Change is nothing new for the retail industry, but under the greater influence of various e-commerce platforms, retailers find it difficult to compete with online merchants as Amazon. For that reason, they watch out for further possibilities to avoid a customer fleeing away from physical stores towards online shopping platforms. This blog is about technologies and management solutions that will enable them to tackle today’s challenges and improve the customer experience in retail stores significantly within the next years.
- Augmented Reality
Many experts agree that physical stores need an upgrade to give people a reason to visit their stores. In order to meet the customer demands, in-store technology is required and there are signs that AR will be leveraged in stores and could figure prominently in omnichannel shopping and store operations. Walmart Labs, to name one example, developed an AR-based product comparison scanner for its mobile app that can be used in-store to scan entire shelf sections to compare product details, rather than using a barcode scanner to look up products one at a time.
- In-store experiences
In addition to the AR, retailers make use of other actions as well. Most customers make the effort to head to retail shops because of the experience they get. To be able to offer this unforgettable shopping journey, more and more retailers convert retail spaces to experience centres. H&M opened their first UK café at brand’s Westfield White City store in 2018. The Swedish fashion retailer is therefore responding to the expectations of customers in retailers to be more than just shopping centres. The future will show to what extend that actually occurs, but currently there is a clear trend to upgrades of physical stores.
- Seamless payments
The above-mentioned customer experience does not end at the checkout, as a clear trend is showing that people want to use their smartphones in-store. Apple Pay, to name another example, has dominated the UK market, yet worldwide it ranks fourth behind WeChat Pay, Alipay and PayPal. Even the idea of paying for goods at the till may soon feel archaic when apps like Amazon Go and SmartShop at Sainsbury’s are rolled out further. The current significance of new payment options in physical stores becomes particularly obvious from discussions with experts. The Retail EXPO 2019 in London even had a separate payment stage to discuss possibilities to provide a more seamless check-out process.
These are transformative and exciting times for the deployment of mobile technology in retailing. With demand and margins under so much pressure, the greatest challenge for decision-makers over mobile technology is when and in what to invest. In this world of uncertainty, one thing is inevitable: Future life will involve endless series of technological upgrades, released at ever accelerating rates of speed. Standing still is not an option.