Technology changes how consumers decide what, when and how to purchase goods and in an age when technology is going through innovation at an exponential rate, it can be difficult for stores large and small to decide where to invest their resources and how to respond to changes in technology. Here are six innovative technology trends to look out for in the near future.
1. Analytics goes deep and not wide.
Analytics have been used as a surface-level technology for far too long. Any convenience store owner can install a camera and a DVR to prevent theft and mismanagement. But truly forward-thinking companies are strategizing how they can use data and analytics to improve the sales performance of their companies and understand their customers better.
In a recent online roundtable, Janet Schijns, vice president of global, vertical and channel marketing with Verizon Enterprise Solutions said, “Retailers are going to have to balance the need for data that matters at the minute and that matters for managing risk and then really dig down on those deep data analytics to enable personalization of the customer shopping experience.”
2. Beacons will walk customers through stores.
Beacons are low-energy devices that detect and communicate with mobile devices and apps via Bluetooth signals and are poised to give major retailers a better way to engage with in-store shoppers—Target and Macy’s have already started experimenting with the new technology during the last holiday shopping seasons. These innovative, experiential technologies will allow stores to greet customers by name, share special deals, make personalized shopping recommendations and provide real-time indoor mapping. Business Insider recently reported that their experts expect beacons to directly influence over four billion dollars in retail sales in the United States this year alone.
3. New payment platforms will become commonplace.
Not all retailers were on board when Apple launched Apple Pay as a complementary service to their popular line of mobile technology. But the numbers tell us that mobile commerce is accelerating the growth and acceptability of new and improved payment solutions. As customers become more comfortable with innovative payment options, they are more likely to use them out in the world.
4. 3D printing will bring products to life.
3D printing, which once seemed like a clever fad, is slowly making its way into the retail world. With customization being a vital key to engaging modern consumers, what better way for consumer brands and retailers to deliver a customized, personal shopping experience? From Target offering customized jewelry design kiosks to personalized toys, 3d printing is still on the cusp of finding its way into the mainstream retail experience in ways that haven’t been imagined yet.
5. Wearable technology will find new applications.
“Wearable technology” is very hot right now and encompasses fitness monitors, activity trackers and smart clothing but retailers are most focused on smart watches like Apple’s new accessory and interactive glasses, like Google Glass, because they present innovative opportunities for customer engagement. According to a recent feature in Forbes magazine, 71 percent of 16-to-24-year-old consumers want wearable tech.
6. Virtual reality will impact retail sales.
The reality is that augmented reality technology is already alive and well in retail operations. From IKEA’s augmented reality app to Topshop’s virtual dressing rooms, merchants are finding new and innovative ways to use augmented reality technology to draw attention and improve the customer experience. You can rest assured that these experiments in retail technology will continue through 2015 and beyond.