One notable change brought about by the pandemic was the need for retailers to transform digitally. Retailers large and small are now embracing and implementing new digital retail technologies to achieve operational efficiencies, meet customer needs, overcome labor shortages, and more.
However, it can be challenging to understand what types of retail technology trends are taking the industry by storm. Read on to learn more about the top technology trends in retail and their impact on the industry in the remaining months of 2022.
In-store shopping is becoming more about the customer experience in addition to sales. Stores now have to compete with online retailers who are convenient and affordable to provide exceptional service to everyone who walks through the door. Retailers can use new technologies to elevate their CX and strengthen their experiential retail strategy.
For example, some stores are experimenting with augmented and virtual reality for their customer experience. Shoe brand TOMS uses VR in 100 stores, virtually transporting customers to Peru to see the positive effects of TOMS’ social impact campaign.
As their name suggests, contactless stores use advanced technology to enable seamless shopping without touching. The goal is to minimize the amount of contact or friction that a customer would normally experience in a traditional store. One of the most famous examples of a contactless store is Amazon Go.
Amazon Go locations use advanced Just Walk Out technology — including computer vision, sensor fusion and deep learning. Customers scan a barcode to enter the store, pick up the items they need, and exit. The technology tracks what people take off the shelves and adds it to the customer’s virtual shopping cart. After leaving the store, they pay using a pre-stored payment method.
Talk of the metaverse has dominated the headlines lately, especially in the big tech industry. Famous tech leader Mark Zuckerberg reportedly predicts around one billion people will use the Metaverse in the future. It will be a central hub built around the retail sector and social connections.
While Metaverse is not yet mainstream, some brands are getting ahead. Luxury brand Louis Vuitton has launched Louis The Game — a mobile game with unique, embedded and exclusive NFTs. Retailers interested in building a Metaverse presence will require new IT skills in-house or with high-performing, established vendors.
Many e-commerce companies use marketing automation technologies to handle routine tasks so that marketers can spend time on high-level projects. For example, marketing automation programs are capable of:
- Recording customer information
- Organizing customers into segments
- Send automated emails or other marketing messages
- Serving ads to customers based on the segments they are in
- Analyze customer habits, preferences and demographics
Marketing automation solutions can help retailers increase conversion rates and sales, among other benefits. This automation essentially pays for itself as retailers use it, so it’s a modern piece of retail technology that many expect to evolve.
- Buy online, collect in store
One trend that has taken over retail in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic is the “buy online, pick up in store” model. For this business model to work, retailers must implement certain technologies for their operations and end users. Customers should be able to scroll through a retail website and see what products are available in real-time, order their products, and pick up their orders within the same day.
As a result, retailers must gain greater visibility into their inventory, which may require them to use inventory and supply chain management solutions. Additionally, stores must have a mobile app and an established online presence for this model to work successfully. BOPIS retailers can also improve CX using AR, geolocation or perimeter sensors.
This is another trend in retail that requires companies to use new technologies. According to McKinsey, customer personalization will be a major driver of marketing success in the next five years.
For example, companies like Macy’s, Starbucks, and Sephora use GPS technology to send customers relevant ads, notifications, or discounts if they are near a store. Some provide sales associates with applications that automatically generate personalized customer recommendations.
Retailers need to know which technologies can deliver the greatest ROI, drive higher conversion rates and increase revenue by the end of 2022.
Using retail technology trends to guide investment decisions
The past few years have been unprecedented and unexpected for retail. Retailers have had to contend with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, ongoing supply chain disruptions, and ever-changing customer expectations and behaviors.
As a result, the pandemic has accelerated the need for retail to embrace digital technologies. Retailers should refer to the list above to decide which technologies can bring the greatest benefit to their business.
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Devin Partida writes about AI, applications and technology at ReHack.com, where she is editor-in-chief.