Tech Trends in 2021 That Are Reshaping Retail
Online retail had always been on the rise since it first arrived on the scene. The year 2020, though, catapulted it to new extremes, thanks to shelter-in-place orders that made in-person transactions impossible.
In 2021, as we navigate the future of retail, it is important to look at technology trends that are directing its growth. If you are a tech firm with retail as its major client or a tech enterprise solution looking to invest in new markets, here are 5 trends that help you see how tech is writing the future of retail.
- Emotion AI
Marketers have always known the influential role of emotions when it came to retail. That’s why graphic designers use emotions to create logo designs, ad agencies use them in ad campaigns, and even investors check in with their sentiments when deciding if a venture is worth it.
But the newest technology of emotion AI is taking this fever up a notch. Recent strides in emotion AI have made it possible for retails to use sensors and cameras to record and analyze customers’ facial expressions and cues to determine how they are responding to various components of a product.
This data is then used to make important business decisions. Are the customers frowning at the label? Review and change it. Do they feel happy seeing a particular product on shelves? Let’s stock more of it. Do they feel confused about packaging? Time to make it clearer.
Emotion AI systems are helping retail operations become more data-centered so the decision-making is more focused and pragmatic.
- Progressive Web Apps
According to figures posted by Statista, 43% of online shoppers from across the world use social media networks when researching products online. At this critical juncture of the purchase journey, it’s important for retailers to ensure that customers face no hurdles and can move from here to check out in a frictionless, satisfying manner.
Progressive Web Apps allow this to happen. These web apps are websites that open within browsers and do not require customers to download separate apps or software. They are easy to load, cost-effective, and create a seamless sales funnel.
Since PWAs are easier to develop than native apps, more and more companies are investing in them to provide their customers easy access to their inventory.
Robots are revolutionizing the way we shop. From inventory to customer services and from slotting to personalized recommendations, more and more retails are using robotics along with machine learning and artificial intelligence to automate and improve logistics, supply chain, and store operations.
What’s more, customers also seem excited at the prospect of dealing with robots. According to a 2018 study that was released in 2019, US consumers were asked how would they feel if they arrived at a store and a robot was there to guide them to specific products within store aisles upon request. Over 48% of customers considered the prospect cool.
And retailers listened.
Lowe’s, Best Buy, and Domino’s are a few major brands that are using robotics to improve their customer services, management of the store, and delivery operations, respectively.
- AR- and VR-Driven Operations
A couple of more next-gen technologies that are actively reshaping the world of retail are augmented reality and virtual reality.
Augmented Reality: augmented reality is an enhanced version of the real world. The technology allows you to experience the world around you in a more interactive way by adding digital elements to your live environment.
Example: IKEA Place app allows customers to select items from the store and see how they’ll look in various places around their house.
Virtual Reality: virtual reality creates immersive experiences. Unlike AR, it does not ‘enhance’ your current reality but kind of suspends it. It creates simulated experiences that you can interact with using specialized electronic tools such as VR glasses.
Example: One Aldwych, a hotel in London, takes guests on a VR tour of Scotland where the hotel’s newest addition in the menu, Origin (a whisky cocktail) is brewed.
- Digital Wallets
Digital wallets or e-payment solutions are online payment methods that retail customers use to pay for their purchases online. In 2020, the total value of mobile payment solutions rose to $1 trillion from $368.6 billion in 2017. That’s an increase of175%. This velocity is projected to continue and gain an even higher pace.
In China, more than a billion people reported using mobile payment solutions in 2019. In the USA, 140 million customers used Apply Pay for their online purchases while 51 million used Samsung Pay and 39million used Google Pay. By all estimates, these numbers are only going to rise and achieve new heights by 2023 and beyond.
What Is Your Next Step?
Whether you are running a retail business or operate a tech enterprise, knowing the technology that will take the driving seat for retail’s multibillion dollar industry is essential if you want to grow and succeed. Whether you choose to invest in mobile POS, in VR/AR, or robotics, make sure your decision aligns with your company’s character and future goals and offers you room for maneuver if the situation calls for it.