With the collapse of many well-known high street giants and the continued dominance of Amazon and Alibaba, retail executives know that smart use of digital technologies will be crucial to survive and thrive in today’s competitive environment. Here are three trends playing out currently.
E-commerce made it quicker and easier to shop with our favourite brands, but that doesn’t mean that consumers are rejecting the physical store. Instead, tech-savvy retailers are using technology to create memorable, personalised experiences in-store to enhance brand awareness and drive sales, such as Topshop’s in-store waterslide, or Audi’s VR showroom. While many retailers move towards self-checkout, mobile point-of-sale, or pay-in-aisle technology to streamline costs, there is a need to focus on retail employees to enhance the instore experience: training staff to be knowledgeable, passionate advocates for the brand.
Search options grow
Online shopping goes much further than the search bar on your desktop computer. Now visual and voice search is becoming more prominent, delivered through mobile or app-based experiences. Consumers can use a photo to search for an item online – particularly useful for visually appealing products like fashion and homeware – with retailers either developing their own tech or partnering with the likes of Pintrest, Snapchat and Instagram. Voice search, while it’s not quite gone mainstream, is growing fast, with brands from ASOS to Walmart introducing voice search features using Google Assistant.
Robotics and AI will streamline fulfilment
With the news that Amazon is using over 100,000 robots in fulfilment centres worldwide, the need for retailers to deploy robotics and automated technologies to streamline fulfilment has become more pressing. (Ocado’s use of robotics and machine learning at their Andover, UK site is another example), As customers demand increasingly convenience such as same day delivery, back office fulfilment will be critical to deliver the best customer experience.