A Retail Revolution?

A Retail Revolution?

As we become more accustomed to ordering things online, from the comfort of our own homes, the standard retail store might be thought of as becoming somewhat obsolete. Why wait around in queues, behind that person who has a trolley full when you have a bottle of water? Then there is the dilemma of going to the self-service machines and being told there is an unexpected item in the baggage area. However, as new technologies come forward, such as the smart store, and the construction industry continues to evolve, is there a big opportunity here to improve the retail customer’s experience?

According to a report by industry analysts Barbour ABI, even though the internet continues to eat into the share of retail spending, this has not detracted the industry from building more stores, even though these tend to be smaller project contracts. The task facing retailers today is to improve and enhance the customer experience. Shopper expectations are evolving, they want products and services tailored to their individual tastes and desires. There are signs that we could be heading into a smart retail future.

New technologies are springing up all the time. It’s expected within the next few years that shoppers will be able to pay for their items as they go on their smartphones, saving the need for those annoying queues. There are interactive stores opening, which has the merchandise displayed on smart fixtures, such as glass top digital displays. Interactive mirror displays in the futuristic fitting rooms allow customers to make purchases or request alternate products without leaving their room. A shopper will be recommended a product based on what they have been browsing. As they walk by, a shelf on the wall will actually move towards them to recommend the item it holds. Shoppers can check out on their own via a mobile app. These are some of the technologies currently in operation.

It is becoming all about ensuring the shopping experience is all about the shoppers, as retail should be. Data – coupled with the arts of design and merchandising – drives product selections on the floor, with analytics applications optimizing assortment planning and the like. Computers that can see, hear, and understand the world around them will enable brands and retailers to hold new types of interactions with shoppers, and tell stories in new ways. It is an exciting revolutionary phase in retail.

The retail industry needs to ensure it does not dismiss and ignore the ever growing needs and expectations of its customers, as there are simply too many global alternatives for frustrated shoppers to turn to. The technology is ready and a new era for retail is around the corner. It’s time to swap the trolley for the tablet.

What do you think the retail experience will be like in the future? Let us know in our LinkedIn post!

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