Retailers are ramping up for the holidays… and they’re getting technical about it

As technology continues to advance and social media further integrates itself into people’s professional and personal lives, retailers are relying on interactive tools to welcome customers through theirdoorsthisholidayseason.Competitionis fierce in the midst of a consumer culture, making it necessary for stores to develop new methods for reaching customers in person and online. Staying at the head of the pack is paramount for stores who wish to stay in business long after the flurry of holiday shopping has died down.

Although Black Friday and Cyber Monday have passed, the shopping season has only begun. In additiontooffering early shopping hours for customers anxious to cross toys, electronics, and woodworking tools off their shopping lists, some stores now use smartphone applications to draw in – and retain – their customer base. The glitter and flash of the holiday season can be overwhelming to some consumers, making it necessary for retailers to grab buyers’ attention any way they can.

Given the ease with which customers walk out of stores when their needs aren’t being met, retailers like Macy’s have begun using quick response codes to move shoppers from the front door to the cash register. Capitalizing on the widespread use of smartphones, consumers can scanthecodes as they comparison shop, as well as receive alerts about deals. Macy’s in particular offers a feature called Backstage Pass, which enhances shoppers’ experiences throughout the store, granting them access to video messages from high-profile individuals like Martha Stewart. What is really a call to action disguises itself well as a special new kind of shopping experience.When shopping this holiday season, customers would be wise to:1. Approach purchasing gifts wisely. Though the temptation to impulse buy is high, be sure items virtually or literally weighing down that shopping cart will go to good use. A deal is only as good as the product’s life off the shelf.

2. Consider going online to take advantage of sale offers. There’s little sense in standing in long lines or trying to be the first customer in the store in the morning if purchases can just as easily be made from the comfort of the home.

3. Shop with a list. Retailers will draw in customers with advertising deals in a circular, via a direct mail promotion, or offering special in-store shopping advantages, but consumers who keep an ‘eye on the prize’ can realize a quicker and more pleasant shopping experience.

Technological innovation has long made people’s lives easier. Given the ubiquity and frequently-released updates for smartphones, it was only a matter of time before consumers could use them to enhance their shopping experience. Customer service is far from dead; it just wears a different color hat now.