The unprecedented pandemic in the first few months of 2020 has turned the world upside down. As mentioned from Nielsen’s report, customers have been forming a “renewed cautiousness about health”. In response to the situation, retailers are directing themselves to digital transformation to tailor for their customers’ needs. Below describes five technology trends that are anticipated to reshape the future of the retail industry.
- Staff-free and Cashier-less stores
Shekel Brainweigh Ltd.’s survey revealed that 87% of customers would like to choose contactless and self-checkout to avoid the close proximity with others when it comes to shopping.
- Scan and Go
This technology enables shoppers to use their mobile phone to scan the items and then pay on their device with just a click of a button. Now customers can buy anything from any location within the store and eliminate the queuing time at the checkout lane. According to Emarketer, 48% of US internet users believe scan-and-go technology would make shopping easier and 43% would rather try Scan and Go than wait. Scan and Go are cloud-based so it is easily and cost-effectively maintained with troubleshooting remotely. The technology gives retailers access to valuable data of customers’ preferences helping them optimise their stores to provide a more personalised exchange and a better customer experience. It is also used to highlight promotions and integrate a loyalty scheme to offer their clients a digital loyalty card. In regard to shoppers, they can access a full source of products’ information, reviews, ratings, guidelines, etc. and receive notifications of newest offerings.
- Click and Collect
ShopperKit online grocery shopping survey disclosed a substantial rise in the number of grocery click and collect from 13% of six months earlier to 31% in March. Basically, shoppers can order and pay products online (on website or via mobile app) then pick them up by the entrance of the stores or other supporting locations. This technology even constrains human contact to the maximum when shopping as customers do not have to shop in stores and queue at the checklane. For retailers whose brick-and-mortar outlets have to close due to the pandemic, Click and Collect allows them to maintain business continuity and earn revenue. As Click and Collect blurs the boundary between online and offline and is a win-win for both customers and retailers, the tendency of using this solution is anticipated to grow rapidly after the crisis ends.
- Just Walk Out
Powered by computer vision, sensor fusion, deep learning and IoT-based system, this is a technology developed by Amazon, which allows customers to effortlessly shop. People do not have to download any app or set up an Amazon account. They only need a credit card, walk in store to pick things then walk out. The technology will keep track of their virtual card and money will be charged the moment they are out of the store. Currently it performs check-out free experiences, however in the future, it is expected to develop a touch-free shopping system. Until then, customers will receive information about their desired products by just scanning barcodes and QR codes.
2. Ecommerce POS system Integration
Online to Offline (O2O) shopping experience for customers is becoming crucial for all retailers. The integration of physical and digital stores, so called eCommerce POS system integration facilitates retail owners to leverage their business. This technology helps retailers sell in more places at the same time, while updating real time inventory management without manual data entry. The integration also offers cross-channel promotions and discounts, hence, it is more convenient for customers and business owners in online and offline shopping.
3. Augmented reality
The majority of customers tend to visit a store before making any buying decision because they need to “see, touch and feel products first”. However, not everyone has a chance to visit a brick-and-mortar outlet, especially after Covid 19. Thankfully, augmented reality (AR) can come to rescue. It allows shoppers to vividly visualise the concept or object. AR is accessed using common devices like mobile phones, combining the physical world with computer-generated virtual elements. These elements are then projected over physical surfaces in reality within people’s field of vision. Let’s take IKEA as an example, shoppers can use the mobile app to search for any piece of furniture then place in their own home without the need to purchase it first. AR allows customers to visualise how the products match with their interior space. It would be no surprise when 63% of retailers have already considered about or implemented AR. Statista anticipated a whooping $1.6 billion market size of AR software for the retail industry in 2025.
4. Visual and Voice search
Visual and voice search are predicted to boost digital commerce revenues by as much as 30% by 2021. Visual search – powered by AI is all about taking advantages of real-world images (such as screenshots, pictures, and photos). Shoppers now only drop a photo on the search bar to look for what they are finding. Similarly, voice search – instead of using images, shoppers search items by saying out loud what’s on their minds. As disclosed on Insider trends, these two tools “a much more personal and intimate exchange,” between the brand and the consumer, and that this offers “a lot of scope for retailers to really personalize the interactions.”
Furthermore, voice search is developing into voice commerce. This is the combination between retail and e-commerce supported by voice-assisted technologies. Walmart, for instance, allows customers to place orders by using voice commands. With the support of Google Assistant or Siri, now you only need to say: “Hey Siri/Google, add to Walmart” and add products to cart by naming them. As our smart speakers and virtual assistants are advancing day-by-day, they have the potential to reshape the traditional buying behaviours.
5. Natural Language Processing (NLP) chatbots
More and more retail companies are applying Chatbots to bridge the gap between online and offline experiences. As it is driven by NLP, it can perform personalised and dual-way conversations. With the presence of chatbots, customer service is vastly enhanced thanks to its 24/7 availability and highly interaction. Moreover, new promotions and discounts can be communicated directly to customers when in the conversation, leading to a higher engagement.
With the unstoppable advancement of technology day-by-day, it has been effectively deployed in many industries. Retails is obviously not an exception. At Beesight Soft, we always work best to assist our clients. If you are one of the retailers out there who is considering applying technology to leverage your business, we’re surely happy to talk to you.
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