be used in other areas such as fraud transaction detection, merchandise planning, and programmatic marketing.

Barcode Technology 

Barcodes are extensively used in many industries. In fact, in the spring of 2017, around 30 million internet users scanned a QR code on smartphones. 

Retail is one industry where QR codes and various other barcode types are used every minute. The use of barcodes in retail is not limited to facilitating sales and inventory procedures and continues to grow and evolve.

The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic has elevated the use of barcodes to allow for better customer service and a safe and productive contactless shopping experience.

Barcodes for Click and Collect and Self-Checkouts

Click and collect has been gaining popularity in North America for the past few years. COVID-19 accelerated this process with an increase of 443 percent in click-and-collect in March 2020 compared to February. Click and collect allows local retailers to compete with online stores. Customers can sit in their car, while the customer service representative scans the barcode and delivers their order to them, without going inside the store.  The customer receives their order with same-day delivery of their products, which is not always possible with online shopping.

Another exciting way barcode technology is shaping the new-age retail is via self-checkouts. The trend started as a precautionary measure against COVID-19 and is here to stay for all the right reasons. Self-checkouts not only help provide a more optimized customer experience but also increase profitability and efficiency.

One of our clients, Lee Valley Tools, launched an innovative contactless shopping capability with the Dynamsoft Barcode Reader JavaScript SDK. The new tool is integrated with LeeValley.com– the company’s website and provides mobile contactless shopping to the customers in each of its 20 locations across Canada. Contactless shopping promotes a safe shopping experience for customers entering the store while being exposed to other products they may not have been thinking about purchasing otherwise. 

Innovative Ways to Use Barcodes in Retail 

Since competition in the retail space continues to rise, retail stores have to find ways to stand out, from the fast-growing online landscape. The new-age shoppers are smart, and they prefer reading reviews from other customers and the product details before making a purchase. Stores can use customized QR codes to let shoppers scan and access product details, review and compare features with similar products. This way, retail stores can provide a richer shopping experience to their customers.

Store employees can use barcode scanning apps on their smartphones or mobile devices to explain the features, specifications, installation instructions, customer reviews, warranty information, and inventory status. Hence, they won’t have to look here and there to gather the data, as everything can be found using a barcode. 

Dynamsoft Barcode SDK Solution 

Barcodes are being used in the new-age retail realm in many exciting ways to create a better customer experience, increase overall productivity and lower costs. With Dynamsoft Barcode Reader SDK, retailers can create enterprise-grade barcode scanning apps to help them stay ahead in the ever-evolving retail world. 

Visit our website to find out more about Dynamsoft Barcode Reader, or try our 30-day free trial today. 

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