Retail Tech – What 2020 will bring new?

When you think about everything that consumers are asking for and combine it with advances in technology, it’s easy to see how 2020 represents an inflection point for trust and transparency, so that successful manufacturers and retailers will have leverage tools like AR, Spatial Web, and AI in ways that put consumer demands and concerns ahead of their own or else they’ll fail to ring in the New Year when late December rolls around.

As we all know economic slowdown creates a wound in sales and the Indian market is expected to increase the sales in 2020 on the back of improving customer demand and increase spending. Retailers and manufacturers are all set to take pleasure in this situation, and are also going to increase their numbers in annual profit. 

As technology continues to emerge and redefine, the retailers are fighting for every visit of customers to their physical and digital stores. Before getting into this year’s trends, I want to recall the hits of 2019. Starting with footfall counter, digital or robotic assistance, virtual trial rooms, chatbots, face recognition, demographic analysis, beacons cashless checkout, holograms and many more. While there are some necessary improvements which have to be made in omnichannel retail and there is still some work to do with all above these. These technologies are still bubbling and will likely evolve in the subsequent year. For 2020, I see some more significant trends moving the industry forward. 

Augmented and Virtual Reality Will Have More Extensive Use

Augmented and virtual reality aren’t just for gamers anymore, retailers have been improving with the technology in recent years. Stores have been using AR to help online customers find everything from clothes to furniture. The technology can allow users to see if the furniture will fit in their living or bedrooms or how clothes would look on. AR and VR can even let shoppers see what makeup will look like on their faces before making a purchase.

We recently saw Toyota launch a new AR program that allows users to try out 10 of their cars without ever picking up the keys. The coolest part is that they’ll do this without requiring users to download a specific app to their mobile device. Instead, the AR experience will be delivered at scale through digital media. For example, users can simply click a banner ad on a social media page, and Toyota’s AR experience will launch.

From our point of view, consumers don’t have to download an app to try the experience, something that can be a huge discouragement for those on downloading apps just to see if they’re worth downloading

Toyota is not the only company using this feature. Companies like Target, Lowe’s and Amazon have found that augmented reality may be especially helpful in decreasing the number of returns they see from online shoppers.

Augmented reality could mean retailers to keep increasing numbers in sales because consumers fully understand what they’re buying at the point of purchase. Technology in this area is also catching up as companies like Microsoft launch the second generation augmented reality headsets, which is one of many newer, lighter headsets and wearables that will make AR more immersive for retail customers and employees.

Social Shopping 

Customers love seamless experience and in digital transformation, they expect more. That’s why social shopping is going to skyrocket. Social shopping essentially combines online shopping with social media networking technologies to augment the user’s real-life shopping experiences. Generally, social shopping has different forms that vary between vendors. For example, a social shopping website might encourage users to buy in groups in order to take advantage of bulk discounts. Or a product recommendation website might track and display a friend’s purchase. Finally, there are even cranny shopping communities and C2C marketplaces that allow users to buy things directly from friends or other consumers. Social shopping also enables a user to gain recommendations about what to purchase from peers, which can greatly influence purchasing decisions.

From a platform standpoint, Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest have helped guide social shopping, but I also see more and more integration opportunities for bigger retail platforms both brick and mortar and virtual. For instance, I can imagine Stitch Fix expanding social platform usage as a way to better tailor the wardrobes it sends to customers using machine learning. Perhaps existing members can see the outfits on real customers and click on an entire or portion of an outfit to have it included in a future delivery. I can also see tools that allow a photo of a garment to be used to pair and recommend additional items being tied to a social profile that can look at existing clothes and accessories shared and written about positively on a public platform. 

Expansion of Data Collection and Analytics 

The retail industry continues to accelerate and with it, the need for business is to find the best retail use cases for big data. Let’s just face it big data is everywhere or in every industry. The concern of the collection of information, data is a hot topic in every store or boardroom. Retail is one industry that particularly stands to augment from data collection as companies look to learn all they can about their customers’ needs and preferences. 

When all of this data is aggregated and analyzed together, it can generate insights you never had before, for example, who are your high-value customers, what motivates them to buy more, how do they behave, and how and when is it best to reach them? Armed with these insights, you can improve customer acquisition and drive customer loyalty. Retailers have been able to expand their collection of data through both point of sale and website cookies, and we are expecting that to expand in 2020 as more companies take advantage of the Internet of Things to learn more about the consumers they’re trying to attract in. They also need tools like customer relationship management systems to keep it all straight, but they’ll also need to be able to analyze and visualize all that information. Platforms such as Power BI and Tableau can help retail chain stores or organizations understand the information they’re collecting so they can optimize or increase profit

Payment Flexibility Will Continue To Be Supreme 

Payment plays a crucial role in the overall customer experience, while cash and credit or debit cards won’t go anytime soon. Customer-focused on bill payments experience can help businesses get paid faster, reduce the risk of bad debt, and adapt quickly to changing customer expectations. 

It would be great for shoppers to have many possible ways to pay, also it’s unrealistic for the retailers cater for all forms of payment for all types of customers. The popularity of those services varies widely among different business types and different countries, so you may find that if you trade internationally, or open up new channels in different markets, it’s important to understand local preferences as there are often significant differences.

Mobile payments will gain more stream, as will “buy now, pay later” solution. Retail finance, instant credit, buy now – pay later or ‘Bill me later’ services like Klarna, Deko Pay, V12 or PayPal Credit offer shoppers, as the name suggests, the ability to buy items immediately but pay for them later. They offer flexibility and convenience to the user but also pose no jeopardy for the retailers, with any risk taken by the credit provider. 

The Mix of Reality and Virtual On The Spatial Web 

Even beyond augmented reality, we’re going to see an increasingly confusing mix of virtual and reality in the coming year, especially in retail via the spatial web. And I’m not just talking about virtual changing rooms or virtual racks. I’m talking about users being able to place themselves in their favorite brand’s advertisements, being able to model their favorite brand’s clothing and increasing the coordination of virtual experiences that will intertwine on the spatial web. For instance, a newly engaged woman may try on her wedding gown virtually, and see herself walking through one of many possible wedding locations. A man who recently purchased a car can try on new gear and see how it feels on the car he’s just purchased. We may even see people paying for these virtual experiences, which makes the ideas of “retail” and “reality” themselves even more confusing. 

Retail is brutal, and competition is everywhere. By incorporating the above suggestions, you won’t have to worry about how to stay relevant when it comes to retail in 2020.

The new technologies and strategies when used effectively may be enough to win a bigger piece of the retail pie. 

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