How Retailers Are Using Technology this Holiday Season

Retail marketers are standing out through their use of technology this holiday season. Here’s a closer look at some inspiration.

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Marketing technology is key throughout the year. But marketers are increasingly finding smart ways to incorporate it into their holiday sales.

This year, customers who are going into stores and shopping online are running into more examples of digital technology than ever before. From devices designed to collect customer data to those making it easier to find the right products, today’s marketing technology stack is doing double duty during the holidays. Here’s a closer look at some of the trends and where the space is likely to head in the near future.

Augmented reality (AR): A variety of brands are using AR apps to help customers try on their products. Brands like Ulta have launched virtual reality (VR) apps that allow users to upload images or use models to experiment with different makeup looks. Large brands such as Macy’s and Lowe’s have created AR apps that help users envision furniture in rooms or completed construction projects.

Mobile geofencing: When shoppers visit stores, they’re increasingly receiving customized offers. Retailers are leveraging tools that create a virtual perimeter around their store. When users enter that defined area and have opted to receive offers, they can be targeted with product information, promotions, and discounts. These offers can help turn browsers into customers who immediately buy.

In-store beacons: The holidays can be a powerful time of year for retailers to plan major market research initiatives to take advantage of heavy foot traffic. Retailers are increasingly using in-store beacons and other tracking devices to measure foot traffic, pay attention to customer behavior, and even solicit direct feedback from customers.

VR training for associates: Last year, Walmart announced that it would use a VR solution to train associates for Black Friday. This year, it announced it will be using these solutions in a wider variety of training capacities. As retailers scale up holiday staff, the ability to provide immersive digital training can shorten training cycles and increase the support seasonal staff members receive.

Mobile checkout devices: One of the downsides of shopping in-store during the holidays is the lengthy wait to check out or get assistance with a purchase. Many retailers are helping address this issue by having their associates use company-issued mobile devices on the sales floor. They can use these tablets or smartphones to search for products and services, run price comparisons, and even check customers out and print receipts. Being able to move customers out the door will help retailers turn in-store back into an in-demand mode of shopping.

The holiday shopping season is being made a little better for retailers, customers, and marketing teams thanks to new technologies. This year’s innovations are laying the foundation for increasingly tech-savvy holiday marketing in 2019 and beyond.