2nd November 2020
Mobile technologies and interactive tools have transformed the current marketplace into a digital ecosystem enabling customers to shop smartly and gain knowledge about the products and make smart choices in their buying decisions. Internet is used in almost all aspects of life. Businesses need to evolve and utilize the new information technologies such as broadband, internet and mobile communication in order to transform their business models and sustain their competitive advantage. The question arises ‘how to utilize these technologies in the most cost effective and efficient manner to create innovative opportunities for transforming physical operations into digital’.
The changing nature of retail means tech leaders have a unique opportunity to architect a new tech-fueled, customer-centered shopping experience. “The role of the CIO or the technology architect today is actually one of innovation,”. “And it’s both innovation in terms of technology deployment but also innovation in what that role is in defining the future of retail, or anything for that matter”
The following list of technologies can be used to transform physical operations into digitalized smart solutions for organizations.
Digital marketing is one of the fastest growing sectors and leverages new technologies such as emails, mobile and social media, digitalized advertisements, virtual storytelling, etc. It allows companies to develop their brand image and awareness and improve their market strategy to attract and retain a greater number of customers.
Big data and data analytics have revolutionized management and decision-making strategies of organizations. Data analytics can help organizations analyze the large customer data in order to understand customer behavior and patterns and to uncover hidden information and predict future market decisions.
Omnichannel model is used by number of organizations to integrate their physical networks with the online channels in order to provide a seamless and unified experience to their customers. Omnichannel retail can help organizations improve their supply chain at various levels such as business partnership, customer service or acquisition.
AI utilizes technologies such as Internet of Things for gathering quality data to fulfil specific business cases . AI can utilize deep learning algorithms to classify images in order to augment shopping experience. Moreover, these technologies allow customers to take pictures of a product from any place and use the images to directly search and purchase products in store or online. Also, AI helps in real time inventory management, learning customer’s shopping preferences and provide personalized recommendations to the customers.
Voice activated technologies has enabled users with smart shopping options as users can easily search or shop an item by instructing the smart device through voice input. Google home, Siri etc, are common examples of this. Moreover, voice activated devices are widely used by in-store employees to enable quick and easy communication across the store.
Augmented reality provides customers interactive shopping experience. People can use their smart devices in order to experience multisensory shopping environment. Virtual clothe fitting, try cosmetic items, etc. are some of the widely observed examples of augmented reality digitalized stores can offer.
Virtual reality is somewhat similar to augmented reality where the difference is mainly the use case, as VR is majorly used in the business side of the retail industry. Virtual reality technology provide computer aided and allows users to engage with a virtual environment via various senses such as vision, hearing and even proprioceptor experience (360 vision, feeling of falling, moving etc). Physical stores can utilize virtual reality for store building without implementing any physical changes. Different store layouts and designs can be experimented before implementation, and even the stores can allow customers to use smart devices to experience an interactive shopping environment.
Sensor data is another revolutionizing technology used by companies to digitalize in-store experience. One popular example is use of beacons which can be installed across the store to connect customer’s smartphones with the mobile application via Bluetooth. Information can be gathered in form of customer’s shopping cart data, time spent in store, etc. and stores can offer personalized shopping experience and discounts to the customers based on this data. Another example is use of RFID tags which can help users get detailed information about various products by simply toughing their smartphones or using GPS data to track items in a supply chain.
Facial recognition and movement detection through computer aided cameras and computer vision enable stores to identify customer demographics, understand shopping behavior and use this data to provide personalized recommendations, prevent shop lifting. Having a better knowledge of customer behavior allows companies to modify store layouts in best ergonomic designs according to customers’ preferences. The best example of this is implementation of ‘just walk-in technology’ by amazon go.
Inventory tracking, stock availability, shipping details, and orders are all moving to the cloud. With cloud computing, retailers can cut the cost of software development and process data at a much faster rate.
Despite the technological advancement of online shopping, physical stores would continue to attract customers. The best way to improve the customer shopping experience in store is by blending the modern technologies with the traditional processes. In order to be successful, these organizations must provide a seamless integration of the new technologies to maintain a right balance between automation and human activities. Utilizing these new technologies will open new doors to opportunities for the in store shopping experience.
26th October 2020
By Michaela Agius