Technology: The Future of Retail

The retail world is evolving constantly and the continuous developments are showing no signs of slowing. The advancements in technology are increasing customer expectations, forcing retailers to be more creative and forward thinking with their marketing strategies in order to keep their consumers engaged. A report by Samsung found 94% of retailers believe the customer of the future will be driven by technology – highlighting the significance of technology in the retail world.

Competition has always been present within retailers but now there appears more than ever. Almost anyone can sell anything online. Technology advancements have allowed companies to start their brand online to test the market and build brand awareness before committing to and financing a store. This reduces the business cost risk massively, which explains the volume of new e-tailers entering the market pressuring physical retailers to lower prices.

In recent years shopping has become more about an experience for consumers, rather than the actual purchase. Customers are now in control of; what, when, how and where they buy. They are now dominating how retailers market themselves, and they are demanding a personal, convenient, innovative experience, and technology allows retailers to supply this.

In-store technology is taking over and changing the customer shopping experience. Sales Assistants can now be equipped with IPads allowing them quick access to information and stock levels, and enabling those to complete orders and transactions anywhere on the shop floor, this decreases the wait time – delivering a convenient personal experience to each customer.

Virtual fitting rooms are now being introduced allowing consumers to ‘try on’ clothes without the hassle of getting changed. They can share images instantly with friends and family on social media, create a ‘wardrobe’ and some will allow you to purchase directly. Virtual fitting rooms are a newly emerging initiative which will enhance the customer shopping experience.

Mobiles are now playing a big part in retailers’ technology based strategy, mobile payments are becoming increasingly popular and work brilliantly in reducing the customers wait time. Some stores are now introducing apps which can really personalise the customer experience by guiding shoppers around the store, using their previous payments to show them similar new products, sending them relevant exclusive offers, and directly communicating via texts. Bringing mobiles into the retail world has opened massive opportunities to connect with the consumer 24/7 on a whole new level!

Data analytics are now available to gain further insight into consumers. Mobile and advanced POS systems can log consumer behaviour, creating a transparent retail world. Retailers are consumer centric with their strategies and developments, and technology is allowing them to understand more and more about their customer, what they demand, allowing retailers to meet their desires in great detail.

Technology is the future of retail and it is not something to shy away from or fear, it is assisting the most outrageous and creative ideas to become reality –Robots are even entering the retail world!

Technology has and is continuing to transform the customer experience and allowing exciting new innovative ideas to be introduced constantly. Technology will increase the customer desire to shop in store, improve their experience and eliminate rumours of bricks being in danger – shops are here to stay!

Katrina Whitehead, Marketing & Operations Exec, Foundation Recruitment

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