Because of the coronavirus pandemic, 2020 was a bittersweet year for the retail industry. Although some of the companies were able to rapidly adjust to the quick shift in market conditions and consumer behavior flourished, others have been pushed to either adapt or close down the store and move in online. During COVID-19, several companies have embraced digital technology for their survival.
In order to enhance their systems, operations, or user experience, many retailers have started to implement the technology. However, many technology developments are evolving with evolving customer habits and technology advances.
Here are some of the most significant retail technology trends you should look out for this year
Artificial Intelligence will take a huge role in user experience
Even last year, AI has played a crucial role in improving the consumer experience. Several large brands began integrating AI solutions in their customer service and online assets, such as chatbots and virtual assistants. Robots have also been installed in different stores around the world to serve consumers. In the coming year, we should hope to see more of these robots on shop floors and virtual assistants resolving our questions and concerns.
Artificial Intelligence in retail can
- enhance logistics & stock management
- measure marketing data
- promote better business decisions
AI constantly seeks new innovative applications in different aspects of retail. It’s very clear at this stage that AI will be part of the retail scenery for decades to come.
The importance of Data Visibility
While Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning can play a greater role in improving customer experience, they still rely on customer information. Today, brands face the problem of inadequate and inconsistent data. They’re going to have to get used to a world without third-party cookies to add to this obstacle. They fail to offer a streamlined experience to their customers due to a lack of available data and centralized data.
This lack of visibility does not allow the brand to customize the full journey of a customer and provide a unique experience.
For retailers in the post-pandemic era, optimizing data will be crucial. To develop strategies that keep consumers satisfied and boost sales, they must calculate and attribute customer value.
To do so, retailers must use real-time data applications to create online and on-site customized shopper experiences, which is necessary for them in order to have any chance of success.
The focus will be on automation
Automation has typically played a key role in online retail and will continue to do so, as more forms of payment and innovations arise. Automation, moreover, expands into other fields, such as inventory management, gaining valuable product and consumer behavior, optimizing the supply chain, shipping goods, and providing consumers with customized experiences. Robotic process automation (RPA) and hyper-automation using Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence are now being used by many retailers.
Artificial Intelligence advancements and visual recognition enable retailers to automate online product recommendations to users based on behavior and preferences.
Retail automation can imply a series of things:
- Manual retail process automation: This entails activities such as inventory management, accounting, reporting on analytics, ordering, and other related and repetitive tasks.
- Automated commerce: We’re talking about automated purchasing, subscriptions, recurring payments, and similar concepts.
- Marketing automation: In order to continuously promote your company without tedious maintenance, technology makes it possible to set and forget email sequences, retargeting campaigns, and other marketing techniques.
Cybersecurity for user data protection
Many users are not aware of all the data on the internet that they leave behind:
- ID and payment information
- purchase history
- geolocation data
- medical records
- education history
- demographic identifiers
- family details, and so on.
Data privacy has become a major concern, and companies are already working to comply with new GDPR and CCPA regulations.
Privacy-aware retailers notify consumers about what kind of information they collect. They offer the possibility of handling (deleting or modifying) this information and receiving it in a machine-readable format. Experts and services in cybersecurity are in high demand at the moment, helping companies secure their information from cybercriminals.
More about the growing importance of cybersecurity here – Cybersecurity in 2021 – What You Need to Know
Augmented and Virtual reality
How will this product look like in real life?
In retail, this issue for online shoppers is covered by the use of Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality. The customer interaction rate is really increased by Augmented Reality & Virtual Reality technologies. These innovative technologies are gaining popularity.
By encouraging consumers to look at 3D images of goods instead of the normal posters, they provide a more interactive user experience.
Many domains have been invaded by microservice architecture. As contrasted with the old-school monolithic system design, it is a life-saver. Shortly, it makes it possible to break big software systems into smaller services.
Each service can be independently created and supported while keeping in contact with the others via an API. Even in a different programming language or on a different platform. For retailers, this means it is now possible to substitute outdated old legacy systems with an alternative that allows: enhanced speed, ease of modification, easy cloud integration, versatility for omnichannel sale, 5G
Launched in 2020, the 5G service has a 20x faster speed than 4G. The future of retail and eCommerce will definitely be influenced by this. Higher connectivity from our phones is needed for diverse new features such as Cloud and AR, and 5G will provide that. 5G will enable retail stores to implement a range of modern techs, such as:
- improved IoT devices and even robots with extended battery life because of low energy consumption with 5G
- greater customization with new high-speed real-time data transfer, including dynamic pricing and automated checkouts.
- simple gamification adoption
IoT devices and wearables
For the retail industry, IoT devices give a huge opportunity to simplify processes and eliminate manual labor:
- automated checkouts
- robot employees
- smart shelves
- warehouse, and supply chains automation, etc
In-store management is improved by IoT technology, offering improved customer experience, quicker service, efficient product placement, predictive maintenance of equipment, and much more. IoT devices in retail, being at the intersection of digital and physical, help exploit all spheres to produce better performance.
Heading into the future
There has been a big transformation in the way retailers do business and customers shop. From subscriptions and flexible payments to seamless loyalty across platforms, digital tools and advanced technology will be essential to sale in 2021, as these habits continue to grow.
We encourage you to take a more in-depth look at the data, patterns, and behaviors you see in your company and community, and then take action to plan for the future.
And if you feel like your retail business is stuck at a crossroads, we are here to help you! We work with both start-ups and large businesses, offering software development services, consulting services, and much more. For more info, contact us!