The science of today is the technology of tomorrow. With innovations popping up in all parts of the world, retail technology too saw its breaking dawn this decade. As Doug Gardner once said,
“Customer equate the street cred of a fashion brand, to the tech it uses.”
The tech you use in your retail is now directly related to your quality of the product by the consumers nowadays. Retail being a cutthroat industry, its success depends on how well your company performs against your competition. So to stand top in the market, managers are using latest cutting-edge tech to get better results.
It’s in every retail’s best interest to be familiar with retail technology. Whether you work on the sales floor or behind the scenes, mastering the retail technology will help you stay marketable.
Recent trends in retail technology:
New technologies tend to reshape retail in the most exciting and unexpected of ways. For instance, a couple of years ago “conversational commerce” was nearly unknown to many in the retail society. But since last year, the retail sector took leaps into this era with a lot of new solutions using artificial intelligence and chatbots to interact with their consumers.
Jake Weatherly, CEO of verification technology company SheerID, told Retail Dive in an email stating, “Today’s market demands convenience. And in the upcoming days, we will see the continuation of multi-channel retailing; however, businesses will spend more on both their customer experience teams and on retail technology that will allow them to understand their customers in a deeper level.”
Retail firms are already making significant investments in developing their tech. For instance, Wal-Mart spent almost $10.5 billion on IT in 2015, topping the list of the world’s biggest tech investors at that time. Even then, retail firms are dying to meet the expectations of an increasing number of digital customers.
Now, what are the innovations happening now? What are the bigger players in the retail market plan to do as their next step in bringing innovation to serve their customers? Let’s dive in find out those promising retail technology that is used by the bigger retailers to achieve their goal.
Drones in Retail:
Though it may sound futuristic, drones are sure to swoop in one day to alter the landscape of retail. At least that’s what the VP of media at Measure, a “Drone as a Service” company, observed. This company strives to provide aerial solutions for all of its enterprise consumers, and by aerial imagery, clients can bolster their business operations. Even Amazon made its first drone delivery on December 7, 2016, when it delivered a package in Cambridgeshire, England, in only 13 minutes 22 seconds. Even though widespread drone delivery in urban areas is a little trickier, Amazon strives to find solutions for it. Given that the case, earlier in 2016 Amazon was even trying to file a patent for the drones.
Some might argue that Amazon is an E-Commerce, but the applications of drone delivery can be extended to retail firms too. For one, companies continue to advance their drone delivery projects. Some are even ready to get out of the lab and expand into bigger pilot programs. Firms such as Flirtey and 7-Eleven have already taken a step, making several dozen drone deliveries in the Reno, NV area in November.
A beacon to your consumers:
Beacons have been the buzzword since 2013 when Apple first introduced their iBeacon technology. And while it may have been some time for this new retail technology, but then started proliferating. At the start of 2015, a Business Intelligence report was released stating that beacons would be driving $44 billion in retail sales by 2016, up from $4 billion.
Some of you might even be wondering what this beacon is. Let’s dive in to find more details about it.
Apple speaks about the iBeacon technology to consumers as the enabling technology for Apple devices to alert applications and websites when someone approaches or leaves a location. And yeah! Retailers who have beacons in place can detect where your customer is at any given moment in your retail. And the critical part is that the retailer can also push timely messages to that customer promoting products or providing an announcement about the store. Say someone is walking past a retail store. If they’ve downloaded your app, you can use beacon messages to capture their attention. Once inside, beacons are used to make,
- personalized offers,
- speed checkout processes and
- Pretty much anything else you can dream up.
Beacons can be used to engage your customers to a great extent.
Automization by Robots:
Since 1984’s Terminator, we all have been scared of the fact “Machines are becoming smarter.” Despite that, we never fail to leverage the smartness of the robots.
Robotics in retail technology has become a very commonplace especially in the supply chain. Retailers around the world are making this migration. Though it has been led for some time by Amazon, now even retailers started adopting it.
There will be even more of this happening in the upcoming future. In some cases, it is easy to misunderstand that Robots can only be used in retail as helpers for consumers around the store. But not every robot there is in the retail sector travel around the store. Consumer electronics retailer Best Buy collaborated with PaR Systems to introduce Chloe. It is an automated system that retrieves any kind of product from shelves and storage units. The Chloe test began in 2015 at the Best Buy store in the Chelsea.
