Retail SMBs: Emerging Technology is Not Out of Your Reach

By David Salisbury, VP of Sales and Marketing, Star Cloud Services

Although the retail industry continues to see an increase in technology resources, for many retail SMBs, concepts like data analytics and the Internet of Things (IoT) might seem like investments and expertise out of their reach and comfort zone. Having fewer resources and employees than large brick-and-mortar stores, SMBs might be tempted to overlook the latest market solutions, believing they are too expensive or too advanced for their needs and capabilities.

Thanks to the widespread availability of technology however, SMBs today have the same opportunities as the big box stores. Inexpensive and easy use tools are available to help them understand their customers, interact with them, and provide what they want faster. Advanced solutions don’t have to break the bank and can make a significant difference for retailers trying to stay abreast of changing trends.

Implementing IoT in the Store

IoT continues to be the talk of the town in retail, as the industry is seeing the host of benefits it provides. Although some companies are holding off on adopting the new technology to see where it goes, industry specialists warn that having a “wait-and-see approach” for too long might be harmful in the end. “If you’re not trying something new in some area of your operations, you’re moving backward,” Perry Kramer, vice president and practice lead at research firm Boston Retail Partners told BizTech. “Everything is changing so rapidly, you can’t afford to stand still for long or you’ll never be able to catch up.”

SMBs wanting to take advantage of IoT need to look no further than their countertops. Commonly used items every retailer has, like their receipt printer, provide a wealth of data accessible to any SMB. This digital transaction data for example, provides valuable insights to help improve the customer experience, putting retailers in a better position to continue growing their business.

Latching On to Beacons

Beacons are another notable technological advancement disseminating through the retail landscape. Although they were introduced in 2013, the small devices that communicate with shoppers’ phones to send them notifications and promotions while they’re in the store still haven’t been widely adopted. The primary stores that have deployed beacon technology are massive retailers like Target or Macy’s. However, for SMBs, beacons are a low-cost investment that can provide a valuable ROI. In 2015 Business Insider Intelligence noted that beacons were expected to directly influence $4 billion of U.S. retail sales; in 2016, that is expected to increase to $44 billion.

The tenfold increase in these figures indicate the opportunity that retailers have by incorporating beacon technology. And, as more manufacturers begin looking to take advantage of the market opportunity, beacons will likely continue to become more affordably priced.

Whether it’s IoT, beacons, or something else entirely, implementing new technologies allows retail SMBs to create new opportunities to engage with shoppers and provide them a more personalized shopping experiences, tailored exactly to what they want.

Star Micronics subsidiary, Star Cloud Services was built to bring IoT solutions to retailers by enabling the more than six million Star Micronics POS printers in stores today to become cloud-connected devices. Star Cloud Services has the unique ability to transform shopping receipts into valuable digital transaction data. With that data, retailers gain deeper insights that help them better engage, activate and retain shoppers.

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