With e-commerce taking the retail world by storm, it’s easy to write off brick-and-mortar businesses as old-fashioned. But when was the last time you went inside an actual place of business? Chances are it was less than a week ago, if not sooner. The truth is brick-and-mortar businesses aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.
If anything, digital technology is helping brick-and-mortar businesses thrive. Throw in additional state-of-the-art technologies, and there are many improvements and upgrades for helping B&Ms compete against Amazon and the other titans of online retail.
Here are six improvements and upgrades for brick-and-mortar businesses:
EV charging stations
Electric vehicle sales are on the rise. While the soaring price of gas is the main reason why more people are turning to EVs, the $7500 electric vehicle tax credit doesn’t hurt either. With this in mind, B&M business owners should consider installing one or more EV charging stations in their parking lot. Doing so provides an incentive for EV owners to stop by and shop, as they can browse while recharging their batteries. It may even keep them shopping longer as they wait for their EV to reach maximum charge. With so many people driving EVs today, charging stations are destined to become a standard feature found in all parking lots and garages, so doing it now gets it out of the way.
Many consumers work jobs that keep them from shopping during regular business hours. Rather than lose out on sales, consider installing parcel lockers outside your storefront. Combined with a mobile app or streamlined phone-based customer service apparatus, these lockers enable consumers to make purchases remotely and pick their items up later. These lockers can also be used by people looking for a secure way to retrieve items bought online. By stopping by to pick up their packages, they’re more likely to stop into your store and shop around.
The pandemic led to the rapid implementation of curbside pickup options for customers. While it might seem like a temporary solution, many B&M businesses are keeping it as a permanent feature. The convenience of curbside pickup options means more sales with minimum investment. No business app? No problem; customers can call and notify you when they’re outside, and you can run their items out to them or have an employee do it.
Another convenient technology used by B&Ms around the world is self-checkout. While self-checkout is associated with supermarkets and department stores, the technology has become a cost-effective solution for smaller retailers as well. By implementing self-checkout in your B&M business, you save money while your customers save time. Everyone wins! However, since many customers still prefer the traditional checkout process, consider making it a secondary option for when the normal line is backed up. That way, you aren’t alienating any of your long-term customers by asking them to adapt to new technology; make it optional.
Facial recognition software
It might sound creepy, but facial recognition software is already utilized by major retailers like Wal-Mart and Target. The affordability of this technology compared to as recently as five years ago means smaller B&Ms can take advantage of its benefits. From reducing theft to helping business owners have a better gauge of customer spending habits, facial recognition software will no doubt help B&M business owners save money and improve customer service.
It might sound like something out of science fiction, but robots are being used by brick-and-mortar businesses to track inventory. These robots work by going up and down the aisles, scanning barcodes as they go. It sure beats paying someone to do this! By investing in inventory robots, B&M business owners lower overheads, increase efficiency and make their business appear advanced and sophisticated. You might have people popping in simply because their child wants to go say hi to the robot!
With so many people shopping online, brick-and-mortar businesses might seem antiquated. But we all know we still do a lot of our shopping in person, meaning B&Ms are still relevant and profitable. Better yet, B&M business owners can make improvements and upgrades using advanced technology as a way to remain competitive.
Julie Steinbeck is a freelance writer from Florida. She enjoys covering topics related to business, finance, and travel.