Technology and the emergence of digital has transformed every industry on the planet. With a global consumer base, real-time access to information, and greater opportunities to build one-to-one consumer journeys, companies of all sizes have had to rapidly evolve to keep up with the changing times. Retail is one such industry, arguably forced to evolve faster than the rest. The advent of the web brought with it online shopping and greater availability and selection of products — traditional brick and mortar retailers could simply not compete with what online shopping could offer. Since then retailers have been forced to adapt to a savvier, more price-conscious and experience-driven consumer, less willing to accept a "take it or leave it" approach. Retailers now need to reimagine the in-store experience.
Over the last few years retailers have leveraged technology to blur the lines between digital and traditional commerce. Advances in technology, including beacons and seamless mobile platform integration, have plunged traditional retail into the deep sea of data driven shopping experiences. Now, what was once seen as "online only" will soon become staples in the brick-and-mortar shopping experience.
Let’s take a look at 10 ways technology is changing the in-store consumer experience forever:
Bait and hook: Retailers can now target people within close proximity to their store by sending messages to their store app, alerting them of special sales, promotions, and time related deals
Personal shoppers: Retailers will look to leverage beacon technology to offer highly personalized and timely content to consumers. A favorite shirt is in stock, new shoes being released, suggested accessories to try on will all be part of the new customized personal journey
Shoppable windows: Retailers can leverage high traffic areas with the growing phenomenon of shoppable windows. Equipped with large interactive screens, these virtual storefronts will allow consumers to browse and purchase from a select inventory of goods, curated specifically for the season, time of year, and location
Social sharing: Many retailers are betting on the fact that ownership will not mean as much to consumers in the future. Sharing services like Rent the Runway will become much more prominent as they promote sharing of products within the community
Social feedback: As tastemakers and fashionistas become more accessible on platforms like Pinterest, YouTube and Instagram, more and more consumers will seek their opinions on what’s hot and what’s not. Retailers will look to leverage the influence by integrating sentiment shared via social media into products available in their stores
Power to the people: Many retailers are realizing that, through their mobile phone, consumers have access to all the data they could ever want. Therefore instead of fighting the trend, merchants will enable consumers to match prices, find available stock, retrieve nutritional value and so much more by just scanning bar codes on either the purchase receipt or the product itself
Checkout 2.0: For all consumers, one of the biggest nuisances is having to wait in line to purchase (or return) your products. In response, many retailers will allow self pay options through an app or buying products online and picking up in store, bypassing the line entirely
Crowdsourced inventory: Consumers will soon be able to dictate which products get stocked at the local retailer. With increased product awareness including product origin, ingredients and labor practice, retailers want to make sure they stock items that fit within the consumer’s target price point as well as their values
Augmented Reality: How will this couch look in our living room? Do these jeans fit right? Retailers are now tapping into augmented reality to address these questions on the spot. Instead of buying and trying the couch or waiting in line for the change room, the retailer's use of augmented reality will let it out right in the store
Dynamic Pricing: To compete with online giants like Amazon and Priceline, retailers will start experimenting with dynamic pricing. The price of a product could conceivably change several times in an hour based on factors like season, weather, competitors and ultimately other items in your shopping cart.
As consumers become increasingly tech savvy, retailers that leverage technology to create personalized, curated experiences for their consumers will see tremendous results. Consumers will flock to shop at stores providing an on-par level of convenience, simplicity, and openness as they have online, with the added personal touch helping them cut through information overload and giving them confidence in their purchases. This is only possible if merchants bring the same level of smart technology into their stores as consumers have in their pockets. The retail race is on!