The past year has been a game changer for the way businesses operate in the realm of retail. Brick-and-mortar stores are increasingly using technology to unlock opportunities and deliver seamless shopping experiences. But, with disruptive innovation holding a strong footprint in the market, retailers need to concentrate their efforts on creating a path to purchase that responds to customers’ demands by integrating innovative in-store technology.
Inspired by an article on The Washington Post website entitled “5 ways the future of retail is already here,” below you will find my list of top three technologies reshaping the retail world …
Robotic Shopping Carts
Cinemagoers have long been fascinated by fictional robots, but they’re not usually realistic … until now. Thanks to technological advancements, Five Elements Robotics was able to launch the Dash Robotic Shopping Cart – an automated cart that allows customers to import their shopping list and navigate them through the store. Designed with convenience in mind, shoppers can avoid queues with the available onboard checkout system using a credit card, Apple Pay or Google Wallet. And if you still feeling lazy, once you’ve uploaded your groceries, Dash will automatically find its way back to the store. Dash has also been programmed to learn shopping habits and display targeted ads based on purchase data. A game changer for the retail world, says CEO Wendy Roberts from Five Elements Robotics, “The Dash Robotic Shopping cart will absolutely transform the way we do shopping. Once these robots are in the stores, we will not be able to imagine how we ever shopped without them.” Watch this space, because big retail names such as Walmart are set to roll out these robotic shopping carts in 2018.
Dynamic In-Store Pricing
Ever been shopping online to find the item you are about to purchase has just dropped in price within a matter of seconds? Great news, that same sensibility is making its way to the physical store. Instead of having prices dependent only on supply, demand and potentially location, dynamic pricing relies on advanced analytics on the product and, more importantly, the customer, to determine the optimal price for store managers. According to Crealytics, “Dynamic pricing is an e-commerce and retail strategy that applies variable pricing instead of the more typical fixed pricing. As more data is analyzed, optimal prices for goods or services are recalculated. The time between price changes depends upon the business and item, but can be as often as every day or even every hour.”
Retailers can now make extensive changes to thousands of in-store prices with the click of a button. For example, if a particular store is down to four bottles of orange juice, a store manager could raise prices until the next shipment arrives. Or, if there is an excess of bread rolls, store owners could create a flash sale to reduce wastage and drive sales.
3D Foot Scanners
Do you know what your exact shoe size is? Chances are that you don’t, you simply know a number that you usually give to a salesperson and hope that what they bring back fits. In reality, a person’s feet are not typically the exact same size and often can differ as much as a full shoe size. Not to mention the fact that shoe manufacturers, just like clothing manufacturers, have wildly inconsistent ideas of what a shoe size is supposed to be. But, the nagging frustrations of ill-fitting shoes could soon be a thing of the past thanks to technology developed by Swedish company Volumental.
Volumental offers retailers a beautifully designed hardware and software solution to 3D scan your customers’ feet and provide footwear recommendations through the AI-driven Fit Engine. The scan is then sent to the Volumenta platform to capture multiple data points, including the length, height and the ball width of the customers foot. Once the scans are taken they are immediately sent to a connected tablet, allowing the salesperson to match their customer up with a pair of shoes that is best suited to their feet. Additionally, the software can check what is in stock or if another shop has the product.
The first of the Volumental foot scanners have already be installed in several locations, including the retail giant New Balance. “Volumental’s product has created a completely new way of interacting with our customers. It brings New Balance’s unique fit story to life in a personal and relevant way for each of them. Customers love it and our staff love it,” said New Balance international retail director Jonathan Clark.
Retailers are leveraging advanced technology solutions to provide consumers with a personal, faster and easier shopping experience. “As we enter into the new year, we will see the continuation of multi-channel retailing; however, businesses will spend significantly more on both their customer experience and technology that will allow them to understand their customers in a deeper level.” explains Jake Weatherly, CEO of verification technology company SheerID.
After touching on several ways of how technology is redefining the physical store, we need to remember there are a thousand other new technologies being applied to solve real retail problems. And while, robotic shopping carts are driving automated experiences and dynamic pricing models are boosting both consumer price perception and retailer profitability, the key for all retailers will be finding the right technologies to solve their biggest friction points to improve the in-store journey.
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