The Internet has changed the way we shop. As consumer expectations change, businesses are working hard to drive retail innovation
The convenience of e-commerce is transforming the retail landscape. Instantaneous transactions, same-day delivery, and free returns mean that customers are expecting more and more from retailers. However, technological advancement is not only redefining e-commerce. Increasingly, bricks-and-mortar stores are introducing cutting-edge technology to enhance the shopping experience. Here, we explore five new trends in retail innovation that are transforming consumer experiences.
1. Increasing personalization
Today, personalization remains central to meeting consumer expectations. As a result, retailers are continuing to strive to deliver a more personal service. Although often facilitated by technology, exceptional customer experiences come from combining sophisticated new technologies with human interactions. Furthermore, omnichannel retail innovation is a key concept for the future of retail. In 2019, retailers need to ensure they align the standard of service in both their online and offline stores. This is essential to customer satisfaction and retention.
2. Leveraging digital assistants and artificial intelligence
More and more retailers are leveraging capabilities facilitated by Google Home, Alexa and Siri. In addition, businesses are increasingly implementing artificial intelligence technologies powered by big data, advanced analytics, and deep learning. This enables more humanized, personal interactions with highly efficient automated systems. Furthermore, as AI capabilities mature, consumer experiences are getting even more seamless, which drives conversion, return custom, and brand loyalty.
3. High-tech marketing strategy is crucial
Going forward, it is not only purchase experiences that need to be personalized. Social media marketing is more important to sales strategy than ever, especially as the medium holds so much potential for user-generated content. Furthermore, companies are capitalizing on the popularity of social media photography features to promote their brand. For example, Burberry launched an augmented reality tool that interacts with users’ smartphones to decorate shots with Burberry branding. Considering their appeal, the potential of augmented reality tools is enormous for retail innovation.
4. Contactless retail is going to the next level
An interesting trend in retail innovation is emerging in China, which is set to arrive in American and European stores soon. In Beijing and Shanghai, automated convenience stores are becoming increasingly common. Powered by Chinese messaging app WeChat, these stores are entirely unmanned. Customers scan QR codes to enter the store and use their WeChat wallets to make purchases, whilst sensors detect whether or not customers remove items from shelves. When a customer removes an item, it links to their individual ID codes to prevent theft.
5. The Internet of Things goes in-store
This year’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas saw the unveiling of some cutting-edge new technologies from brands like LG and Samsung. These included a number of new intelligent, connected domestic devices. However, it is more likely that the retail sector will capitalize on these new capabilities before consumers. So, whilst it will take a few years for SMART washing machines to become commonplace, the IoT presents huge opportunities for retailers. For instance, SMART devices can improve production and logistics efficiency.
In summary, the retail sector is undergoing a major revolution – which is having a significant impact on physical stores and e-commerce businesses alike. Essentially, heightened customer expectations and new technologies are transforming the retail experience. The shopping experience of the future will be seamless, personal, and exceptionally convenient. In order to remain relevant in an increasingly competitive market, retailers need to begin experimenting with new technological capabilities as soon as possible.