Retail technology has transformed in recent years, and the pace of change shows no signs of slowing down. More and more shoppers are researching products online before they hit the stores, and brands are focusing on their online presence to keep up with the demand. In fact, online shopping is so much a part of retail now that earlier this year it overtook in-store sales for the first time ever in 2017, according to eMarketer, an independent digital marketing research firm. To help you stay on top of trends in retail technology, here are six changes that every retailer needs to know about. The Six Biggest Retail Technology Trends You Need to Know About
Digitally Aware Customers
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Consumers have come to expect technology as part of their shopping experience. A retailer’s customers should be able to easily find what they’re looking for online and make purchases without difficulty. Customers are also more likely than ever before to research a product or brand online before making a purchase. As a result, retailers need mobile-friendly websites that can quickly process and fulfill orders through a secure payment system. If your retail store doesn’t offer one-click checkout, you may be missing out on potential customers! Mobile commerce has grown steadily in recent years, and studies predict this trend will continue. A customer is up to 30% more likely to purchase from a site with an app than one without, so it’s important for businesses of all sizes to take advantage of this opportunity by creating an app for both iOS and Android devices.
Another emerging trend is point-of-sale systems that integrate with online ordering; this means that in the future, when shoppers place an order at the store using a tablet device, it will automatically transmit the sale data back to the POS.
Increasingly Complex Supply Chains
Over time, retailers have been able to offer a larger selection of products at lower prices—but only by increasing complexity. The challenge is that as products become more specialized and customization grows, so does your supply chain’s complexity. In fact, complex supply chains are now one of retailers’ biggest operational pain points. If you want increased customer satisfaction and higher profits, start working on your supply chain now. It will be worth it in the long run!
Personalization of Experiences
Every time we walk into a retail store, visit an e-commerce site or pick up our phone, there’s a near-100% chance that we are being tracked, analyzed and categorized by stores and companies. This practice is becoming more sophisticated as retailers look for ways to deliver customized experiences directly to your device. That means no more walking into a store and finding something on sale that may have been ideal for you. No more visiting websites and seeing products you didn’t realize were available (and thus would never click through) until after you made your purchase elsewhere.
Changing Consumer Expectations
It’s not enough for consumers to be able to shop wherever and whenever they want. They also expect a frictionless experience, where ordering and payment should be effortless as well. Already, customers have come to expect same-day shipping (or at least one-day), along with free returns and exchanges. If a customer orders an item online only to find it’s out of stock in their size, brands must work quickly—and proactively—to ensure that fulfillment is achieved before too much trust is lost. Brands need both an omnichannel presence and an omnichannel approach.
Reshaping Brick-and-Mortar Stores
In 2016, e-commerce sales accounted for 8.5% of total retail sales in North America. By 2021, that number is expected to grow by more than 60%, leaving many companies scrambling to redefine their brick-and-mortar stores in response. Because brick-and-mortar stores were once very popular—indeed, they still are—companies tend to put a lot of stock into them as a key marketing tool. They’re places where customers can browse and make purchases in person rather than online; they offer a lot of room for customer service interactions. Brick-and-mortar locations also allow store managers flexibility when it comes to fitting their inventory with local demands or events such as back-to-school shopping periods and holidays.
Shifting Retail Ecosystems
With retail giants in decline and online sales on a steep incline, consumer buying habits are undergoing significant changes. This is being driven by both major technology trends and rapidly changing consumer expectations. As retailers shift focus to e-commerce, they’re looking for ways to differentiate themselves—and that means investing heavily in new technologies and innovative business models. Read on for six of these hot trends you need to know about. * 1) Artificial Intelligence (AI): AI is helping predict customer preferences and behavior, enabling personalized experiences across channels. * 2) Personalization: Retailers are moving beyond data analysis to offering personalized shopping experiences based on consumers’ individual preferences and past purchase history. For example, Amazon recently introduced the Dash Wand – a small handheld device that allows users to scan an item in the store or take a picture of it with their phone – then find out how much it costs at nearby stores and order it through Amazon Prime Now (or other shipping service). It will even read ingredients aloud if the user has food allergies.