The retail game is changing, and fast. Customer loyalty is constantly up for grabs and the retailers that provide shoppers with the best price, customer service and the most unique shopping experience (powered by technology) will be ones left standing.
According to Surender Khalsa, associate analyst with Planet Retail, “In today’s increasingly digitised retail environment, emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), voice recognition (VR), and the Internet of Things (IoT) are paving the way for context-aware, unified and anywhere commerce, where convenience and personalisation reign supreme.”
We know many shoppers are willing and ready to try new tech when shopping - but are your stores ready for the future of retail? Planet Retail has recently rounded up what they believe are the top retail technologies and trends worth watching in 2017. Let’s take a closer look at these trends:
For the two billion people around the globe who use smartphones, it is often considered an
additional appendage and is noticeably missed when not in our pockets, purses or hand. Mobile has certainly established itself as a major shopping channel for consumers, especially with the digitization of payments, loyalty and marketing, and is now an integral part of the customer journey.
In the ‘80s hit song Material Girl, Madonna sings that “we are living in a material world”. Truthfully, this pop song should be the soundtrack for one of the newest shopping concepts known as “contextual commerce.” The idea is that people can buy anything, anytime, anywhere, all with the click of a button. According to Planet Retail, contextual commerce is posed to change the nature of eCommerce by embedding new buying opportunities into our everyday lives.
According to the analyst team at Planet Retail, “Artificial intelligence (AI) - a blend of Big Data, natural language processing (NLP) and machine learning – has the potential to transform customer engagement and empower retailers with greater intelligence across the value chain.” Retailers such as 1-800-Flowers, The North Face and Frank + Oak are using AI to better understand, connect with and create superior experiences for consumers.
Combing elements of contextual commerce and AI, voice recognition is poised to be a huge disrupter in retail, and beyond. Consider the popularity of Amazon’s Alexa – the voice-controlled virtual assistant – and how consumers are utilizing the device for everyday use. Retailers are starting to test the waters in voice recognition, as they seek to drive richer AI-based conversational engagement based on data collected from multiple sources and interactions.
The Internet of Things (IoT)
IoT is certainly not a new concept, but it has made waves recently in retail as a key technology. According to Planet Retail, IoT can enable autonomous provisioning, management and monitoring for retail organizations. In addition to the consumer-facing element of IoT, this concept can also be utilized to support a retailers’ stores and operations.
2017 is poised to be another innovative year in retail to keep up with consumer demands. We’ll be keeping an eye on these technologies, and others that will make big impacts in the retail landscape.