If you’re like most retailers, you’re probably in a constant search for the newest trends, technologies, and fads. Particularly during these trying times, it is important to find ways that technology can aid in sales and customer loyalty. However, staying on top of all this information can be difficult, and it can be hard to weed out the contenders from the non-contenders. This is why we decided to make a comprehensive list of what we think are the most relevant technology trends for 2020. Drop us a comment if you think we’re missing out on one of your favorite tools!
IOT and Smart Equipment
Smart technology has taken the world by storm, and includes many commonplace items such as smartphones, smart watches, speaker systems, bluetooth devices, and smart lighting, as well as some lesser-seen but equally prominent devices. IoT, or the Internet of Things, includes any item that has a connection to the internet. However most of these items do not possess the type of internet we are used to, where we can use the device to browse or interact with online elements. With IoT, the devices interact autonomously with the internet, without needing any human intervention. For example, a traffic sensor that detects traffic patterns and then sends signals to a network which alerts nearby drivers of a traffic blockage. Another example would be a light detector, which can dim or brighten all of the lights in a building based on how much sunlight is entering the building.
This has become a major retail technology trend for many reasons, the main one being the reduction of costs. Particularly when it comes to shipping goods, IoT can be applied to track the temperature, location, and quality of an item that is in transit. It can also be used to determine where waste is occurring along the product’s journey, and can analyze the effectiveness of your supply chain. Additionally, devices such as refrigerators, air conditioners, security cameras, and cash registers, can also be connected to the IoT, and can then be controlled and monitored from a remote location. This allows a department (eg. maintenance) to see how each piece of equipment in each store is performing, and get ahead of problems.
It is easy to see why this retail technology trend has taken off as one of the most popular online-marketing tools, as it allows businesses to provide customers with on demand engagement, and enables them to express their concerns, questions, and comments whenever is most convenient for them. With attention spans and patience decreasing with each generation, this feature is particularly popular because of its 24/7 availability, and fast response times. Customers expect this feature to be on your website, and you don’t want to disappoint them.
Another great feature of chatbots is they allow you to capture a significant number of leads. Visitors to your website will be much more likely to hand over their email to a chatbot in order to get an answer to their question, rather than fill in a form with their information. If they feel that their experience with the chatbot is personalized and that your company really cares to answer their questions, they are more likely to enjoy their experience, thus returning and becoming a loyal customer. In fact, 82% of consumers say that a quick response is important when they have pertinent questions.
Augmented reality, or AR, is a unique technology trend that has been around for quite some time, but is something that many people are still in the dark about. Whether it’s wondering about the difference between Augmented and Virtual reality (virtual reality is 100% digitized, while augmented reality is not), or not understanding the added benefit, many companies are hesitant to adopt this retail technology trend.
Many corporations have recognized the added value from AR, and use it to improve their marketing strategy, generate creative in-store displays, enable people to test out items before buying them, and limit their inventory. Audi has used AR in order to allow their customers to create their own road and “test drive” miniaturized cars in 3D. Amazon has created a way for their packaging department to be able to “see inside” dangerous goods boxes in an attempt to limit risk to the items and the employees. Ikea has famously created their own app which allows their customers to visualize furniture in their homes before purchasing. L’Oréal and other cosmetics companies have embedded makeup filters into their app and stores in order for customers to “try on” different shades and styles of makeup before buying.
Studies have shown that nearly half of consumers are more likely to purchase a product if they have first sampled it in augmented reality. Additionally, Forbes states that a study of 1000 American adults showed that 61% of them have been influenced to shop somewhere because of the presence of AR. If these statistics aren’t enough evidence that AR is a retail technology trend to pay attention to, Poplar reports that 9 out of 10 brands plan to use AR in their campaigns. Not being the last business to adopt this growing trend should be a good enough reason to get your foot in the door.
Buy Online, Pickup in Store
Buy online, pickup in store (BOPIS) has been around for most of the last decade. It was created as a way for stores to compete with big online retailers, like Amazon, by allowing customers the convenience of shopping online, while giving them the ability to have their items right away and not pay for shipping costs. Around half the customers surveyed in the Retail Trend Report state that they made additional in-store purchases when picking up their items.
Whereas some retail technology trends are more common for millenials to adopt quickly, BOPIS is one that actually appeals largely to the “busy-parent” demographic, with the most common age range being 35-55. Busy parents often find themselves in a bind, whether their child needs something for school the next day, or they need groceries in order to make dinner. BOPIS allows these parents to shop from the comfort of their own home, without having to take the kids on long and sometimes strenuous shopping trips. Once they are ready to pick up the items, all they must do is head to the online order pickup area, and then are free to quickly make their way back home in time for the next thing on their busy agenda.
Mobile shopping is more popular than ever, and although more purchases are still completed on desktop PC’s, most browsing takes place on people’s smartphones. This is why it is extremely important to optimize your mobile shopping experience, as well as maintain a great shopping experience on PC. For the reason that most browsing happens on mobile devices, it is crucial to make it as simple as possible for customers to search, log in, and add items to their cart. It is also important to make sure that these things are possible and straightforward for customers to do directly from social media or marketing emails.
Making your website mobile-friendly is crucial to retaining customers and After small business “GreenPal” optimized their website for mobile users, their mobile conversion rate skyrocketed from a mere 4% to an incredible 82%. In addition to customers finding websites which are not optimized for mobile phones difficult to use, these websites tend to be ranked a lot lower by Google. This is because Google rankings have a lot to do with bounce-rates, or how long a visitor stays on your site. If your website is not optimized for mobile, you are likely to have a very high bounce rate because of visitors becoming frustrated and leaving after a short period of time.
Automated checkout is a retail technology trend that is particularly appreciated by Millennials and Gen Z, with 46% of recent survey respondents aged 18 to 35 saying that when given a choice, they prefer using automated checkout over a cashier. That preference declines significantly with age, with 35% of respondents aged 35-54, and only 19% of those over 55, saying they prefer self checkout. This is most likely due to the fact that individuals over 35 grew accustomed to interacting with a cashier upon checkout, and are less likely to successfully troubleshoot technical issues with the machines as they arise.
There were 191,000 of these machines in 2013, and that number was expected to increase to 335,000 by 2020. In addition to traditional self-checkout machines, just-walk-out checkout is making waves, as Amazon announces plans to implement this in their stores. The technology allows customers to skip the checkout altogether, and be charged automatically upon exiting the store.
In addition to retail, artificial intelligence is used in many fields, most prominently healthcare, law, finance, and marketing. These industries all appreciate the way that AI can help them predict trends and thus perform more efficiently. In retail, AI can help predict buying behavior and enable stores to move inventory more efficiently. Clothing stores such as H&M rely heavily on this technology to maintain an inventory that is customized to their customers’ needs. AI can take the data of what items are selling best at each store, and replenish the inventory accordingly. It can also be used to design floor plans, by analyzing how well items sell in each section of the store.
In addition to utilizing AI’s ability to make predictions and recognize trends, some retail brands use AI to help personalize their customers’ shopping experience. Some cosmetics companies use AI to analyze a scan of a customer’s face and provide personalized recommendations for shades of foundation, eye shadow, concealer, and lipstick. Skincare brand Olay uses AI to create personalized treatment plans for their customers. This can greatly improve brand loyalty by making customers feel like they are treated as individuals, and their unique needs are taken into account. Another way that retail companies can take advantage of artificial intelligence is by using object recognition technology. Neiman Marcus uses an app that allows users to scan objects and get recommendations for similar items to buy from their store.
Connect with us on social media to let us know what YOUR favorite technology trend is!