Technology has improved the retail experience light years over the last several decades. Our great-grandparents would marvel at computerized inventory systems, barcode scanners, mobile pay and other innovations. Disruptive technology continues to emerge, and there are new technologies being adopted right now that are changing the way we shop.
Beacons are wireless transmitters that retailers use to send personalized signals to shoppers. People who come within range of the beacon and who have the store’s mobile app will be notified of sales and exclusive deals directly on their phones. Beacons can also be used to help direct shoppers around the store and help them to find what they want.
Retailers can collect a host of data from customers who engage with beacon technology. They can see how much time a shopper spent in the store, the route they took throughout the store, where they spent the most time, whether they responded to beacon messaging and deals, and how they interacted with in-store beacon-enabled displays.
Facial recognition technology has been normalized over the last year thanks to the Apple iPhone X. What was once a scary, sci-fi fiction is now a part of our everyday lives. Retailers hope to use facial recognition to identify shoppers when they walk into the store. From there, they can provide them with personalized offers on their smartphone and personalized attention from the staff, thanks to data delivered to associates about a customer’s unique preferences and shopping history.
Retailers also want to use facial recognition technology to identify emotions for better customer service. If a shopper begins to get frustrated, for example, the technology can alert an associate to come help immediately to ease that frustration and provide assistance. Like beacon technology, facial recognition can also be used to track shoppers’ behaviors as they move through the store and collect data on purchases.
Americans are becoming more comfortable with robots and digital assistants thanks to Alexa from Amazon, Siri from Apple and the Google Assistant. People who own a device with a digital assistant rely on them to add items to their schedule, purchase products, find content, answer questions and even control electronics in their homes.
Retail wants to leverage this type of technology in-store to improve the shopping experience. Robot shopping assistants can answer questions about products, help shoppers locate products at other store locations, place orders for out-of-stock items and more. If a robot can’t help the customer, it can send a signal to a human associate to come and provide assistance to that shopper.
Smart Display Mirrors
Mirrors are becoming much more than reflective pieces of glass. Smart display mirrors leverage artificial intelligence, virtual reality and augmented reality to superimpose clothing and makeup onto the reflection. This technology would eliminate the need to try on clothes in a fitting room, allowing shoppers to try on multiple sizes, colors and looks – even out-of-stock items – without leaving the sales floor.
Even with smart mirrors on the sales floor, trying on clothes is a must for many people and smart dressing room mirrors can improve that experience by scanning the items brought into the fitting room and can alert sales associates if the shopper needs a different size, color or fit.
Self-service checkouts have existed for years, but the technology is now entering the next level. Soon, cashier-less technology will become normal. Items you want to buy will be scanned automatically as you exit the store, and your credit card will be charged immediately.
This technology was put on full display with the launch of the Amazon Go store, a convenience store without cashiers. They call the technology “Just Walk Out Shopping.” Customers with the store app on their phone and a connected credit or debit card are charged for all items they take with them out the door. It speeds up the shopping experience and allows for a level of convenience anyone who has ever waited in a long checkout line has dreamed about.
Are You Ready For the Future of Shopping?
Many of these technologies are still emerging, but every day they become more accessible and more affordable. Retailers looking to continually improve their customer experience should consider dipping their toes in today, so they can lead from the front, rather than follow from behind.