Technology is Changing Retail

It’s a continual process, as new technologies emerge, industries are impacted and as a result, begin to implement changes to their old processes and procedures. A huge shift that we are just starting to see is how technology is changing retail.  A few years ago retailers starting adding wifi networks to their stores, then some started replacing their point-of-sale systems with tablet-based POS systems, which are beneficial changes, but they were being used as new tools in the old retail environment. Now, and in the future, retailers are starting to think bigger. Retailers are beginning to realize that these new technologies offer them the opportunity to completely change the retail experience for customers. Instead of fitting new tools in the old way of doing things, retailers who want to compete with the likes of Amazon, Ebay, etc. are using technology to completely change how consumers interact with the retail environment.

Some of the biggest changes to the retail store are stemming from the emergence of new mobile technologies. Forbes recently released an article with their 5 tech trends for retail whereby almost all of the trends revolve around new mobile technologies like ibeacon and using mobile apps in-store. Today’s consumers are using mobile technologies in store to access discounts and coupons, review product information, pay for their purchases, etc. These trends are only going to continue to evolve. The ever changing retail experience will look very different in just a few years from now.

mobile technology changing retail experiencePicture walking into your favorite retail store while a hologram sales concierge is projected from a mobile device greets you and provides you with the latest sale information. As you enter the store your mobile device buzzes and the store’s mobile app opens on your phone. It provides you with a clue to finding a new product that you might be interested in based on your previous purchases and entices you to compete in a small scavenger hunt to find the new product. As you figure out the first clue and head to the area of the store you think the clue is taking you an iPad armed with a sonar-like sensor can tell that you’re approaching and on the screen a short video begins to play offering up your second clue. Eventually you find the new product and you love it. You cannot find your size, so you use the store’s mobile app to check the inventory in the back of the store and find out that they do in fact have your size. You select the product, pay for it with your fingerprint, and as you’re leaving the store the product is bagged up and waiting for you at the door. Oh, and you saved 15% on your purchase for competing in the scavenger hunt and answering a short survey question during your search. As you leave you use the store’s mobile app to create images of yourself wearing/using the new product and post those pictures to your favorite social media sites for all of your friends to see.

Hold onto your hats folks… technology is changing retail, get on board or watch your brand fade into the tales of retailers past, stories that future consumer can only laugh at while listening to their parents talk about the way things used to be.