Shopping is becoming more fluid between online, mobile, and brick and mortar channels, so, what can we expect in terms of retail innovations in 2019? Here’s a look at three emerging retail trends that the LISNR Product team believes are worth paying attention to:

1. Merging of Online, Mobile, and Offline Customer Experiences:

As young Millennials and Gen Z shoppers gain a larger share of retail spend, their ecommerce-first UX expectations will need to be replicated in the brick and mortar environment. Digital and mobile shopping have set the bar high with regards to personalized, targeted shopping experiences, and smoother operations such as quicker check-outs and payments. Retailers will need to replicate similar experiences in-store. Retailers are responding by building out their in-store tech stack to facilitate a smarter, more seamless experience.

Progressive retailers view their physical stores as an extension of their website in order to track revenue success metrics, and further connect with their customers. Merchants are leveraging consumer data to personalize their marketing. Given the vast amounts of data that retailers can capture via mobile apps, e-commerce channels, and in-store, many have an opportunity to target their marketing efforts to customers in a highly personalized manner.

Best Buy, for example, has implemented location-based marketing in stores. The retailer’s app goes into “local store mode” when a customer enters a store, and users are then sent push notifications with ads specific to the inventory of that particular store. Additionally, the app alerts store associates when customers are on their way to pick up online orders. This type of retail innovation is both improving the customer experience and helping Best Buy’s bottom line.

For some retailers such as Nike, mobile commerce is becoming a strategic tool in-store.  For example, select new Nike stores in LA and NYC offer a slew of services for customers that can only be accessed via Nike’s mobile app. These services include special geo-fenced offers, instant mobile checkout, in-store pickup lockers, and a “Shop the Look” feature where customers can scan in-store mannequins for outfit information. Retailers are taking bets that these retail innovations will successfully convert digital-first consumers to shop in-store. Moreover, the retail experience has been thrust to the forefront of a brand’s entire ecosystem. As in the case of retailers like Nike and Amazon, physical stores are considered key drivers of the customer experience and harnessing data, often ranked higher than even revenue in terms of overall metrics.

2. Retailers Will Own the Payment Experience:

Retailers want to own the “last mile” of payments, so that they maintain full ownership of the customer experience and better utilize customer data to enhance the lifetime value of their customers. The prevailing disjointed payment and path-to-purchase processes has meant disintermediation of retailers from their customers’ data, making it harder for them to derive insights from transactions. Moreover, newer mobile payment systems such as Apple Pay or Google Pay might offer some level of convenience, but they detract consumers from the branded retailer environment. The providers – not the merchants – ultimately ‘own’ the payment experience.

Forward looking retailers are creating branded proprietary checkout experiences. Leveraging their own mobile wallets and dedicated apps, trailblazers like Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts, and Walmart are proving the advantage of owning the moment of payment, fundamentally changing the offline ‘point of conversion’ away from a moment owned by third parties to one controlled by the retailer. Additional retailers such as internet giant Alibaba and grocery retailer Kroger have implemented in-store mobile scanning and payment systems into their physical stores in order to own the full customer journey.

Using the retailer’s app powered by ultrasonic technology in-store provides a unique customer experience that includes targeted promotions, and personalized, branded messaging at the point of transaction. LISNR protects and enhances a merchant’s most important payment micro moments, acting as a catalyst to retail innovation. Only LISNR ultrasonic data transmission can enable secure, bi-directional transactions, where the user never has to leave a branded environment. Audio tones embedded in a retailer’s app can connect to payment systems seamlessly and securely to process payments.

3. Controlling In-Store Transaction Data:

The emergence of the chip-based debit and credit card transactions standard (EMV) and Payment Account Reference (PAR) has had a significant and positive impact on fraud, but has also disintermediated merchants from their own data. Retailers are therefore at a disadvantage in terms of their first-party data, thus limiting the effectiveness of their marketing machine, both online and offline. To overcome this, expect to see retailers facilitate check-in and payments via their mobile app and branded payment terminals to ensure they retain a holistic view of the customer journey and valuable transaction data. Getting a headstart on this retail innovation, there are recent efforts by retailers to gain back control of the payment process from card networks.

Ultrasonic data can play a critical role here. As the final frontier of payments, LISNR inaudible tones can enable retailers to retain control over shopper payments, and allow shoppers to safely and quickly pay in-store. Retailers will begin to appreciate the merits of this technology due to the fact that they don’t need to invest in any additional hardware, and its ability to accept mobile payments from any consumer device.  

The end goals that ultrasonic-based payments achieve include improving the customer experience and giving retailers access to raw customer transaction data. In turn, the data will help retailers target shoppers with more customized offers that drive loyalty and future purchases. More retailers will adopt ultrasonic data technology in 2019 to offer improved customer experiences with as they relate to payments.

In Conclusion

One might ask how consumers are reacting to increased digitization of their in-store shopping experience? There’s proof that consumers welcome a more personalized brick and mortar experience. According to a recent study by Accenture and the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA), 63% of consumers are interested in personalized recommendations and experiences from retailers in-store. Owning key parts of the in-store shopping experience while giving consumers more of what they want? Sounds like the industry is on the right path to retail innovation.

To learn more about how ultrasonic data transmission can transform the merchant experience, visit our solutions page.

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