SMART GLASSES CHANGING THE DYNAMICS OF RETAIL SALES ASSISTANCE
It is important for a retailer to understand what the customer seeks and how to try to exceed his expectations. Customer’s expectations of how they should be able to interact with retailers has changed dramatically in the last few years. Driven by an increasingly connected world that knows no time constraints for online shopping, customers are demanding the same access to a retailer’s service and support operations. Divya Bhutani, a student of Masters of Fashion Technology, NIFT Delhi uncovers the digital technology empowering the function of sales assistance in retail.
In a technologically advanced digital world, retailers and brands try to enhance customers’ experience digitally based on their interests. Improving sales assistance can mould a shopper’s experience into a good one. Today we can see a completely new generation of shoppers who actually demand less friction and more convenience in their shopping experience. Sales associates are the people that communicate with shoppers and ensure a smooth sales process and process transactions. These sales assistants can also influence the purchase decision of a customer. A good interaction also results in a revisit of the customer to the store. Helping customers in finding what they are looking for, describing product features, demonstrating their use, showing various models and colours, handling returns and exchanges of merchandise and maintaining stock level, are the main responsibilities of a sales assistant.
Smart phone apps benefiting retailers
To ensure maximum customer engagement, retail stores have to make sure that all the aces are in their place. In order to meet the demands of the customer, retailers have built increasingly complex websites to market and support their offering, but while doing so, they have obscured the ability of the customers to access that information quickly and easily. The end result is that the customers look and possibly purchase from another company that is able to meet their needs of instant access to information and resolution.
The idea of apps in smartphone simplifies the complexities brought up by websites during shopping. As a shopper always carries his smartphone along with him, he ensures that all the information and support are delivered to him in the predicted way and he is benefited from the same.
An app named Target (for retailer Target) helps customers find the right product with its best My List Feature. Customers can make a list before they shop and the app will search for the product’s availability and aisled location. It also includes a store locator, barcode scanner to get details of products and coupons for daily deals.
Similarly, another app named American Apparel App solves so many queries of a customer. The app American Apparel scans barcodes and images to get full access to full outfits, changing colour lines, and also provides additional videos and fashion
An optical headmounted display designed in the shape of eyeglasses is a game-changing gadget for retail technology. With this gadget, the wearer can communicate with the internet via the voice commands.
advice which can be shared with one’s friends. Still a balance needs to be maintained between a completely automated and human- assisted service for the retail industry… Customers, however, still desire for personal customer service. The fact that still holds true is that an all automated device cannot completely replace the value that a human touch generates. Thus, having a combination of technology with human touch is the ideal solution. Nowadays, because of increasing diversity of products, customers often seek assistance in locating a product or getting detailed information about a preferred product. With the advent of the digital era, retailers often find themselves in a fix trying to get an ideal mix of technology and the human factor.
Smart glasses – Wearable tech become sales assistants
An optical head-mounted display designed in the shape of eyeglasses is a gamechanging gadget for retail technology. With this gadget, the wearer can communicate with the internet via the voice commands. When a shopper browses through the website, a click-to- call button takes him/ her to a virtual store. The customer can then connect with the sales representative at the store. They switch their smart glasses on and in a few seconds, they can see the products through the eyes of the sales person who showcases the products via real-time video while talking. Earlier in 2015, these glasses failed the retail test because of the criticism faced to make them a customer’s device but this time in 2017, they have come back with a bang. Also, this time, the glasses seem to be embracing those which are less glamorous, but which are arguably of more practical use. The display resolution of smart glasses is equivalent to the resolution of a 25- inch- high definition screen from 8 feet away. They can be controlled by voice recognition which one triggers by saying ‘OK’. Also, the touch pad on the right arm of the smart glass when swiped or tapped will work as an input. These smart glasses come with a good full day battery life which can enhance the customer’s experience, and can sometime last for hours. One such eyewear is offered by Google, named as Google glass. It offers client-specific suggestions very easily. For example, take Glass’s imagerecognition ability and link it to a Google account that, in turn, is directly connected to your past internet search history, email, comments, product reviews and Facebook likes. One only needs a Wi- Fi connection or Bluetooth device to make this glass work. For more on Google glass, refer this link: https://www. youtube.com/watch? v=TkfFWGUisw
Adopting this kind of virtual assistance not only results in sales but also in reduction in the required number of labour hours by an estimate of 50 per cent of the total hours needed. The rate of employee theft at retail store also sees a drop.
Calculation of RoI for basic level and advance level of technology (Smart Glass)
To calculate Return on Investment (RoI), the following assumptions have been made. Annual sales of the retail store are assumed to be Rs. 50 lakh and Rs. 70 lakh on busy days. The number of sales persons working is taken to be 10. Analysis Thus calculation of RoI shows that advance technology can pay for itself in three years, which is a positive sign. While it is true that assistance in a retail store cannot be completely replaced by the digital world, certain intervention is still necessary to enhance the user’s experience. Companies like Google and Amazon are trying to give the best possible experience to their customers. Technologies, if adopted in the requisite manner understanding the footfall of customers in the store and type of merchandise being sold, can give a huge amount of savings. Considering that RoI calculation for a new technology is a must activity, taking risks at a big level can also result in a downfall.
THEN: Sales assistants in store used to help shoppers in their shopping or in taking a decision
NOW: Smart glasses enables shoppers to browse through the store virtually and get all the information needed about the product