by Shannon Flynn
It is no secret that COVID-19 has directly impacted the way consumers browse, shop, and purchase goods and services. The pandemic accelerated some of the changes that were already underway, such as the digitization of retail processes, the closing of brick-and-mortar stores, and the need to personalize the shopping experience.
Retail technology trends are ever-changing, but it is crucial for retailers to be aware of these trends to make the necessary adjustments to their operations. Adopting new technologies comes with its challenges — whether it is integrating artificial intelligence (AI) to help forecast demand or installing virtual fitting rooms in stores. As stores continue to reopen, it will be interesting to see upcoming trends in the industry that retailers can use to their advantage. Here are five retail technology trends that will shape the industry within the next five years:
#1. Augmented reality will become more prevalent in the customer shopping experience.
It is always the goal of a retailer to elevate the customer shopping experience. With augmented reality (AR), customers can seamlessly engage in a “try before you buy” process. For example, Rolex uses AR technology so customers can see what the watch would look like on their wrist before purchasing. This is especially useful for luxury brands that sell expensive products — consumers now have the opportunity to make more educated decisions about these considerable purchases. AR is changing the landscape of the retail industry in the years to come. Shoppers demand high-quality, engaging interactions in stores, and AR can help retailers deliver on that front.
#2. Ecommerce-friendly POS systems will help retailers.
With ecommerce on the rise, it should not come as a surprise that retailers will have to find innovative ways to reach their online shopper base. The line between in-person and online shopping is blurring as a result, and it will be necessary for retailers to integrate ecommerce and POS systems. The goal is for retailers to increase sales online while still maintaining steady growth in their stores. Taking steps to invest in an integrated POS system will prove beneficial for all types of retailers, whether you have a grocery store, a clothing store, or anything in between.
#3. Shopping will take place on social media platforms.
Consumers already spend so much time on their smartphones, so it is only logical that more shopping will take place on devices like iPhones and iPads. Many stores already have mobile apps that make the shopping experience much more convenient for customers. Retailers must be willing to embrace social media platforms and center their marketing efforts around them.
Brands can use social media to influence the buying decisions of both potential and loyal customers. This can be especially useful when trying to raise brand awareness and reach customers located across the globe, allowing them to expand their business operations and cater to a global audience.
#4. Transactions will be more efficient, and there will be a focus on contactless payment options.
It is likely that the demand for safe, convenient, and contactless payment options will still be prevalent post-pandemic. Reducing the use of frequent touchpoints will remain a priority, even after the pandemic becomes a thing of the past. Consumers are aware of their health and well-being now more than ever, so retailers will need to adjust to this newfound awareness and make the necessary accommodations to meet customer expectations.
#5. Voice assistant shopping will gain traction.
More shoppers are investing in innovative home technology, including voice assistants like Google Home or Amazon Alexa. The rise in voice assistant usage will change the way customers shop for their goods and services, making the process more convenient and frictionless. It is predicted that there will be over eight billion voice assistants in use by 2024 — so retailers must account for this massive disruption in the industry. After spending more time at home, more shoppers have come to rely on their voice assistants for various reasons — users can conduct product research, order products, and track deliveries.
Adjusting to Changes in the Retail Industry
While some of the changes listed above may take more time to break into the retail industry, retailers need to adopt new technologies to improve their business operations. Meeting customers where they are at will open up more opportunities to build a loyal customer base. Happy customers tend to spend more, and if retailers want to see business growth, they will have to take specific measures to ensure customer satisfaction.