Last week, we explored making your home smart. Now we are tackling your small business. The term ‘internet of things‘ has been floating through tech sphere’s for the past several years, but it is still generally non-existent with the general public, including small business owners.
This idea is the technology that allows all your small business tools to work together, ultimately helping you make smarter business decisions. Below we pulled out four technology trends that are available now for small businesses, all of which can help you provide a better experience to your customers while improving the bottom line.
Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality
The rapid advance of augmented and virtual reality has made it easily accessible for small business owners. Not only is it more affordable, but the advancement of application development has made it extremely practical as well. For example, furniture stores now use augmented reality to show potential customers how specific products would look in their home before purchasing while realtors provide virtual tours to clients without travelling to the properties location through virtual reality. Not only are these applications super cool, they help save small businesses time while helping the bottom line.
On the retail side, smart mirrors help consumers shopping for clothes by allowing them to scan tags to see complimentary products, like a matching pair of shoes. The same mirrors allow customers to find different product sizes, see alternative colours or even page retail associates. With this collected data, retailers can then analyze consumers’ behaviour to make smarter business decisions. This includes analyzing clothing most frequently tried on, see which items are most often purchased together or see the products tried on but not sold.
In-Store Bluetooth Beacons
Beacons are a form of technology that is actively changing the day-to-day operations of small businesses. These beacons are low-energy Bluetooth devices that send proximity-based push-notifications to nearby smartphones, which in turn allows users to see both contextual and relevant information. For example, beacons can welcome customers who enter a store, then send notifications about discounted products and then loyalty reward points.
Seems like an excellent way to annoy customers, right? Wrong! Way back in 2014(!), a consumer study found that over 70% of consumers welcomed proximity-based push notifications, saying that it would increase the chance of them purchasing a product. Retailers can also use this technology to market specifically towards current customers, offering them personalized discounts and suggestions based on their past purchases. The applications do not stop there. You can pay for customers parking, complete Bluetooth-based transactions, and see the historical movement patterns of customers in your store, all in attempt to make smarter business decisions.
Loblaws made waves in late 2017 by introducing the ability to purchase groceries online and having them ready for pick-up. Predictive ordering is the next step.
Retailers will soon be able to buy and ship products to customers on-demand by merely analyzing their current behaviours and past-buying habits. This technology will automatically order products for customers and have it shipped to them at a moments notice. On the retailer side, new stock will be ordered automatically depending on best selling items. If your boutique wine store sells loads of Austrailian cabernet sauvignon, these new systems will order similarly favourite wine based on a store with similar sales history.
This type of technology will also have a significant impact on the restaurant industry. With specific technology in place, restaurant owners will know how often customers visit and what they usually order. Restaurants will then be able to send automatic push-notifications to frequent customers, reminding them of daily specials, unique promotions, or even asking if they want their favourite meal made-to-go. This will increase the restaurant’s transactions while building a relationship with their customer base.
Did you know that unstocked shelves cost retailers, on average, 4% in potential revenue every year? Crazy right? What this tells us is that consumers would instead opt-out of purchasing a product than buy an existing product alternative. Smart shelves set out to fix this exact problem.
Not only do they let you know when the stock is running low, they automatically order more. These shelves will also display product pricing which allows business owners to adjust pricing to reflect current promotions and inventory levels seamlessly. These shelves will pair with predictive technology as well, suggesting products to customers depending on what they are buying.