Increasing customer engagement is retailers’ most important business strategy over the next 18 months, according to the RIS News 2017 Retail Technology Study. They’re responding to the pressure they feel to transform the in-store shopping experience to stand out from digital pure-plays. In the next two years alone, more than 40% of retailers plan to install mobile POS or mobile devices for managers or associates. Almost half have started or will start installing digital signage or kiosks in the next two years, RIS also found.
Given the urgency, it’s understandable that retailers are eager to get these new technologies in place to start engaging their customers. But a rushed technology project can also be a failed one. Many consumers won’t come back if their initial encounter with a kiosk, mobile device or digital display is a poor one. McKinsey & Company found a single negative experience has four to five times greater relative impact than a positive one.
Here are several common pitfalls that come from rushing to deploy customer-engagement technology, and how to avoid them:
Pitfall: Overproduction. In their zeal to make a big splash, sometimes retailers create ambitious presentations around the new device, such as massive floor-to-ceiling kiosk cabinets. These run up costs and slow down rollouts.
Best Practice: Take advantage of the low cost, flexible and easy nature of mobile devices to experiment and prove the value of a new customer engagement technology, before bogging it down with too many bells and whistles.
Pitfall: Excessive Integration. A related issue to overproduction is asking too much of one device. The more roles it is asked to play ― say, a kiosk used for bill payment, endless aisle, loyalty point lookup, order pickup, and so on ― the more bogged down it gets. All those functions require multiple integrations which must be written and maintained. They can also frustrate customers in-store when they must wait for access, negating their engagement value.
Best Practice: Purpose-build devices for limited use cases and communicate those uses clearly to customers.
Pitfall: Ignoring Power Limitations. Placement of a devices such as a kiosk tends to be marketing-driven. But often those locations are not properly wired to meet power demands. As a result, performance is compromised, degrading the user experience.
Best Practice: Ensure devices such as POS, digital displays and kiosk have a dedicated power source. Build the required electrical work into your timeline and budget.
Pitfall: Over-Reliance on the Network. Project planners often assume they can download the image for a tablet, kiosk, mobile terminal or other device on site via the in-store Wifi. But those images can be large, so the process ends up degrading network performance and slowing the pace of the rollout.
Best Practice: Plan to load images in bulk at a facility set up for that process, before shipping equipment to stores.
Pitfall:Failing to Clarify Support. New in-store devices come with their own support needs. They may be supplied by different vendors than other in-store systems, and therefore have different warranty terms and service plans. Without clear support terms and coordination among vendors, it will take longer to get a failing device back online, degrading the customer experience.
Best Practice: Thoroughly understand support options and uptime requirements for each new device. Establish and communicate support processes clearly to in-store and help desk staff.
The biggest obstacle retailers face when deploying a new customer engagement technology in store is not knowing what they don’t know. Because they work on many installations, skilled third-party integrators such as Level 10 quickly gain experience with new technologies. By combining what they learn with their established store tech implementation methodologies and best practices, they can help retailers take a smarter approach without sacrificing time. When store device rollouts are done right, they stand the best chance on delivering on retailers’ critical customer engagement goals.