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How Did Technology Transform the Retail Industry?

Shifting from in-store only to online retailing has compelled business owners and companies to make significant adjustments to the way they run their business. Companies who have failed to adapt and transform their business are often left behind.  

The latest technology has revolutionised and transformed the retail industry. Nowadays, especially during the global pandemic this year, almost everyone is an online customer if they weren’t already before. The end-to-end customer experience begins with an online search, comparing products, reading product reviews, and finally ordering and delivering them right to the customer’s doorstep. 

Businesses are now competing not just for the best price, but on availability, search engine rankings, and the most valuable five-star customer reviews. 

Online customers have an overwhelming amount of choices compared to physical stores and establishments. In turn, customers on the web are more demanding and unforgiving than ever before. Pressure is placed on retailers and sellers to come up with a flawless digital experience for their customers, plus giving them free returns and on occasion, shouldering delivery charges.  

Advantages of Technology in Retail

Strengthen Productivity and Cost-Effectiveness

Technology can aid in processing gaps that are impeding the business’ performance. It helps provide data to help implement and execute the best system by taking out unimportant and unwanted obstructions. It can also generate and initiate data to understand and monitor the product’s performance in real-time, by categorising multiple brands and their sales capabilities. This system can help distinguish assets that are performing well, and others that aren’t.  

Enhanced Engagement

Digital display solutions for retail stores receive 400% more views than still and motionless displays. Most customers even stated that they entered the store because the signage piqued their interest. More hits mean more chances to get more sales, and more attention means more customers inside the stores. 

Improved Customer Experience

Retail signage displays can affect customers’ overall experiences. Customers that interact with in-store signages can have higher satisfaction, as digital signages can decrease perceived wait time by 35%. These types of improvements to shoppers’ experiences can assist in keeping customers happier. 

Top Five Types of Technologies in Retail

Digital Marketing

Consumers are glued to their smartphones and laptops day in and day out. Digital marketing in companies is more vital and essential than ever before to connect and interact with shoppers. Retailers use newsletters through emails, virtual storytelling, digital coupons, and increasing ads online. Establishments are taking a digital marketing approach to the next level. Nowadays, a significant portion of the company’s budget is allocated to digital marketing. 

Analytics

Studying and observing analytics is an integral part of understanding shoppers. Data and information like census and customer traffic allow companies to make informed and smart decisions based on their customer’s details, and personalise their shopping experience. 

An advantageous aspect of analytics that benefits online businesses is that it provides personalised product recommendations and promos. Using analytics, the shop understands the consumer’s purchasing behavior more through their purchase history, and items they often search for. With this information, retailers could then recommend customised products which could potentially increase their sales. This strategy is a win-win, as it also improves the consumer’s experience and could make them visit the store more regularly and make more purchases.  

Omnichannel Retail

Omnichannel retail refers to establishments with both physical stores and digital store presence. Omnichannel retail is a multichannel and cross-media approach to shopping and purchasing, and its goal is to make the customer’s experience seamless and comprehensive across online channels and in-store. This service allows patrons to order products and goods via text or a messaging application to accommodate all customers. 

Many retailers are striving to create and give customers a memorable in-store experience. Still, successful businesses combine digital and physical stores to provide consumers a uniform and consistent experience in today’s world. One way to do that is by putting out digital retail signage displays – these displays are placed in-stores to display ads and videos. 

Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Artificial intelligence works to customise and modify the buyer’s experience and to make shopping easier and simpler. Businesses use AI to improve their stores by developing cashier-less and fully-automated stores to help eliminate and ease check-out lines and cashiers.  

AI in retail has enabled businesses with top-level data and information set up to improve retail operations and new business possibilities. 

Interactive chats are one of the most notable features of an AI. Having interactive chat programs on the company website or application is a great way to maximise and utilise AI technologies at the same time, improving customer service and participation in the retail industry. The bots that use machine learning to have conversations with customers answer common questions, and guide them to useful answers and results. These bots then collect valuable customer data for future business decisions.

Some stores take digital displays solutions in retail stores to a different level by adding AI technology. These signages impress customers with a one of a kind interaction and service. These could play a massive role in driving sales into the business if they take advantage of this technology. 

  1. Cloud Services

Tracking inventory, stock availability, shipping, and purchases are all stored and moving to the cloud. With cloud computing, businesses cut the cost of software development and process data and information faster. 

Retail stores benefit from these tools to better communicate with co-workers and staff members from different departments or at another branch. Uniform and consistent information across all stores results in better business management and lessens the risk of mismanagement or misunderstanding.  

Top Technology Trends in Retail

Augmented Shopping

Augmented reality typically places the world around the shopper. They can put products right on their bodies or into their homes. AR technology allows users to “try on” the store’s products and see if they will look good in a room, without leaving the comfort of their own home.

Staff-Free Stores

Clients can download a mobile application that allows them to enter the establishment, and scan and purchase their products. 

These systems are powered by computer vision, deep learning, and sensors – allowing customers to come to the store using a credit card. Some programs don’t require any account or app installed. Customers can put their items into a physical shopping cart, while a sensor tracks them in a virtual cart. When the customer is finished shopping, all items in the cart are paid automatically.

Micro-Moments

Retailers who catch buyers “at the moment” gain a significant advantage. Having direct digital access to customers and analytical capabilities, stores can seize opportunities to help the customer and anticipate what they need – even before they know it. 

Point of Sales (POS)

Implementing a POS system, the business can develop complete and accurate sales reports. These reports include; how many products are sold, top-selling products, profit margins, and more. The store can reduce and avoid human errors when entering sales data through this system, so the result is entirely accurate.

Personalisation matters. Catering to the customer’s personal needs is a retailer number one priority. To accommodate shoppers’ needs and expectations, establishments need to keep up with technology and have a physical and digital store simultaneously. Technology is something most business owners embrace as it helps them interact with and know their customers better. These tools are an essential part of any retail business if they want to survive in this competitive market. 

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