Director of Marketing
Love it or hate it: We are a tech-savvy society. It’s no surprise consumers want to use their favorite devices and apps to browse, compare and shop wherever and whenever they like. Retailers who aren’t investing in technology will likely be left behind. Let’s take a look at four retail technology trends impacting the industry today.
Trend 1: Touch screens tablets
Whether free-standing, tabletop or mounted, touch screens are front and center in many retail settings, including car showrooms, restaurants and stores. Uses for this technology include product demonstration, payment processing, interactive videos and inventory management. Touch screens are an excellent way to get customers more involved and engaged.
In 2017 at their free-standing stores, MAC Cosmetics launched a virtual try-on mirror. By using augmented reality, the mirror lets customers try on a curated set of makeup styles without actually applying any products.
Trend 2: Location beacons
What started as a novelty is becoming more accepted as retailers better understand how to use proximity marketing in a way that consumers find acceptable. Location-based technologies, such as Bluetooth-connected beacons, enable personalized, real-time messages, offers and promotions to be delivered through smartphones. Macy’s, Lord & Taylor and Urban Outfitters are a few of the brands that are already on board.
Trend 3: Virtual assistants
Asking Siri or Alexa a question has become part of most people’s daily routines. Virtual or digital assistants are making their way into our shopping activities too, heralding the advent of voice-generated purchases. For example, LG produces refrigerators that can order groceries thanks to Amazon’s Alexa. In fact, voice shopping is expected to jump to $40 billion in 2022, up from $2 billion today, according to data from OC&C Strategy Consultants. Industry experts suggest this new channel may become the next major disruptive force in retail.
Trend 4: Human-free interactions
Retail is responding to customers’ changing demands in a number of ways. Cashier-less self-checkout registers are becoming more commonplace. In-store package pick-up kiosks, like the ones Whole Foods offers at certain locations for Amazon Prime orders, are a convenient option for customers concerned about porch thefts. Mobile ordering and checkout kiosks with mobile app payments are quite popular in fast-casual restaurants too. In fact, California eatery CaliBurger took that concept one step further by linking facial recognition to its loyalty program. Members using an ordering kiosk are shown their favorite meals based on previous purchases. They can even pay for their purchase without the need for a physical or digital wallet.