The past decade took retail through an entire wave of changes, as the digital capabilities of some of the most important players reached new levels, thus influencing others to follow. Whether we’re talking about areas like Social, Mobility, Analytics or Cloud, they have all contributed to strongly reshaping the future of retail as we know it.
And retailers aren’t planning to stop here.
They are seizing the moment and becoming more and more relevant, or even indispensable, we’d say, to consumers. How? By changing the shopping experience and using new technologies to meet people exactly where they are.
A report from Accenture reveals that we are now entering an era where Distributed Ledger, AI, Extended Reality and Quantum Computing (or DARQ) technologies represent just the beginning of a big change. And using them to deliver new experiences is a game changer in retail.
"A report from Accenture reveals that we are now entering an era where Distributed Ledger, AI, Extended Reality and Quantum Computing (or DARQ) technologies represent just the beginning of a big change."
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But still, which technologies are most appropriate for brick-and-mortar stores and how are they posed to change the future of retail?
Let’s find out.
1. Augmented Reality
It’s been a while since we’ve first heard about AR advertising campaigns that will completely change the way we shop, and it appears that the revolution has already begun.
A lot of retailers have already integrated this technology - through apps, in most cases - in order to deliver a better shopping experience.
Better known examples come from the entertainment and gaming industries, but the use of AR is not limited to this. Coca-Cola used it in a campaign in collaboration with WWF at the Science Museum in London.
Augmented reality can also be used to see how a product you’re planning to buy, in-store or online, will fit into your life. And this is huge, as it can help you pick exactly what you need.
2. Just Walk Out Shopping
A concept recently introduced by Amazon, it can be described with just a few words: no lines, no checkout.
Customers enter the store by scanning their phone, grab the items they need and then leave. Eventually, they receive the receipt on their smartphones and pay online for everything. As simple as that.
And, at the same time, very complex.
This technology revolves around sensors and computer vision, thus easily identifying everything a customer picks from a store, and it could be a hint at how the future of retail could look like.
3. Face-based buying
Ok, so stores with no checkout points are cool but what if we told you that a system in which you don’t even need your phone to pay was already unveiled?
A KFC location in Hangzhou, China, recently introduced a face-based payment system.
In order to use it, everything you need to do is look at an in-store kiosk which, through facial-recognition technology will identify you and automatically process the payment, through Alibaba’s Ant Financial unit.
Obviously, if this idea turns out to be feasible, it could be easily implemented in retail, allowing people to pay for their weekly groceries just by simply gazing into a screen and then walking away
4. Products talking to each other
This may sound like something that belongs in the year 2050, at least, but it’s actually a feature Tokinomo already offers.
It consists of syncing two devices and creating a real-time dialogue between products, thus adding a whole new twist to in-store marketing. Just imagine having complementary products talking to each other on the shelves of a store, immediately catching customers’ eye.
Beer and chips exchanging a few words, cereal and milk confessing how they cannot live without the other or toothbrush and toothpaste talking about the perfect match they make are just a few of the combinations Tokinomo’s Dialogue feature can be used for.
In the end, it’s just about how creative brands can be.
There’s no doubt that technology and retail go hand in hand and the result of this… relationship is a significant boost in sales.
Gone are the days when retailers were relying just on traditional methods of promoting their stores and attracting customers. Technology is evolving faster than we can imagine and there’s just one thing we can do: embrace it.
Just by fully understanding how innovation can change the future of retail and combining it with a strategy of getting inside the buyer’s mind, can you take full advantage of the competitive advantage it can add to your business.