New technologies, changing shopping habits and the threat of disruptive competitors like Amazon, are some of the aspects forcing a paradigm shift that is seeing retailers focus on new strategies to stay competitive.
Marketing Manager at Eurostop, Deborah Loh noted how by using the right technology to provide shoppers with the services they need, retailers that get it right should see an increase to their bottom line. As such, with the disruptive pace of technology and its effect on the retail establishments, we’d like to highlight 5 tech trends that will be shaping the future of this industry.
Growing Use of Smartphones
Smartphones have become ingrained in consumers’ everyday lives and retailers are seeing these devices used in every step of the shopping journey. Over 84% of households in the UK use a smartphone, and consumers are increasingly using them to shop online or in-store to check for deals from the retailer or its competitors. They are also using them for contactless mobile checkouts in-store, and as a result, retailers are investing in new technologies that make checkouts quick, efficient and easy. Worldpay’s mobile card machines show how modern payment devices can process contactless payments through smartphones via Android Pay, Samsung Pay, or Apple Pay. If the Wi-Fi is weak, it can even process payments through Bluetooth. Additionally, in-app shopping capabilities allow customers to purchase and pay for an item through the app and pick up their merchandise in-store.
Adoption of Augmented and Extended Reality
Through the use of technology, retailers now have innovative ways to enhance the customer shopping experience. From browsing products to trying them on virtually, extended reality offers shoppers an interactive shopping experience. For example, IKEA’s ARKit app helps customers determine whether the furniture they want will fit their space and look good with their home décor. Clothing brands like Tilly’s also offer an extended reality experience that helps their customers explore different clothes and accessories to virtually trying them on to see how they look. Extended reality will soon come to be widely adopted and increase pressure on brick-and-mortar stores to keep customers coming back with new and innovative experiences.
Think Minority Report and the scene where Tom Cruise walks through the subway station and holographic targeted individualised ads pop up into his eye line. While holographic technology is not quite there yet, facial recognition is now being used by brick-and-mortar stores to actively fight shoplifting and retail crime. The tech is seeing increased use in providing a more personalised shopping experience where a customer is identified through facial recognition and the store’s staff can respond to that customer’s unique needs. While this leaves a lot of privacy issues up in the air, nonetheless, the future of retail is heading in the direction of highly customised and individualised shopping experiences.
Introduction of Artificial Intelligence
As retailers seek to redefine themselves to keep up with changing customer demands, Medium describes a new and emerging customer to manufactory (C2M) business model. It leverages the capability of AI and predictive data to enable manufacturers to optimise their products in exact accordance with customer demand. AI, big data and computer vision and sensor technologies enable robotic automation like chatbots and unmanned systems in retail scenarios (much like Amazon’s drone delivery), reducing costs and improving the customer experience.
Evolving Privacy Concerns
Retailers that can guarantee customer data will be used responsibly are likely to see more market share in the coming years. Technology journalist Esther Shein explains that customers are inclined more than ever to cross the road over to the competition, and even pay a premium if that’s where they believe their personal information will be secure. Privacy concerns and misinformation will threaten brand credibility and retailers must understand that anything they do can be made public, thus, providing an even stronger impetus to follow sound business practices.