Just think about it as one of those claw machine games at the arcade. But here it is for electronics products. And these are machines with a much larger arm.
During an interview with the with one of the creators of Chloe, he says,
“She provides the retail experience customers are demanding and operational value propositions that retailers need today and in the future.”
V and A Realities:
Customization and Personalization are the two impactful goals in the retail industry. Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality can help in achieving them.
AR aids customers and simplifies their shopping experience. This technology enables the display of information when products or stores are viewed through a smartphone’s camera. It also helps customers find their way to reach desired product in a store, using the store layout after recognition. In short, AR helps customers make to find the desired products. Thus enabling access to more detailed product information.
Suggested Reads: 6 great ways to implement Augmented Reality in retail stores
Whereas VR helps consumers to visualize an idea of how a product will look and feel once it is developed or launched. By this, customers can tell how clothing would look when worn, or how a painting might look on a wall before it is created. This reduces the return percentage of retail products and increases customer satisfaction. Thus improving customer experience. But these are not only the applications of AR and VR in retail.
In fact, even the cookie brand Oreo has launched a new app-driven promotion which used AR to create a virtual scavenger hunt for consumers. They made users compete for prizes including a trip to Google’s headquarters in California.
Bitcoin & Blockchains:
Many of us as individuals would’ve felt really bad for not investing in Bitcoin at the right moment. But if you’re a retailer and not sure what your organization is doing with bitcoins, don’t panic. Though bitcoin is the buzz word now, the tech behind is responsible for all the wonders. Yes, blockchain may have more imminent application in the retail supply chain than bitcoin.
The blockchain is essentially a shared ledgering technology that allows companies to accurately manage and track complex digital transactions. And it was Wal-Mart who first planned an international implementation of the blockchain.
And as the days go on, more retailers, are ready to use blockchain for similar applications.
“In the emerging blockchain world, trust derives from the network and even objects on the network,”
wrote Don Tapscott, author, and CEO of The Tapscott Group, in his book “Blockchain Revolution: How the Technology Behind Bitcoin Is Changing Money, Business, and the World.”
However, the future of digital currency bitcoin is a bit harder to predict. The blockchain is said to be the underlying ledger technology for Bitcoin, though most retailers have even allowed their customers to perform transactions using bitcoin. But the bitcoin value continues to be extremely volatile, and retailers still don’t seem that interested in accepting it from consumers. But if blockchain technology rise up more often in retail trend, then maybe bitcoin won’t be far behind.
Last but not the least, this is one of the most important of all the retail technology discussed in this post. Now, some of you might even wonder what is this or what the name denotes. There’s been a lot of discussion about the very meaning of this term. You can’t drive down the road, walk into a restaurant, head to an airport, even go a school anymore without noticing digital signage. Because it’s all around you, the name is pretty catchy for all kinds of different retail technology. So, let’s hear what Wikipedia has to say about Digital Signage:
Digital signage – a sub-segment of electronic signage. Digital displays use technologies such as LCD, LED and Projection to display content such as digital images, video, streaming media, web pages, weather data, restaurant menu, or text. They can be found in public spaces, retail stores, hotels, restaurants, and corporate buildings etc., to provide wayfinding, exhibitions, marketing and outdoor advertising.
Image Source – Sinewave Security Solutions LLC
But digital signage has more to it than it looks. It is a fragmented industry, with hundreds of vendors competing to sell you their solution. And sometimes they might all be even looking the same. That’s because, at a high level, the components of any digital signage solution are identical. It’s only when you understand the inner details, then only you can truly start to tell the difference from one vendor to another.
There are four main software components to digital signage solution:
- Software that resides on a media player,
- Content management/distribution software,
- Device management software, and
- Content creation software.
By analyzing each and individual component, you can configure a unique solution for your retail.
Seems interesting right but at the same time, these terms might be confusing to you if you’re a small-time retailer. But fret not. This is where CASA can be of help to you. We offer your retail with great digital signage services and also help you with managing marketing campaigns. With the analytics provided by CASA, you can get to know a great deal about your customers and their buying behavior. Sign up for free to find out how CASA can help your retail.
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