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GUEST COMMENT How can UK retailers use technology to help shoppers during the cost of living crisis? 

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Jessica Grisolia is senior manager, industry solutions management at Scandit

The weekly food shop has become a fight to find the best price. With UK food price inflation at the highest level since the global financial crisis in 2008, and UK shoppers facing a £454 increase in their annual grocery bills, it is time for retailers to find innovative ways to help.

Delivering promotions at speed will be essential to win and retain customers, yet retailers need the right infrastructure in place to support store associates in this mission. In the global fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) market, 44% of products are increasing in price. In response, retailers need to show their customers that they can still offer great value, despite inflationary pressures. 

The lure of bargains is just one piece of the puzzle. To attract shoppers and keep them coming back for more, retailers must focus on offering the right product assortment, quality, and personalised rewards, offering a true omnichannel experience.

Promotion errors break customer trust

For retailers to enforce new pricing and promotion strategy, it is vital that they can keep track of what is on their shelves, stockroom levels, and pricing labels on the shopfloor. Stock checks, price changes and applying discounts are usually performed manually by store associates scanning each individual item, however, this can prove complex and time consuming. This results in inevitable human error, with staff unable to accurately update offers and promotions for thousands of SKUs.

Even with the best will in the world, errors slip through the cracks, causing friction for customers and issues at the checkout. With budgets more squeezed than ever, failing to follow through on promotions at checkout erodes customer trust. In fact, one report showed that  57% of customers are losing faith in retailers due to pricing inconsistency and inaccuracy, with four in five unwilling to shop in the same store again if they are overcharged. When competition for customer loyalty and pressure on margins are at an all time high, retailers cannot afford to miss precious sales opportunities and lose customers for good. 

However, retailers can ensure that promotions and discounts are actioned accurately by using smart data capture technology. If they ditch cumbersome, legacy scanning equipment for existing smart devices whose user interfaces are second nature for employees, time consuming tasks are transformed. Using smartphone scanning, store associates can simply scan whole shelves for real-time visibility of stock levels, automating stock counts and making it easy for any staff member to handle price and promotion updates.

Retailers get personal

Accurately placed, priced and promoted inventory is key to delivering a consistent in-store and online customer experience. Extending smart capture technology to customers is an innovative way to grow brand loyalty and personalise their experience on and offline, whilst driving an increase in sales. When delivered successfully, personalised promotions can provide a 4-8% sales increase, matching predefined offers to customers who have the highest likelihood of buying them.

For instance, UK convenience store leader Nisa leveraged smart data capture technology in their mobile app-based vouchering system Scan & Save. When shopping in store, customers are able to benefit from exclusive promotions via an AR overlay, where they can then save and redeem directly from their mobile device. The app allows customers to pay via their device’s NFC technology and delivers personalised campaigns based on their profile, shopping habits, and location.

Pricing and promotion are a core part of employees’ day-to-day tasks and must be delivered accurately and at speed. New omnichannel grocery requirements have increased the demands on store associates to multitask, and retailers must provide the right tools to keep pace. Smart data capture technology and tools give staff the support they need and customers the promotions they demand. Retailers need to support customers through these tough economic times, or risk losing them for good.

Jessica Grisolia is senior manager, industry solutions management at Scandit

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