This year looks to be another exciting, crazy year for the retail industry. Technology continues to transform and expand virtually every aspect of the retail experience. We discuss the benefits of integrating enterprise mobility solutions into your business in this article.
These retail tech trends can make or break your business this year. Adopt early as an innovator and gain loyal new fans – and customers. Lag behind and you could see existing customers slip to the competition. That’s why it’s so important to understand what’s coming and start thinking about how to assimilate these retail tech trends into your own business.
In recent years, the trend was toward store-based geolocation. When customers passed within a certain distance of your store, you could send them push notifications with reminders, promotions, or other informational content. You could even tier it so that passing within give miles might trigger one message, and within 100 yards another.
Today that seems old hat (although still effective). Today, geolocation services are taking an evolutionary step… inside your store.
With these new mobile app capabilities, retailers track where customers travel within a store. This gives them personal shopping data that transcends the purchasing data being collected now. You’ll discover individual and group traffic patterns, areas where customers linger – and areas they avoid.
You can use this data to improve your in-store marketing as well as to customize the offers you present. You can even trigger real-time offers to help close a sale. See a customer pausing in your widget aisle? Send them a personalized offer via push notification – while they’re standing right there!
Sephora is one retailer already doing this. During one of their promotions, members who paused in or near their Beauty Studio received free mobile invites for mini-makeovers.
Virtual and Augmented Reality
Retail stores are starting to see how augmented reality features on mobile devices can enhance their in-store displays. Target a QR code – or perhaps even just the product itself – and you can open up a wealth of new informational content for the customer.
This content ranges from commercial videos to 3D interactive displays, from financing options to how-to videos. All that marketing content you never had room for on the sales floor – well, there’s room for all of it in the cloud.
Retailers who use augmented reality to help customers see themselves with the product are the ones who will win big with this trend.
As the Harvard Business Review predicts, “the successful incorporation of VR and AR into retail models also has the potential to vastly change the way retailers are thinking about stores of the future.” As examples, it gives someone trying on a shirt without visiting a store, and two people in different parts of the country shopping together.
Right now, retailer Bed, Bath and Beyond is using augmented reality to present customers with 360° views of their products, and to show customers what products would look like in colors and patterns that aren’t available at their current location.
Flexible Payment Systems
The cash registers at the front of your store often serve as the biggest bottleneck in your operations. They can also be a deterrent for customers, especially those with minor or spontaneous purchases.
By harnessing the power of mobile systems, your store could provide checkout services virtually anywhere. Any associate could offer cashless checkouts, eliminating the need for customers to visit the front registers altogether. You could also create a system where associates could “add” products to a customer’s cloud-based cart. This could have significant advantages for stores with commission-based sales, or simply for sales tracking and training.
On busy weekends, Sam’s Club will send scanners roving down their checkout lanes. These associates scan each cart well before it reaches the register and stores the information. The result, of course, is a much quicker checkout process. Now imagine this same system in place anywhere in the store, allowing customers to bypass those checkout lanes altogether.
How would your customers feel about shopping if they knew they wouldn’t have to wait in a checkout line? How much more business do you think you would get?
Internet of Things
The Internet of Things (IoT) is rapidly changing the way many retailers do business. That’s because it can impact both how customers interact with products and how companies source those products from their own inventories and supply chains.
On the customer facing side, the applications are nothing short of revolutionary. Even many retailers using IoT technologies now are simply not thinking big enough. According to How the Internet of Things is Revolutionizing Retail on CIO.com, IoT enables “everything from electronic shelf labels with dynamic pricing and self-checkout with smartphones to interactive digital signs that know who is in front of them and can tailor promotions to the individual.”
On the supply chain side, SAS consultant Dan Mitchell explains in the same CIO article: “RFID tags and sensors are one of the most important IoT technologies to watch. By using RFID, retailers can increase inventory accounting accuracy, dramatically reduce out-of-stocks and reduce product loss, all of which can result in margin growth. And with an accurate real-time understanding of where inventory is located, retailers can make cost-based decisions on the fly to best fulfill customer needs across channels.”
New Digital Storefronts
Selling your products online isn’t just about your website anymore. It’s about knowing all the channels available and picking the right ones to grow your business. These channels include:
- Vendor storefronts inside massive online retail sites like Amazon.com, Walmart.com, and Bestbuy.com
- Mobile storefronts within your own (or a partner’s) mobile and/or web applications
- Social media storefronts being made available by sites like Facebook
Facebook, in particular, is changing the rules in 2017 as they continue to push their sales platform within the social media site. But what’s making these new digital storefronts more exciting has less to do with the sites themselves and more to do with the inventory systems behind them.
IoT technology allows retail chains to see each store as a distribution center, enabling them to operate multiple digital storefronts without the logistical inventory nightmares of the past.
More Retail Tech Trends to Consider
Here are a few more retail tech trends making noise in 2017, according to CIO:
- Instant and social messaging
- Transformation of store associates into high-tech nubs
- Chatbots and artificial intelligence
- Retail-specific APIs
- Seamless mobile payments
- Digital convergence
Just one of these ideas could be the spark to ignite your business growth. Don’t sit 2017 out, watching as your competition puts these retail tech trends into motion. Let Decision Point help you harness the power of these trends. Start your retail transformation by calling Decision Point today.