If necessity is the mother of invention, then no business segment follows that credo more than retail. Companies are constantly adapting to new consumer demands, trends, quirks and behaviors. And increasingly, that means integrating technology deeper and wider into their operations, to the benefit of employees, customers and of course profits.
What’s on the technical horizon for retail? Here’s our take:
Retailers are creating a clear path to purchase on social, mobile, and all media. This means including informative content and convenient interactive options that inspire confidence in pressing the “add to shopping cart” button.
At the physical store level, technology is helping to enhance experiences at every touchpoint. Digital signage and touch screens expose people to complementary products and services, rewards programs and discounts, as well as the ability to sign-up for newsletters and alerts.
These smarter environments, which are growing in numbers, provide employees with better data and thus the ability to deliver more personalized service. They know customer preferences, purchase histories, even what they browsed. Everything’s connected to warehouse logistics, keeping everyone on the same page and, more importantly, making for happier, more loyal customers.
High tech will no longer be part of just one aspect of the retailer’s structure. Rather, companies will integrate technology mechanisms and mindsets into the entire operation as well, creating unification from the corner office to the factory floor.
Although technology changes and morphs, convenience never goes out of style. Push-button shopping is making it easier to pay, which gives more time back to the customer. We’ve already seen the rise of push-button type experiences like Amazon Dash, Instacart and UberEats, and this level of convenience will only increase in 2017. Quicker shopping, quicker payments, quicker shopper happiness.
It’s already common for you to buy office products during a meeting or a gift while waiting for coffee. The mobile experience will get even better, as retailers smooth more bumps in road and add more layers of sophistication into the mobile shopping journey.
Big data from small retailers
Behemoth retailers already understand and employ the power of data. Smaller companies haven’t had this luxury but because of new, more affordable and user-friendly CRM and POS systems, they’ll be able to do so. Equipped with more relevant data, smaller retailers will be able to better understand their customers, allowing them to improve their offerings and provide even more precise personalization.
Competition creates a niche
With competition only increasing, we’ll see another retail adaptation: more niche retailers. Accordingly, the retail landscape will be dotted with smaller store footprints and the personalized service that comes with it. Consumers will love this. Not only have they been looking for more assortment beyond increasingly homogenous offerings, they’ve been craving a back-to-basics shopping experience with a human touch. And that’s about the best technology we’ll ever have.