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Economy and buyer behaviour driving retailers towards self-service technology

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5th May 2010
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The sluggish economy and shifts in consumer buying behaviour are resulting in retailers trying to boost their appeal by moving towards customer self-service technology such as digital signage and kiosks.

Research from the Aberdeen Group indicates that more than a third of retailers now plan to introduce a range of self-service tools and systems over the next 12 months due to growth in customer demand.

In its report entitled ‘New Customer Service Strategies in Retail: The Reign of Kiosks and Self-Service’, the researcher said: "By combining self-service capabilities with assisted service (employee help) in every sales channel, retailers are trying to ensure that customers possess the option to control many elements of their shopping experience, from product information and self-checkout to web browsing and inventory look-up functions."

Digital signage is currently being employed by 56% of those questioned, while 45% are using self-service loyalty kiosks, 44% kiosks for gift registry, 39% for web ordering and inventory look-up and 30% for DVD rental.

But other tools that rank high on the wish list include mobile retailing, which enables organisations to send targeted couponing, loyalty programmes, product information search and 2-D bar codes for store based promotions and selling to customers’ mobile phones.

Self-checkout to enable consumers to scan, bag and pay for their purchases is also popular, partly to help cut staff costs, as is so-called clienteling. This involves using PC and mobile applications to automate, manage and grow customer relationships before, during and after they make a purchase.

Finally, some retailers will either pilot introduce mobile handheld computers over the next 12 months to enable customers to check inventory levels and make purchases.

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