Dress for Success: How to Keep Up With Retail Technology Trends
To satisfy customer expectations for a convenient, seamless shopping experience, retailers recognize that they need to be at the forefront of retail technology trends, and are widely investing in digital solutions to this end.
However, keeping up with the rapid pace at which the technology changes isn’t easy. A whopping 88 percent of retail business and IT executives believe the pace of technology change will increase at an unprecedented rate over the next three years, according to Accenture. Retailers are faced with the challenge of staying constantly innovative. To differentiate themselves, they’re expanding into mobile storefronts, adding social channels, increasing their use of analytics to make data-informed decisions and moving infrastructure and applications to the cloud.
The Latest Retail Technology Trends
Chicago-based retail technology consultant Jim Dion told Monster that retailers need to address four key areas to stay atop of retail technology trends: convenience, price, size and speed. Whereas omnichannel experiences and digital wallets were dominant in 2015, this year has brought new retail technology trends, including expanding the use of location-based beacons to dedicated zones inside brick-and-mortar stores to provide real-time content geared at a consumer’s area of product interest.
The beacons also help retailers communicate with shoppers using the store’s mobile app to provide 3-D store maps, offer product information, remind them about loyalty points they may have accrued and alert them to special deals. Some of that content will include augmented reality as well.
Leveraging IoT Devices for Data
The retail industry is also faced with figuring out how to use the volumes of information it produces. Couple that with the fact that the Internet of Things (IoT) will add significantly to the growing amount of big data. Gartner is projecting there will be nearly 20.8 billion IoT-connected devices in the next four years. Using cloud computing, retailers can securely integrate existing systems with these devices to access new sources of data.
These devices are specifically expected to provide greater insights into all sorts of consumer habits, preferences and shopping activities. To keep up with this retail technology trend, it behooves retailers to process this data from connected devices in real time.
Another growing trend is touchscreen or “smart mirrors,” a type of connected IoT device. The mirrors allow shoppers to choose different lighting in fitting rooms, request items that are tagged with RFID chips, see items in different colors and sizes and keep track of what they’ve tried on, according to Retail Dive.
The RFID tags provide employees with insights into which items are in stock, including by size and color, and buyers can see what other people are bringing into the fitting rooms and buying together. Retailers can also glean what was tried on but not purchased.
Since retailer Ralph Lauren installed smart-mirror dressing rooms at the end of 2015, the company has seen an engagement rate of 90 percent, which is higher than it expected, according to Digiday. Consumers tend to make purchase decisions once they’ve tried something on in a dressing room, so it makes sense to invest in making them more user-friendly.
To remain relevant and competitive, the retail industry must continue to provide a satisfactory shopping experience. Retail technologies can help solve the challenge of how to engage customers, provide personalized attention, connect with them in the right place at the right time and gain visibility into customers across all touchpoints. The retailers who are willing to experiment and stay focused on what they can provide consumers (that their competitors don’t) will build and retain brand loyalty.