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Children’s toy and games retailer Toys R Us is trialling the use of tablets in its brick-and-mortar locations to help store staff improve interactions with customers.
Frank Muzika, UK lead executive at Toys R Us, told the 2017 Retail Business Technology Expo (RBTE) that the retailer has rolled out two iPads in each of its stores across the UK to give store advisors easy access to product information.
“We have to make the store experience altogether more powerful in every way, and one way to do that is to engage with the customer with advanced technology,” he said.
As more consumers choose to make purchases through online channels, stores are now becoming destinations for experiences as opposed to simply locations for making purchases.
Muzika said by allowing sales associates to carry a tablet with an endless aisle system included, they had more information about available products and have a better idea of whether the product is available in the store or not.
The retailer’s trial for the in-store tablets is helping customers to select the right car seat for their child, with an application on the iPad allowing store attendants to filter products based on the vehicle it will be used it, the child’s age and the customer’s budget.
Since this type of purchase is very important for customers, the extra information and advice available helps to solidify a purchase and increases the personal interaction between the store staff and the customer.
Basket sizes and sales have increased since the introduction of this in-store technology, according to Muzika, and the retailer has witnessed a 400% uplift in tablet-assisted sales versus normal store upsale since they introduced the capability.
Once other core metrics such as basket size and conversion as a share of total sales is assessed to see how well the in-store tablets are working the firm hopes to introduce other capabilities, such as signing customers up to the retailer’s loyalty scheme through roaming tablets to grow its customer relationship management data.
Muzika said: “We need to capture more customer data and the use of iPads and loyalty sign-ups is helping to fuel the explosive growth we’ve seen in this area.”
Creating a seamless shopping experience
The firm also hopes to make these shop floor tablets mobile point-of-sale (POS) systems in the future, and the brand will be looking to its staff members to see what applications they feel need to be launched on the devices.
By implementing in-store tablets as POS systems, the retailer can help to make the in-store experience more frictionless. It is also considering introducing a take time to pay (TTTP) model where customers can reserve items, pay a deposit and pick the item up at a later date.
These are just some of the small things Toys R Us is doing to try to make stores “destinations”. Muzika said the retailer is “re-inventing” its physical spaces to provide an “attractive showroom for a product that provides a fun physical experience”.
The Toys R Us stores are becoming more interactive by introducing products such as “magic mirrors” that display virtual reality characters and spaces where children can try out products.
The brand has also created smaller stores for the first time, acting as a sub-set of its larger warehouse stores to give consumers a feel for the brand and its products.
“In a world where it takes a lot to get the customer off his sofa, we must make the store a wonderful place,” said Muzika.
To ensure this technology-led store experience is joined up across all of the brand’s channels, Toys R US is also continually working on its e-commerce platform to try to offer a personalised, omni-channel experience to its consumers.
Smartphones have changed the way that consumers shop and interact with brands, and Toys R Us has found that its babies and toys departments see the most sales online (27.7%).
But Muzika reminded the RBTE audience that these are “early days” for the retailer’s digital transformation.
Though the retail industry is in the “eye of the mobile storm” in terms of the technology it is choosing to adopt, competition will only become fiercer if firms do not focus on improving customer data and insights.
“We want to not only stay relevant and drive sales growth but, fundamentally, survive. It’s what consumers want, and what consumers want is what we have to give to them,” said Muzika.
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