How Technology is Reshaping the Future of Retail Industry
The two-year-long drought of in-person experiences posed a decent challenge for retail stores. Moreover, the convenience of shopping from home removed several logistical requirements.
Contrary to widespread assumption, the pandemic not only boosted interest in brick-and-mortar stores, but the quick technological advancement also enhanced the in-store experience.
But what will this technological growth look like in the coming years for the average consumer?
Read along for the five distinct ways technology alters and improves the retail experience for customers and businesses.
Implementation of BOPIS (Buy Online, Pick-up In-Store)
Customers were unable to visit businesses in person due to health concerns and pandemic-imposed rules; thus, retailers implemented or expanded their curbside pickup and BOPIS services.
Retailers are leveraging current technologies to provide a more integrated BOPIS and pickup experience. Furthermore, by providing a more detailed picture of inventory, technology such as RFID can reduce canceled orders and other difficulties that may impair customer experience.
Shopper insight tools can help merchants manage their staff to ensure they have enough employee resources on hand to fulfill online purchases during peak periods.
Abundant Use of AI
Artificial intelligence (AI) technologies can assist retailers in gaining real-time information regarding customers, associates, and the overall retail setting. More on that ahead!
Consumer Behavior Analysis
Artificial intelligence can effectively measure a customer’s buying patterns and interests, what they’re spending money on, and demographics. This can help companies understand how they should sell to their target audiences.
A user’s activity can be observed when they browse an online store or engage in social media activities. Consumer behavior may be analyzed using information such as what products their mouse lingers over, the time they invest on a particular website, and where they come from. Any online marketer who uses analytics platforms is familiar with this data.
AI can speed up this process and make life considerably easy for retail business owners.
AI technology may also help with inventory planning, customer and supplier relationship management, logistics, production, and marketing.
When demand can be forecast more correctly, things may be manufactured and ordered based on how much the consumer needs. Thus, demand forecasting leads to more environmentally friendly consumption and manufacturing.
Further, ML-based demand forecasting systems are far more adaptable and versatile. Machine learning can be applied much faster, which is why it also has the potential to track client demand patterns more effectively.
Despite the ease of rich databases and computer systems, their underlying complexity has resulted in significant inefficiency due to mistakes. And addressing these challenges is crucial for businesses to save time and money.
Artificial intelligence can aid in managing these inventories in a variety of ways. For instance, AI may use consumer spending statistics to forecast when specific items on the sales floor are more likely to move.
Thus, the system may require human auditing of some sections over others. While inspecting the complete store is a challenging feat, assessing only the areas that need attention is far more efficient.
Application of Data Science
Big data and advanced analytics enabled by digitization empower companies to collect information from various contact points and consumer behavior to provide more precise and tailored services. Data also allows businesses to connect each stage of the supply chain and move information between stages of the chain.
According to a Forbes study, personalization has directly impacted growing sales and direct-to-consumer profits, boosting it by a whopping 40%.
Today, brands are using data to fully customize the shopper’s experience on their e-commerce sites, increasing engagement and profits. This tailoring ranges from customization of items to personalized offers and product recommendations – all accomplished by studying the available data.
Use of Augmented Reality (AR) for Improved Customer Experience
Before the pandemic, many businesses adopted augmented reality (AR), building virtual displays and fitting rooms to let buyers experience things in virtual environments. These brands also pioneered the “try-before-you-buy” strategy. This technology found several takers since it allows customers to shop from the comfort of their own homes.
Augmented reality systems can also assist store staff in visualizing shelves before setting them up. AR-enabled enterprise devices may show a 3D planogram on the sales floor to guide the setup procedure. Employers may find it simpler to place shelves and fixtures in their correct positions due to this.
Fascinating and incredibly convenient, the need for cashiers and checkout counters can be eliminated through cameras, machine vision, IoT, and RFID technology. Combining these can monitor consumers around the store and automatically bill them for products they pick up.
Customers will have a better experience at cashier-less establishments since they no longer have to wait in seemingly endless checkout lineups. This technology can also minimize overhead expenses by decreasing the requirement for physical labor in retail.
Data on customer activity and movement inside a store will also allow retailers to make informed inventory-related decisions.
The retail consumption space has expanded, and the times demand a quick solution to every problem. It can start with the utilization of BOPIS and AI and move into more complex technologies like AR and predictive analytics.
The future is already present in countries such as Japan and South Korea, where cashless stores are abundant. The rest of the world only needs to take notice and adopt it as a way of life.
Retail is flourishing, even after the pandemic, despite its disastrous effects. Therefore, as businesses look towards their future, they should strongly consider these technological applications and the role they can play in enhancing the customer experience and employee satisfaction.