From hospitality to customer service, Industry 4.0 is impacting every sector including retail. Until now, technology has given businesses the ability to do more with less, but embracing technology hasn’t been a do-or-die necessity until now.
With an increasingly mobile world of more demanding consumers, those that fail to adapt to new technologies may quickly find themselves being left in a trail of dust.
Here are 5 tech trends that are changing the face of retail.
While e-commerce is doing a booming business, it is not poised to put brick and mortar stores out of business any time soon.
However, consumers want the ability to purchase products at 2:00 am, but be able to also quickly pick up items they need immediately at a physical store.
For retailers to thrive, they need to create numerous shopping channels, which includes social media.
Artificial intelligence (AI)
Thinking of artificial intelligence, many of us are not aware we are already interacting with it on a daily basis.
Currently, millions of people around the world use digital assistants like Siri or Cortana and businesses are using customer service chatbots on their websites.
Soon, customers will be able to use AI-driven apps to help locate items in a store without having to hunt down a salesperson for assistance.
AI is also helping stores schedule their cashiers in increments of 15 minutes to have exactly the right amount of help necessary to meet demand, without scheduling unnecessary employees.
AR and VR technology
In 2012, Audi opened the first-ever vehicle showroom, without cars. Soon, retailers of all kinds will be able to take advantage of VR and AR technology to cut down even further on retail space.
Clothing stores of the future may be nothing more than seating areas with VR goggles. Customers can try on virtual clothing without having to physically undress and try them all on.
Clothing can be stored in the back until it is purchased, with just a few items out front to entice buyers.
Internet of things (IoT)
Steve Jobs said that customers don’t know what they want until they see it. What he meant is – you have to listen to what your customers are doing with current products and find the gaps.
By 2025, an estimated 75 billion connected devices are projected to be in use around the world. Faster wireless networks like 5G and or Wi-fi 6 that transmit data faster enable fast growth of the smart device industry.
These devices will generate a staggering amount of user data and give retailers an unprecedented look into both the shopping and usage habits of their customers.
New tech trends will affect both customers and staff. In advanced retail stores that introduce smartwatches and wireless headsets, urgent tasks can be communicated seamlessly, thus providing a satisfying experience for both parties.
With the range of IoT devices poised to hit the market, the time has come for retailers to make strategic partnerships.
Starbucks recently teamed up with Microsoft to develop a connected coffee maker. The manufacturers of smart home devices have to choose a home hub supplier to partner with and hope they remain an industry leader.
The race for self-driving cars is on, with several tech giants leading the pack. The ultimate victor will be the car manufacturer that is already enabling their cars with tech from whatever giant gets its product ready first.
For retailers to truly stay ahead of the trends, alliances with the right tech partners will become essential.
The general concern is that technology will take away jobs. The truth is, however, that every new innovation creates jobs. Technology is creating better, safer, more “premium” jobs and taking on the unpleasant jobs no one likes to do anyway.
While the rise of technology in retail will help retailers do more with less, it isn’t likely to take away jobs any time soon.
While these trends may be exclusive to bigger stores that can afford them, as it always happens with technology, it is only a matter of time before they become affordable for all.
When you think about it, a few years ago you couldn’t have dreamed about having a smartwatch on your wrist, listen to music on a set of earphones barely seen from a distance and set the room temperature remotely. The future is now.
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