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Technology Trends in Retail: 8 Ideas for Modern Stores

Posted by Julia Morrissey on Mar 10, 2022

Last updated on April 14th, 2022 at 11:37 am

We live in a world where technology advances so rapidly that sometimes it’s hard to wrap your head around it. Smart devices, artificial intelligence, robotics, and augmented reality seem to impact our lives more and more each day. When it comes to technology in retail stores, advancements are just as fast and dynamic.

As customer expectations continue to increase, and the customer journey becomes more complex, the need for technology in retail continues to grow. With the right technology, you’ll be able to deliver the experience consumers expect. One that is fast and convenient but also meaningful and experiential. Retail technology will help you minimize friction, maximize efficiency, and drive customer loyalty.

This article dives technology trends in retail that will help you reduce operational pains, become more efficient, and deliver an exceptional customer experience.

8 Technology Trends in Retail

Retail technology is most effective when it enables a positive, streamlined shopping experience for every person who works and shops in your store. 

Below, we discuss technology trends in retail that will allow you to create a streamlined omnichannel experience. One where customers can shop both online and in-store and build strong relationships with your brand regardless of channel. 

1. Mobile Point-of-Sale 

Concerns have been floated about technology diminishing the value of or even replacing store associates. However, the fact of the matter is that retail technology, such as a mobile point-of-sale (mPOS) solution, empowers store associates to build better relationships with customers, while also reducing pain points in their day-to-day job. 

With a mPOS store associates can do the following:

2. Omnichannel Order Management

With an omnichannel order management system (OMS) you can track both online and in-store orders in one place. 

A flexible OMS is also equipped to handle the variety of ways consumers expect to be able to receive products today. The pandemic significantly increased consumers’ interest in curbside pickup as it was a safe, convenient way to receive items.

Since managing inventory is simplified, you can also easily offer BOPIS (buy online pickup in-store) and BORIS (buy online return in-store). This allows consumers a faster way to receive or return items and acts as a mechanism to draw them into the store, potentially leading to additional purchases or exchanges.

3. Store Inventory Management

In addition to the inventory visibility you get with a flexible OMS, a complete store inventory management solution can deliver even more value.

Stock accuracy is greatly improved with inventory management software and automation. Store associates can easily receive and transfer items with guided workflows. Products can be scanned with a built-in iPhone camera eliminating the need for outdated barcode scanners.

You’ll also get real-time data for inventory across locations, channels, and by SKU, which will help prevent overselling or underselling. You can also turn stores into fulfillment centers. Fulfill online orders in-store from nearby customers, reducing shipping time and costs.

4. Consumer Shopping Apps

Technology has always served as a way to connect, and consumer apps allow shoppers and brands to bring their relationship to a whole new level. With branded apps, they can easily stay connected to their favorite brands anywhere and anytime they want. And we know more and more shoppers are falling in love with apps. In fact, time spent in shopping apps rose 18% year-over-year in 2021.

A consumer app delivers an amazing shopping experience both in-store and on mobile, far better than a mobile site. You can expect to see 5-7x more conversions on an app than a mobile site due to their superior nature. 

A consumer shopping app enables you to:

5. Store Traffic Analytics

With the use of cameras and retail analytics software, you can accurately track your store’s foot traffic and get a comprehensive understanding of how many people are visiting, what times and days, and where in your store they are going. 

Learning what days and times your store is busiest, will allow you to suggest when is a good time for store associates to take breaks, and make any staffing adjustments so that enough support is always available to customers during those times. On the other hand, you can ensure you don’t have too many associates working when things tend to be quiet.

With store traffic data you can also measure the effectiveness of your marketing efforts and store layout. An upswing in traffic after a campaign launch is useful information. So is knowing how shoppers behave in your store. If patrons rarely venture down a particular aisle, there is likely a reason.

With more data, you can make more informed decisions and provide a great customer experience.

6. Augmented Reality

Retail use of augmented reality (AR) is also ramping up fast, especially for products such as furniture, clothing, and accessories. When shopping for items online, it’s difficult to know how, for instance, a couch will look in your living room or how a pair of glasses will look on your face. 

AR can help customers make better purchase decisions and reduce the volume of returns due to poor fit. And consumers are ready for it.

According to a 2022 Camera IQ report, seventy-six percent of consumers have used AR already, and half of those who haven’t hope to soon. Additionally, 59% of consumers say they are more likely to purchase a product they’ve experienced with AR.

7. Artificial Intelligence

Artificial intelligence (AI) allows retail businesses to gain deeper insights than ever before by using a number of technologies, including machine learning and predictive analysis, to collect, process, and analyze large data sets. From helping brands to make better product suggestions, understand the customer journey, customize promotions, and reduce waste, AI has use cases across all facets of the businesses.

With AI, you can greatly improve the customer experience. By recognizing a customer’s behavior and intent, you can customize their online shopping experience with adaptive homepages and relevant related or recommended product displays. In-store technology that assists with interpreting facial, biometric, and audio cues, can aid retailers in understanding shopper’s emotions and adjust their clienteling or merchandising strategy as necessary.

You can also reduce operational costs and pain points by using AI to create efficient supply and fulfillment chains. AI can assist with demand forecasting and help you quickly respond to changing customer behavior and proactively adjust inventory levels. As interest in sustainable practices grows, AI-driven demand forecasting can play a pivotal role in reducing waste.

8. Unique In-Store Experiences 

It’s vital to deliver an innovative and engaging in-store experience. Technology can play a critical role in creating an unforgettable experience.

For example, Uniqlo created UMood, a wearable technology that suggests clothes to the customer on the basis of their mood. Rebecca Minkoff merged the online and physical shopping experience with the implementation of interactive dressing room mirrors that allow customers to browse and request items, order drinks, and change the room’s lighting. 

These unique experiences attract and engage new and loyal customers alike. They can also be phenomenal marketing assets and achieve strong organic traction on social media through social shares and mentions by influencers.

Shopper Experience First, Technology Second

Humans are creatures of habit, and it’s natural for us to take some time to warm up to new technologies. Remember the first time you walked into a grocery store and saw a self-checkout kiosk? Today, 70 percent of people think self-checkout kiosks improve their shopping experience, but it took years for them to catch on. 

In a June 2021 poll of 1,993 U.S. consumers, Retail Brew found that only 30% of people actually want more technology in retail stores, compared to 57%  who want less or for things to stay the same.

You should keep this information in mind when rolling out new retail technology. Experience matters a lot to shoppers. Just as much as the quality of your product or service. Technology has the opportunity to greatly improve the retail experience, but brands must also continue to deliver a human touch. Store associates empowered with technology can ensure your brand remains authentic.

NewStore has helped brands like Burton adopt technologies like mPOS, OMS, and inventory management to deliver a modern store experience. Request a demo to harness the technology needed to propel your brand into the future.

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