Technology in retail stores is no longer our future, it’s the here and now and it’s changing the way we do business across every sector. In brick-and-mortar retail stores, it wasn’t that long ago we were writing cheques and using manual credit card machines. Now, it’s app payments, click and collect, and cashierless checkout.
With the rise of smartphone technology, social media platforms, and virtual reality, there are many opportunities to embrace technology. Retailers and brands can provide a slick and elevated customer experience, and ultimately, increase sales.
In this article, we explore:
- The most-used technology in retail stores
- How to effectively use this technology
- What the future of tech in retail might look like
The top 10 most-used technologies in retail stores
There’s no denying that the rise of online retail is a threat to brick-and-mortar stores. The pandemic has driven shoppers online, and in 2020, 87% of individuals in the UK made online purchases.
But physical retail has the chance to make a comeback as the need for a full retail experience grows and consumers crave more socially immersive experiences. By welcoming new technology, retail stores can set themselves apart, increase lead conversion, and use innovative retail design to get customers excited to step in store again.
With that in mind, here are the 10 retail technologies making a splash right now. Whether that’s because they’re accessible, affordable, they provide an innovative customer experience, or they drive conversions.
1. Digital signage
Signage connects the power of tech with the physical retail experience, creating holistic and proven engagement, with digital signs attracting 400% more views than static signs.
Digital signs can also be used to help streamline the customer experience. From visually sharing information about products to responding to real-time surges in demand. For example, changing out digital window displays based on the weather. Or helping direct customers around your store.
It’s tech-savvy, convenient for staff and shoppers, and drives sales.
2. Buy online, pick up in-store
Straddling the line between e-commerce and in-store experience, click and collect is one technology in retail that has seen a boom since the pandemic.
While there are obvious benefits here, such as persuading customers back into the store and encouraging impulse purchases, it’s only a good experience for shoppers when it’s executed right.
The Nike House of Innovation 000 is a great example of how to enhance the click and collect user experience. The Speed Shop invites customers to digitally reserve shoes to try on, arrive through a different entrance, open their own allocated locker with their smartphone. If they decide they want to buy, they can do that via their mobile device too.
There are no queues, no interactions, and it’s the ultimate convenient solution.
3. Automated checkout
We’re seeing a sustained increase in demand when it comes to automated checkout in retail. The lack of cashier interaction is particularly beneficial these days, when many customers feel more comfortable with limited face-to-face connection. And it’s a faster way to shop.
In this article from Forbes, 85% of surveyed customers said they believe that automated checkout was faster, and 48.7% also said they use self-checkout all the time.
Amazon is already cashing in on the cashierless checkout idea with the Amazon Go store, allowing customers to shop and go without any physical kind of checkout, which is done via mobile using sensor and computer vision technology (more on this in #9 below).
4. Interactive retail displays
Interactive displays work across many avenues. Not only can you create compelling and exciting interactive experiences for customers, but you can also use this kind of technology in retail to collect valuable data.
Interactive retail displays can be used to track footfall and measure engagement with advertising in real-time.
Interactive displays can be educational without being invasive, and they provide retailers with unparalleled control over their content and the ability to make almost real-time adjustments.
5. Interactive kiosks
Bridging the divide between an online presence and a brick-and-mortar store is the interactive kiosk.
From placing orders to making payments, sharing information, wayfinding, and inviting customers to control their own shopping narrative, they are an ideal platform for the modern customer experience.
JD Sports implemented the use of iPads in store for customer use back in 2014, a decision which accounted for £14.3 million in sales that year.
Interactive kiosks also help companies reduce staff costs and can be a gold mine for collecting customer data, tracking buying patterns, and driving sales.
6. Endless aisle solutions
Why stop at the shelf when you can maximise sales with an endless aisle solution?
With the endless aisle, customers can go beyond the confines of the in-store experience. Shoppers can browse and order items that aren’t readily available. This blend of virtual technology in a brick-and-mortar setting increases conversion rates. It also offers inventory expansion without making demands on physical space.
With 40% of customers having to break loyalty to brands because products they want to purchase aren’t available, the endless aisle is an essential solution for securing a sale.
Customers get the satisfaction of the store experience and the benefit of wider product choice – without having to go somewhere else.
7. Real-time inventory management
Stock data in real-time can only be a good thing for streamlining inventory management.
Access to accurate timely data can keep savvy retailers one step ahead as they effectively manage stock flow and forecasting to make sure the shop floor doesn’t run dry. It also helps stores reduce waste.
This isn’t just a solution for backend management, but also on the shop floor. Customers can track stock in real-time which can encourage faster purchase decisions.
8. On the spot payments
Digital payment solutions are on the rise, and not just because they help to speed up the shopping process.
Contactless payments went from 209 million in April 2020 to 519 million in June of the same year. In the wake of the pandemic, consumer habits have changed – but so has the way brick and mortar stores operate.
Many retail stores have had to count customers and reduce numbers in their stores to safely function. Reduced numbers mean reduced sales, and quick turnaround becomes even more important.
On the spot payment systems encourage speed and invite a quick and convenient checkout solution. Not only are they useful as we creep back out of the pandemic, but they are also a great solution for busy periods, such as Christmas and during sales.
9. Cashierless stores
Robotics is changing the retail industry, and embracing these concepts can set brands ahead of the curve.
The cashierless store has been growing since its Amazon inception in 2018, with big brands like Tesco, Walmart, Decathlon, and Bingobox getting onboard.
Convenience, speed, and creating a frictionless shopping experience are the benefits. In this study from Omnico, 52% of customers expressed frustration at having to wait to pay for their goods in-store. Cashierless stores are a great way to solve that pain point.
10. Facial recognition
Facial recognition technology tracks demographics and follows how customers interact with the store, such as by tracking how they move around and which displays they find the most compelling.
It can also be used to boost customer service satisfaction as it helps staff recognise customers, build a relationship, and encourage a more personal experience – and it’s also a safety measure against theft.
How can retailers & brands get started with retail tech?
Knowing your reasons behind introducing technology into your own retail stores or product displays will help you to select solutions based on your desired objectives and outcomes. There are many reasons for introducing tech into your retail space, including:
- Efficiency – making it easier for staff and customers to have a seamless experience.
- Branding – modernising your brand to appeal to a more tech-savvy audience.
- Information – inviting informed choices and giving customers the tools they need to make purchase decisions.
With the wide range of technology in retail now available, the first step you need to take is to speak to a retail technology solutions provider about your objectives and understand the options available.
Knowing what your options are, how they can be tailored to fit your brand or store, and how they could help you boost conversions and drive sales, will help you make an informed decision about the retail technologies that can put you ahead of your competitors. To get started, book a consultation with the experts at KSF Global.
What’s the future of technology in retail stores?
The future is bright when it comes to technology in retail stores, and there are no signs of automation, robotics, and digital demands slowing down. Just some of the trends that we think will redefine the retail landscape include:
- Robotic shop assistants
- Drone delivery services
- Deeply immersive AR/XR experiences
- Virtual try-on options
- Interactive changing rooms
With tech at the helm, it’s not just the in-store customer experience that will be enhanced. One of the most exciting new opportunities for retailers is using VR to map out their spaces without having to physically change the design. It’s a great way to test layouts and gauge what works for customers without having to close the doors.
Get started with your new retail technology solution today.