Over the course of the past few years, the retail business has undergone a great deal of transformation. The future of retail appears to be considerably different from what it was in the past due to developments such as the proliferation of omnichannel shopping and the growth of e-commerce. And things are only going to pick up the pace and become more exciting from here on out.
Retail is a continually expanding industry that combines technological and customer experience advancements to please customers. Some examples of these advancements include robotic stores, networked kiosks, beacon technology, and contactless checkouts. These technological advancements will have a significant effect on the retail industry. Companies need to be ready to capitalize on the developing trends that are shaping the industry both now and in the long run in order to reap the benefits of these trends.
The development of what is now known as Retail Intelligence
Retailers have traditionally been among the first to adopt new technologies in order to keep their operations operating efficiently and maintain the highest levels of customer satisfaction possible. Because of this, there has been a lot of attention placed on the concept of gathering and analyzing data on their clients from a variety of sources. This has progressed through time to encompass the use of tools based on artificial intelligence and big data.
Despite the fact that these technologies have had an effect on the retail business, many questions have been brought up by both brands and retailers as a result of their implementation. How will we determine whether or not we are gathering the appropriate data? Which questions should we be focusing our attention on asking? How are we going to make sense of the responses? All of these inquiries are valid and require answers in order to move on.
The road that brought us here: a look back at the history of the retail industry
Although augmented reality and virtual reality have been the subject of discussion for several years, substantial implementation of these technologies in the retail sector has only lately taken place. This is probably going to change over the next few years as a result of the continuing decline in pricing and the increased availability of the technology.
By bringing the product into our physical area, augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) have the potential to revolutionize the buying experience. You can, for instance, try on your makeup in an environment that is reminiscent of a spa, or view your apparel on a mannequin that is scaled to your actual size. You can view a product in your kitchen to get an idea of how it functions in real life, or you can view your home in a virtual setting to get a better sense of the available space. Animated and video representations of products can also be brought to life with the use of AR and VR technology.
The Merging of Augmented and Virtual Reality in the Retail Industry
Innovation doesn’t just involve creating new products — it also involves determining which current products and services are worth keeping and which ones aren’t. In order to stay profitable, businesses must regularly review their offerings and decide which items are worth keeping and which should be discontinued or replaced. There may be items that are worth upgrading to stay competitive. There may be items that are no longer relevant or worth the cost to produce and distribute. In order to innovate, you may need to alter your products and services to meet new customer needs or market conditions. If you have a product or service that isn’t bringing in sufficient revenue, you may want to discontinue or replace it with something that is more profitable. This may involve making changes to the product or the way it is marketed, or it may involve ending the service completely.
AI and Intelligent Automation in Retail
Other technologies that have only very recently achieved significant acceptance in the retail sector include artificial intelligence and intelligent automation. By employing computer vision and natural language processing to better understand and communicate with customers in real time, artificial intelligence (AI) has the potential to bring about a revolutionary shift in the way that retail businesses manage the customer experience.
Image recognition and computer vision can work together to help you find what you're looking for. Computer vision can recognize products. For instance, Walmart employed computer vision to identify when customers were browsing their store, and then used that data to recommend products to those customers based on their previous purchases and other information about their preferences.
The concept of shoppable supermarkets has been around for a while, but it wasn't until lately that it caught on with a significant number of consumers. This is probably going to change over the next few years as more people get their hands on the relevant technologies.
Shoppable supermarkets make use of artificial intelligence (AI) and sensor-based technology in order to assist grocery stores in becoming more efficient. This is accomplished by utilizing data obtained from customers regarding the products they have purchased. This enables grocery stores to provide recommendations about other products that may appeal to you based on your previous purchases at the store.
Intelligent Forms of Proximity Marketing
Another development that has only recently gained widespread traction in the retail industry is the smart proximity marketing strategy. Intelligent marketing makes use of the data obtained by merchants to assist the businesses in better comprehending their clientele. For instance, a shoe brand may take both your foot size and shoe size into account in order to tailor a pair of shoes that are a perfect fit for you.
Retailers are able to meaningfully personalize their communications with customers thanks to smart marketing, which makes this possible. It is also able to assist shops in cutting expenses by limiting communications to times when customers are physically present, rather than constantly sending emails or SMS to all of their customers.
Consumer-Oriented Wearable Technologies
Retailers are ready to jump on the bandwagon in order to provide their consumers with a more personalized experience as the popularity of fitness trackers and smartwatches continues to rise. Macy's is doing an experiment with its in-store customers to see how they react to letting them try on virtual makeup looks, while Nordstrom provides its employees with live tracking of their salespeople's exercises.
Wearable technologies have the potential to be invasive, despite the fact that they provide customers a number of benefits. There are several smart watches and fitness trackers that are powered by big data, and while a user is in a store, these devices generate a significant amount of new data. This information could be highly useful to a merchant, but it could also lead to an invasion of privacy, particularly if the retailer stores the data without using encryption.
Brick-and-mortar businesses are adapting to the rise of online shopping.
A significant number of customers have shifted their purchasing habits from online to in-store shopping, and traditional retailers are responding to this shift by improving the level of individualized service they offer to customers who shop in-store rather than online. Macy's "Storescapes" team organizes in-store events based on popular online conversations about products, whereas Nordstrom's "Personal Shopper" service provides clients with one-on-one assistance when they are having trouble selecting an item to purchase.
Consumers have come to anticipate that stores will provide services that are easy to use, and these services give a means for merchants to satisfy this requirement. These services also provide a means for merchants to give their clients a more personalized shopping experience by bringing the store to the location of the customer rather than the customer going to the merchant's location.
Retailers need to keep their attention fixed on the goal of providing their customers with a consistent and enjoyable experience, regardless of the channel via which the customers are engaging with the brand. This entails adjusting to alterations in the manner in which people shop, such as the rising popularity of doing such transactions online.
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