1. Augmented Reality
When customers buy products online, they can’t see the item in their environment. From seeing what a dress looks like on themselves, to looking at a sofa in their own home, eCommerce misses out on this crucial step. Augmented reality can be used to replace that.
It is not just virtual changing rooms that are being used either. AR is being implemented for in-store navigation, giving directions to customers so they can find items easily. Employees can use it to see how displays and merchandising look before they begin to move things around.
2. Contactless Payment
It may not be a new technology but it is quickly becoming essential. Cash is diminishing in its use, with more buyers expecting contactless payment. Retailers must supply something that is more in tune with their customer’s expectations.
Contactless payment could be done through cards or a mobile device. Part of the dilemma is knowing what contactless payments to allow. Installing different providers generally costs the retailer, so a balance needs to be made between flexibility and cost.
3. Social Commerce
If people believe that the website was the death of physical retail, then social commerce could spell the demise of the website. This is the process of making retail sales directly through a social media platform. Instead of clicking adverts that direct you to a retailer’s website, all purchases are made through the platform’s interface.
The framework to do this has already been put in place. Changeable storefronts are now available on Facebook and Instagram, allowing a high degree of customization to cater to brands. TikTok and Shopify have also teamed up to provide native stores for brands.
4. AI Demand Forecasting
Since the start of the pandemic, supply chain management has been tough. Panic buying meant many items vanished from shelves. COVID shutdowns in China proceeded along with wars in Europe, which meant that some items have been unobtainable despite demand.
In this environment, forecasting using AI began to take off. It can be used to improve inventory management, logistics, and manufacturing. Following customer demand trends, it then allows production and order to be done based on customer needs.
5. Voice Commerce
Voice commerce is another innovative way to improve the customer experience. Smart assistants like Alexa and Google are improving to the point that they can handle ever-increasingly complex tasks. This is making it easier for customers to order products using their voice at home.
The trick is to make sure voice commerce is helpful and not intrusive. Walmart has a pioneering scheme whereby people can stack an online cart using their voice assistant, which is then picked up by workers from the store.
Chatbots relieve the strain on your customer service department. They can offer services that would cost a lot more if done by a workforce, such as 24-hour help and creating shorter waiting times.
The most common use of them is in a dialogue box that appears on websites. They use set templates to answer the most commonly asked questions. If the chatbot is unable to assist, it will then send the request to your standard customer service channels.
Answering questions is not the only use for them. Some companies have even used them to provide personalized product recommendations to visitors in a bid to increase retail sales.
7. Online to Offline Stores
Brick and mortar stores may seem to be in decline, but they are making a comeback. However, the nature of how they operate has changed. There have been numerous major online brands that have begun to open physical stores, either permanently or in pop-up capacities.
The aim of these is to allow customers to experience the products and brands in person. Their only downside is that retailers must manage to provide the same experience as they do online in a store environment to make them successful.
8. Buy Now Pay Later Options
Buy now pay later options are nothing new. However, they will continue as a trend into the next few years, particularly for younger buyers who can not afford larger-priced items in one go. However, the way they operate will change significantly, with smaller payment amounts and some offers being interest-free.
Livestream shopping is going through a revival. It takes the concept of a television shopping channel and places it on social channels. This gives a chance to show off a product or line in real-time.
This has already been prevalent in Asia for some time. Many retailers are also using it combined with influencers as presenters to increase the reach of their products.
10. Gathering Data
As more customers become concerned about their privacy, gathering data is going to be harder to do. Google has already made a move toward a cookieless culture online. As a retailer, you need to make it easier for people to give data or not get it at all.
One way to do this is through QR codes. Scanning them can take people directly to a signup page. If done on their mobile and where data is already stored, it only takes one click to complete.
Implementing Retail Technologies
None of these retail technologies will be implemented overnight. They may not fit every type of business either. However, you should be ready to invest and perform market research to see which of these your customers and business needs.
Red Iron is at the forefront, forging retail innovation. We aim to help improve the customer experience whatever the platform. Click here to book a call with our experts and let us help you get ahead in the digital economy.