Each Thursday the team from Advancing Retail hosts Coffee with CART, a discussion of how technology is impacting retailers. While retail has always been challenged to keep up with consumer demands the pace at which technology is changing is evolving those demands faster than ever before. Retailers need to stay current on which technologies can help them provide the best experience with the least disruption to their business. On the April 28th Coffee with CART Advancing Retail introduced their Quarterly Report, an overview of the most impactful issues for the retail community. They focused their findings on:
Virtual reality, while still closely tied to gaming, has the potential to reach into retail with lower cost systems leveraging consumers’ smartphones. Coupled with eCommerce, virtual reality has the ability to transform the shopping experience while keeping the familiar aisle format. Shoppers may be able to ‘walk’ the aisle of their store while sitting home on their couch. Augmented reality has just as much transformative power, while still relying on an in-store experience. Augmented reality would allow consumers to ‘view’ additional layers of information through their smartphone lense. Physical shelf tags can give way to digital tags on products which can be more easily updated and provide a greater depth of information which today’s consumers desire.
Internet of Things
The connectivity that comes with the Internet of Things (IoT) is poised to make retailers operations easier while also creating ways to consume outside of the store. Connected systems in display cases, customer flow, and customer messaging can allow stores to not only operate more efficiently but also create a robust data set to continually improve all aspects of performance. Creating better, more consistent experiences for customers will become increasingly important as brick and mortar retailers begin to compete with the Internet of Things in consumers homes. Connected homes allow consumers to operate their homes more efficiently and part of that is restocking essential items. Amazon’s Dash Buttons allow consumers to order products at the push of a button, never having to enter the a store for their household items. As the number of items available for this type of ordering proliferates stores will have to work harder to keep consumers engaged and baskets growing.
Advancing Retail identified their top five areas of retailer interest for Q1.
While there is no doubt online shopping will be a crucial element to brick and mortar retailers’ future. However, rather than rushing to implement a ‘good enough’ solution retailers are collectively taking a breath to understand the right way to bring this technology to their consumers. The right solution will take into account POS integration, operations support, security, and accessibility via mobile.
Marketing & Merchandising
Technology advancement has given retailers the ability to know each customer better than ever before with the rich data set available through loyalty programs. Knowing consumers makes it easier for retailers to create meaningful, personalized offers for their customer base. Layering purchase behavior with financial segments can help retailers and manufacturers understand who is driving their business and how to better meet their needs.
As mobile continues to transform marketing, shopping, and operations it is clear retailers need to view an app as a strategic part of their operations. Having a strategic, white-label app helps consumers find value in using it. Apps and smartphones will also aid in the adoption of self-shop technologies where consumers ‘checkout’ as they move through the store. This will create a shift in equipment and staffing priorities for retailers.
Operations and Equipment
Technology is changing every aspect of store operations from workforce management to equipment operations, POS systems, and analytics. Retailers can manage people, spaces, and promotions with not only more efficiency but also with greater knowledge than ever before. Similarly advancements in heating and cooling, lighting, and communication solutions are making it more energy, and thus cost efficient, to operate stores. Many retailers are also leveraging technology to create value-adds to their customers such as in-store wifi.
You can access the full Quarterly Report from Advancing Retail HERE.