A new generation of technologies and innovations is changing retail. Here’s what marketers should watch.
Retail is one of the fastest-evolving spaces in customer experience technology. Today’s consumers want cutting-edge experiences, and retailers rely on innovative back-end technologies to deliver winning customer experiences. Yet the speed of innovation can be so fast that it’s hard for marketers and retailers to keep up. If you’re looking forward to utilizing today’s changing technologies to offer a better retail experience, here are several trends marketers can track.
Better payment solutions: Retailers are focusing on how to remove the friction from the process of making purchases. Simplifying the payment process is one way retailers are leaning in. Mobile payments, for example, are making it easier to swipe a phone or other device and complete the checkout process even faster. Emerging innovations may have an even larger impact on the ways customers pay for the items they buy.
Virtual and augmented reality try-ons: Another technology trend that is reshaping the retail landscape is the ability to try on or explore products virtually. For example, many large home furnishings and construction brands are creating virtual workshops that let a customer see how a certain piece of furniture would look in his or her living room. Fashion brands and cosmetics companies are following suit. Some stores even offer virtual mirrors that will let you try on a piece of clothing and then see what it would look like in a different color. Investing in virtual technology lets companies further personalize and customize their customer experience while helping to eliminate some of the risk customers associate with spending money.
Robotic assistants: Retail has been one of the front lines of innovation and robotics. While many of these robotics developments have been behind the scenes, helping to streamline stocking shelves or alerting workers when a product is running low, brands are increasingly finding ways to bring robots onto the store floor. From offering product recommendations and answering basic questions to providing directions or even making suggestions, robots are leveraging artificial intelligence (AI) to increase the customer service options shoppers have access to.
Fewer in-store/online boundaries: With the advent of online shopping, the customer buying journey has become less linear. Initially, retailers had to invest in developing concurrent customer experiences for shopping online and offline. As mobile has become more prevalent, customers weave in and out of the digital and physical buying experiences. They may search for products online, go to the store to try them on, and then make a more cost-effective purchase from a third-party retailer. Retailers are using technology to offer more flexible in-store and online shopping options. For example, if a customer goes into a store to try on a specific item and needs it in another size or color, many brands will have a representative place an order for the product and have it delivered straight to the customer’s home.
The customer experience is evolving—and retail is one industry where technology has completely shifted the buying experience. Watching emerging trends can help marketers design a customer experience that’s flexible and modern and helps deliver what buyers really want.