6 Ways Technology Helps People Get Exactly What They Want
May 19, 2017
British writer Arthur C. Clarke once said, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”
When you consider the recent tech advances in today’s retail industry, this certainly rings true. “Magical” is actually a pretty accurate way to describe how fast, convenient and effortless technology has made it for consumers to … well, consume.
For retailers who hadn’t done so in the past, as of 2020 it became a necessity to use today’s technology and advances in digital outreach to their advantage. And we’re not just talking e-commerce and online shopping capabilities, but the way technology can help retailers provide a heightened customer experience from awareness, to sale and beyond. Today’s consumers have come to not only appreciate this type of customer experience, but they expect nothing less. The benefit to the retailer: The customer keeps coming back.
So how is tech currently helping merchants find and retain customers — while at the same time helping retail consumers find exactly what they are looking for? Here are six of the most prominent strategies you should be putting into practice.
Consumers Are Reading, Researching and Reviewing
With social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook TikTok and Pinterest, consumers now have more access and exposure to products, inspiration and digital shopping experiences than ever before. According to a recent study, in 2020, nearly 41% of customers said they were currently shopping online for things they would normally buy in-store.1 With recent e-commerce rollouts like Instagram Shops and Facebook Marketplace, a user can even shop directly within many of these platforms, enabling digital transaction and ease.
People also often flock to these same platforms when they are in the early stages of a project or shopping decision. For instance, 85 percent of Pinners say they use Pinterest to plan new projects.2 Consumers can scour consumer advocacy websites and YouTube videos to research virtually any product. And it’s easier than ever to write and read customer reviews — the perennial tried and true “word of mouth” marketing strategy — whether it’s by customers on a retailer’s website, a dedicated review site like Yelp or (naturally) social media. “Influencers” are called such for a very good reason!
Easier Gift Exchanges = Enhanced Customer Experience
It used to be that returning or exchanging an unwanted gift meant a reluctant trip to the store or a visit to the post office, standing in line, wasting precious daylight hours away from more important matters. In today’s digital landscape, retailers have made it increasingly seamless for consumers to make online returns in ways that are much more convenient. For example, innovations like “1-Click” on retail websites allow gift recipients to view and exchange gifts even before receiving them.
Technology has even reduced the need for returns and exchanges by helping ensure the right gifts are given in the first place. Online wish lists, eGift cards, and other innovative virtual gift exchange methods have changed — and continue to change — the way we both gift others and shop ourselves.
Transparency Is Key
In today’s shopping world, customers control the conversation. They’re smarter, they’re savvier and they have the resources at their fingertips to determine whether they want to patronize your business even before they step inside your doors.
The “magic” that helps them decide you are worthy of their business and their trust: your company’s level of transparency. This can be done a variety of ways, including giving customers access to real-time information and insights, responding quickly to customers’ needs, and even owning up to errors and shortcomings. Studies show that more than 80% of consumers use transparency as a major factor in deciding with which retailers they will (or will not) do business.3
For example, apps like TrueCar help buyers see and compare prices on a given item. With TrueCar, a customer has access to information and can see real-time, market-based pricing on new and used cars for sale around the country. That transparency helps customers make an informed decision when they go to the car lot or dealership, thereby increasing the dealer’s ability to make a sale.
Crowdsourced Platforms: The Ultimate Word-of-Mouth
Consumers listen to other consumers. In fact, 93% of consumers say that online reviews influenced their purchase decisions.4 Crowdsourcing platforms that compile verified customer product and service reviews from across the internet show how technology has not only advanced the retail industry, but has shaped the way we as consumers seek information.
Reddit, the world’s largest crowdsourcing platform, is a great example of this one-stop shop approach that helps consumers weigh their buying options. Because people trust the opinions of their friends and like-minded consumers, Reddit and similar digital platforms continue to grow in popularity as the go-to sites for honest, organic product reviews and testimonials.
Augmented Reality Boosts Shopper Confidence
One of the downsides of shopping (especially online) is the possibility that your customers are often just guessing whether the product they want will fit the style of their home — or, even more importantly, will physically fit in the space intended for it. That’s why more and more retailers are providing a virtual test run of their products through augmented reality (AR). This technology allows the customer to superimpose a 3D virtual product in the user's physical space. This composite view gives customers more confidence in how the product will look, fit and feel within their personal home setting.
It’s no surprise, then, that over 90% of Americans are using or would use AR when it comes to shopping.5 When deciding on certain furniture pieces, appliances and electronics, this technological advancement can be really handy in making sure a customer takes home the right item for their particular space.
Point-of-Sale Leasing Is Gaining in Popularity
Many retailers understand that people often need financial help when shopping for important, big-ticket life-items. However, not many provide solutions for this consumer group. Acima’s simple online or mobile lease application — filled out in minutes at the point of sale — helps people shop now, pay later for furniture, kitchen appliances, car tires and more immediately.
By providing the “no credit option” of lease-to-own* at the checkout counter, retailers can ease the process for customers, allowing them to get the items that they really want today. The result: They don’t have to settle for a cheaper product out of necessity/immediate need, go into unnecessary debt, rely on credit or pay large amounts of cash up front.
Put New Tech to Work for You and Your Customers
How fortunate consumers are to live during the modern retail experience! Through online tools such as research, exchanges, transparent sources, crowdsourced platforms, augmented reality and point-of-sale leasing, they can get the things they really want quickly, conveniently and effortlessly — almost like magic!
So if your company isn’t offering Acima to credit-challenged customers, it’s time to put shopping power back into their hands — just like thousands of name-brand retailers already do. Learn more about what exactly a lease with Acima looks like and how it can be a smart financial decision for you and your customers.