New technologies and innovative trends in phygital retailing
Especially since the coronavirus pandemic, new technologies in the retail sector are transforming, and will further transform, customers’ shopping experiences, changing the effectiveness of workers and the operation of shops and shops in the coming years.
This is the main conclusion of the latest report from the company specialised in intelligent data capture for retail Scandit.
The report confirms that consumer expectations have changed. Accustomed to fast and convenient online shopping, shoppers are looking to bring that same experience to the shop, accompanied by good customer service, personalised and often very transgressive with respect to what retail was like just a few years ago.
In this sense, the study points out that the adaptation to new technologies, such as artificial intelligence, the use of drones and apps for shop management, are a necessity aimed at offering a differentiated and innovative proposal, a unique customer experience, and a step towards the future of retail in the world.
Thus, the main trends and challenges facing the industry in the short term, according to the assessments of industry leaders in the report, are as follows.
Empowering staff for effective customer interaction
One of the biggest challenges is employee training.
Without going any further, workers equipped with multifunctional clienteling applications are not only relieved of basic, time-consuming tasks, but also have permanent access to key information such as stock, product details, customer data and information on upselling and cross-selling.
53% of retailers say their customer service applications increase loyalty, and while 91% of those using mobile point of sale have seen a decrease in abandonment, increased sales and improved in-store staff mobility.
App and smart devices to access real-time data
Having too many technology purchasing options is a huge challenge with today’s shop operations technology. In addition, among the potential challenges retailers see in technology and its implementation, 68% indicate integration with existing systems as their biggest concern.
To achieve omni-channel, it is crucial to select the right tools for each type of retailer. Today, there are smart applications driven by data capture that run on a single smart device. These devices are familiar and convenient for workers, so training needs are low and they allow employees to multitask, such as accessing real-time data, supporting critical operations, stock management, as well as performing consumer-facing tasks.
From physical space to a place of experience
Turning physical spaces into places where experiences are more complete than just walking into a shop and looking for products. This trend is forcing brands to rely on technology to meet user demands.
In this way, shops are evolving towards spaces that include sensorial experiences and where shopping is fused with entertainment, design and technology. Undoubtedly, a very suggestive mix that becomes a powerful marketing tool to connect with customers.
As a result, shops are emerging with robotic installations in search of unique experiences and the possibility of incorporating the so-called Non Fungible Tokens (unique and exclusive digital assets, NTF) into physical spaces.
Immersive technologies such as Augmented Reality
Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality are once again on the scene as the foundation for change in the retail industry.
While AR allows virtual elements to be superimposed on their physical environment, VR helps potential customers to “live” an experience thanks to a viewer, allowing the customer to try a product as if they were in a shop, being able to enjoy this experience in the same shop or from home.
Big Data at the point of sale
Thanks to algorithms, artificial intelligence and big data, retailers can collect and retrieve huge amounts of useful data for the shop, such as the flow of customers at certain times or dates in the month. And with historical information from each shop, trends can also be established.
All of this allows for more efficient facility management. Thus, according to the UK’s Next generation in-store technology: Where do shoppers and retailers stand? report, 30% of retail is using facial recognition technology. It is expected that in the future, these analyses could be performed in real time, predicting shopper behaviour throughout the entire shopping experience, across channels.
Robots and drones in retail
While only 8% of respondents believe that shop operations technology will evolve towards the use of drones and robots, this trend may increase in the coming years. And 31% even see these automated tools as a primary element in fulfilling omni-channel tasks.
The use of these devices to perform certain tasks has become a reality, and it is not difficult to imagine that they could become the industry’s main allies. Whether they are service robots, humanoids or drones with artificial intelligence (AI), they can carry out functions such as: inventories with accurate stock data, customer advice in the physical shop or virtually, identification of products in poor condition or deliveries in record time.
For example, the company Caper AI developed a smart shopping cart that assists the customer in the supermarket shopping process by indicating which products are on offer, mapping the space and with the added bonus that each customer can process payment directly in the cart itself. In fact, supermarkets using Caper’s smart shopping trolleys have seen customers increase their purchase per shop visit by 18%.
Hybrid & phygital service
Unifying the offline and online experiences, moving towards the phygital concept, is something that is the order of the day and something we have been talking about at length at CAAD.
Thus, the challenge is to incorporate the immediacy offered by the digital world or the immersion that is now possible in the virtual world with the characteristic interaction of the physical space.
All of this, so that the sector manages to implement the phygital effect. To this end, and thanks to technology, there are already shops that allow the traceability of products from their origin through blockchain technology, have robotic shopping carts that automatically scan the products that are included in the basket or create virtual avatars to digitally try on clothes, thus reducing returns.
1 out of 5 retailers surveyed by Scandit considers that traditional shops will only become showrooms for brands, but the reality is that they will continue to play a leading role, providing the immediate satisfaction of obtaining products on the spot.
In this regard, 41% of retail leaders stated that technology will especially enhance the customer experience, while 36% believe that the core future of shop operations technology lies in combining online and offline experiences, so that users can go from online to physical shop and back again with the assurance of complete satisfaction. This is known as hybrid care.
Thus, in the medium term, 51% see physical shops as a hybrid of online and offline shopping; 18% of respondents believe that in the future, shops will only be interactive brand experience centres and will function as a back-up to the e-commerce channel.