What is the future of retail? Let's find out!
Are you interested in improving your retail store and ensuring that customers get the greatest possible experience on the market? If so, then there’s only one answer and, as you might have guessed it’s technology. The latest retail tech trends involving tech will bring new life into your business and help you climb far beyond the competition.
You do need to think about the Internet of Things when you’re exploring ways to use technology to improve the shopping experience for your customers. One of the key aspects of this is certainly the end of the cashier. Customers are leaning further and further away from interacting with cashiers when they go shopping. Most would now much rather interact with a machine and scan their own items. This does leave your staff for other areas of your business. Automated checkouts will relieve 75% of cashier staff by 2025. This is going to hit the economy hard but for now, that’s not a problem you need to focus on. Instead, you need to make sure that you are taking advantage of this tech to once again, improve experiences.
It’s not just about the cashier that is going to be moving on either. Retail robots are coming into play too which will basically mean that a lot of the roles staff used to complete will be done with machines. This does include noting out of stock items and ones that have been misplaced.
The trend of also buying or scanning while you shop is coming into focus quite quickly. This technology is still flawed and it’s ironic that stores like Amazon are now heading back into the brick and mortar world, but it is something to pay attention to as it continues to improve and advance.
Merging of online and in-store
You also need to explore ways to merge the online and in-store experience. There are lots of great possibilities that are already available which do provide access points here. That includes the option of buying online and picking up on the store. This does make purchases more rapid and indeed efficient for customers. It also cuts out the delivery charges and the logistics issues on your side of the table. Furthermore, you do get the physical connection with the customer and that can be crucial. It brings foot traffic to the store and does open up the possibility for more purchases in the store. It then helps you create relationships with the customers on a local level as well as an online level.
Again, it is worth pointing out that the concept we’re talking about here isn’t new. It’s a great example of how an old idea can be reinvented in the modern industry and benefit your business.
AI spending has ballooned over the past two years with $219bn spent in 2018 alone. This should give you some idea of how important it is to the future of the global market and indeed the economy. It should also paint a picture of its role in modern business. Companies are leaning into this hard and that’s certainly true for the retail industry. So, how can you use AI to improve your experience for customers? Well, you can learn from the companies that have already jumped on board this bandwagon and climbed into the fray.
For instance, M&S have their Style Finder. Here it is possible to use a virtual assistant and ask questions. By doing this, the brand suggests that consumers will be able to find their perfect style and the exact clothing they want in minutes. This works by learning from past purchase behaviour and characteristics of the individual buyers in the store.
In other areas of the industry, ASOS became the first retailer in the UK to get started on Google Assistant. These examples and others like it are all about the smart shop. It’s about using AI to improve the experience for the shopper. AI has been working behind the scenes in retail for years. It’s now time for it to be used where it counts, on the shop floor. If this happens, then you are going to see a lot more demand as customers recognise that you are ahead of the curve.
Omnichannel marketing isn’t a type of technology that you should be incorporating into your business model. Instead, it is a way to use different technology together to complete a connected campaign strategy. It can be incredibly effective because it involves using different options to ensure that you connect with your target audience. The best way to explore omnichannel marketing and how it works is with an example. That way you can get a clear picture of why it’s useful.
So, let’s say that you are marketing a product that has just been released in your store. You might choose to do this with social media. It could be something like your summer wardrobe that is now on sale. However, rather than market the different items directly, you could instead use a campaign to show off vintage styles that they love on social media with a hashtag #vintage for summer. In doing this, you can then perhaps rent the use of a digital billboard. A digital billboard is useful because it is connected online. This means that it can be used to stream tweets and trends. This billboard might be close to your store which means that it is drawing attention to your brand. When they visit your store after spotting your hashtag, consumers could see vintage styles in your shop windows, matching the campaign. After stepping inside, there could be a platform or even app integration which allows them to virtual match different items to create the perfect summer outfit. While basically a fresh idea, it’s not too far aware from what a clothing store completed with their own promotional campaign less than a year ago.
Omnichannel marketing can even be used to solve an issue with your product. Let’s say that you’re selling a coat with a belt. Consumers might have then reported that while they love the coat, the problem is that they kept losing the belt. So, you can now build this concept into your campaign. You still sell the item but you set up promotions on your website or social media with content about how to dress up a coat like the one you’re selling. This is a great way to provide value to your customer and of course, you can include some ideas in your shop too. People often simplify an omnichannel marketing campaign into a campaign that is connected. But it’s so much more than this. It’s individual pieces that blend together and tech, as you can see, is crucial to this process. It is quite expensive to set up because of all the different moving pieces. However, secured business loans are an option that will help you cover the excess that might not fit into your original business budget.
Do you know the importance of mobile marketing and purchasing? Shopping through mobile devices is expected to see a huge growth rate through 2019 and this isn’t surprising. Customers are becoming far more reliant and indeed invested in this type of tech, so it’s certainly to be expected. Indeed, it’s going to overtake desktop computers and mobile will be the main point of purchase retail sales. This is according to the latest information and data.
If you’re familiar with retail demographics, you will know that 16-24 years olds are definitely the main target audience. It shouldn’t surprise you to learn that this group actually loves mobile purchases. But there’s another thing to keep in mind here. According to polls, they don’t want an optimized website. This quite shocking, because if you speak to a designed or indeed a marketer they will usually suggest you make this a priority. However, according to the latest research on the matter, customers in this age group are far more interested and indeed captivated by your use of apps. So, you should make sure that you have mobile apps. You can then use this to deliver the mobile content that this particular audience wants from you and indeed demands. There are various retail shops in the UK market in particular that recently have decided to embrace the app life.
Of course, it’s not just about creating a brand new app for your business. You also need to make sure that you are using apps that are already available on the market and this does include social media options such as WhatsApp. These should be part of your digital marketing strategy. There are even plans on the horizon for a brand new shopping app from Instagram. The app is expected to be called IG Shopping and it could have an impressive impact on the retail industry as a whole.
We hope this helps you understand some of the best options available now and on the horizon for your retail store. While it’s true that some of these are going to require a substantial investment, the returns they bring will make it worth it in the long run. That much we can guarantee.