Intelligent, connected technology is profoundly transforming the customer journey in the retail, hospitality and restaurant industries. Businesses need to rise to the challenge.
You walk into your hotel room, tired from the long flight. The lighting is subtle and warm, not harsh, the room temperature just right, the news is playing quietly on the TV and there are just the right number of pillows on the bed. And all of this arranged before you even arrive at the hotel.
It’s not magic. It’s technology.
The hospitality, retail and restaurant industries are changing and technology is leading the charge.
Interaction between smart, connected devices is helping to create a harmony: one feel, one interaction across multiple media and platforms that will cut costs, increase efficiency and push personalised, customer-controlled experiences to the fore.
The role of businesses in these industries is to break down the barriers between employees and consumers and orchestrate personalised, unforgettable customer experiences.
Retailers, hoteliers and restaurateurs who fail to do this run the risk of being eclipsed by tech-savvy rivals.
The recession has shown the door to a number of large, established retailers - Woolworths being one among many.
But with instability comes opportunity. Forward-thinking retailers are using technology not to replace the human interaction of physical stores but enhance it. They’re re-inventing the bricks-and-mortar store.
Uniqlo’s 5th Avenue store in New York, for instance, uses large format displays (LFDs) to act as dynamic digital signage and show off the latest and greatest products, all controlled remotely from the company’s Japanese headquarters.
Similarly, Nordstrom, the American fashion retailer, co-created an app with their customers that helps shoppers choose the perfect sunglasses.
It’s about creating a more interactive, intuitive and dynamic buying experience for the customer. It’s theatre for the shopper.
The first thing they notice is the Goldilocks temperature, controlled by a modern, efficient air conditioning system.
Next are the multiple large LFDs, like Samsung’s 95-inch ME95C, the world’s largest professional LED edge-lit display, with life-size models showcasing the season’s latest trends – the mannequin finally gets a makeover.
But they also offer a more intimate, personal touch. Shoppers tap their smartphone on an interactive screen upon arrival and are provided with a personalised map based on data about their past searches and purchases, highlighting relevant departments, showing related new products and listing what’s in stock. A nearby wireless printer allows them to seamlessly print off a hard copy of the tailored information.
Staff complement these interactions, using tablets as mobile point-of-sale systems and to answer customer queries on the spot; no more disappearing into the stock room.
It’s the best of both worlds – the convenience of online with the experience of in-store making a reality of ‘omnichannel’ retail.
The future of hospitality is personalisation.
Ninety-two percent of hoteliers believe that, by 2020, guests will expect their stay to be tailored by a series of choices they make before they even arrive, according to Samsung’s 'Transforming the Guest Experience' white paper.
Smart, connected technology will let guests skip the queue at reception and arrive to a room prepared to their unique specifications: lights dimmed, correct temperature, TV set to their preferred channel and a mini bar stocked with their tipple of choice.
Using an app to check into a hotel is nothing new but the experience will become more fluid and far-reaching. The app will recognize previous bookings, using your saved preferences; act as a check-in system; provide you with a digital key for your room and give you information about the hotel’s facilities and local area.
An in-room tablet will be used to adjust the efficient LED lighting, blinds, heating and air conditioning.
Need to print something off before you hit the conference? Easy. With Samsung’s near-field communication (NFC) and Secure Release technology you can just tap your smartphone on the printer in the business centre to release your document from the printing queue.
And, with no room key to hand in, leaving is easy. Settle the bill and check out using the in-room tablet and away you go.
These changes ease the burden on hotel staff and give guests an unforgettable experience that they control, ultimately translating into more repeat business and profit.
The restaurant of the future, now
New technology will enhance both ends of the spectrum of the restaurant industry – fast food outlets to luxury dining.
Mobile point-of-sale and self-service systems will streamline quick-serve restaurants and LFDs and mobile devices will enhance the human element of restaurant service, rather than get in the way of it.
LFDs, embedded Samsung’s smart signage platform (SSSP) software, will act as dynamic message boards, switching between content seamlessly, whether its a digital menu, changing during the course of the day and indicating options that take longer to prepare, or a birthday message for a regular customer.
Waiters and waitresses will use tablets, like Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 2 10.1, to take orders and provide on-the-spot information about the food, such as nutritional value and source, and any changes to the advertised menu. This avoids servers having to leave the table and check with the manager or kitchen staff about offers and changes to the menu.
It’s dining 2.0.
Re-imagining the customer experience
In all of these industries, the object of technology is to re-invent the customer journey and merge the best of physical, online and mobile to create a personalised, engaging and intuitive experience for the consumer.
Technology is also at work backstage.
LFDs with SSSP software keep employees informed about changes to shifts, stock issues and emergencies while connected mobile devices allow staff to communicate and collaborate effectively no matter where they are. It keeps the operation fluid and efficient.
In addition, much of the technology is cost-effective and green.
• Samsung’s LED lighting provides power savings of 80 percent for the life of the bulb and last 40 times longer than regular bulbs.
• The d-LED BLU technology on Samsung’s LFDs uses less electricity than traditional cold cathode fluorescent lamp displays, meaning lower operating costs.
• Efficient, smart air conditioning systems, like Samsung’s DVM VRF system, paired with sensors to detect an unoccupied room, can drastically reduce unnecessary power usage.
Those who choose to embrace these new technologies choose a dynamic architecture of clever, connected devices that will improve customer engagement, streamline processes and, ultimately, boost profits.