Top 10 Retail Technology Trends for 2019
Table of Contents:
- Facial recognition software
- Smart stores
- Self-checkout stations
- The continued rise of the Internet of Things
- Augmented reality is making furniture shopping much easier
- Voice assistance in retail
- Retailers embrace mobile optimization
- Real-time location-based services
- Online grocery shopping
- Bridging the gap between social media and retail
BONUS CONTENT INCLUDED THROUGHOUT POST:
- A trial of the HR employee scheduling software McDonald’s, Nike, and Amazon pop-up use
- [Download] Top 10 Reasons Retail Owners Should Use Employee Scheduling Software
- How a pop-up store can help your eCommerce business
- [Download] ROI calculator
- [Download] 30 Tips Real Managers Share for Opening a Successful Retail Store
When you went to the grocery store as a kid, it was a completely different process from going to the grocery store in present day. While walking through aisles to find your food has, for the most part, stayed the same. What hasn’t stayed the same is the use of technology within the shopping & buying process. Companies have been able to use technology to their benefit by utilizing strategies like Omnichannel retail to build out a better buying experience for their customers, studying analytics to better understand their customer, having smarter AI to allow for self-checkout stations, as well as using employee scheduling software to assure their employees get their schedules early and on time. To learn more regarding how employee scheduling software helps retailers, download our guide below.
These technologies have worked to not only help companies build stores that can generate more profit, but also to build a better buying experience for customers. While there have been a number of notable accomplishments in the realm of retail technology, it is only the beginning. There are still a number of new retail technology trends that are working to change the retail sector for the better. To give you a better idea of what is just on the horizon in terms of retail technology trends, continue reading as I fill you in on a couple of examples of what retail business owners can come to expect for 2019.
This one may seem like it’s straight out of a sci-fi movie, and in a lot of ways it is. While facial recognition software sounds far-fetched and you may be skeptical on the strength of the technology at its current form, the reality is that it’s already being used on a large scale for a number of products. For example, when you pull out your phone and take a selfie, you’ll notice that your phone is able to automatically detect your face (along with any other faces you may have in the photo), so it can focus on your facial features and produce a picture that is much crisper. This is an example of facial recognition software that is being used by world-renowned brands like Apple, Android, as well as a number of other smartphone brands.
Another example is when you post a group photo on Facebook with a couple of your friends in it. Before you go and tag them each individually, you’ll notice that little circles around their faces appear that have already tagged them. While it may have creeped you out at first, you’ve grown used to it after time and like the convenience it offers you. Once again, this is an example of facial recognition software being used in everyday life.
Now that you have a better sense of the technology I’m talking about, let’s move onto how it’s used in regards to retail.
- Cutting down on crime
I’m sure I don’t have to tell you, shoplifters are a huge problem for retailers. So much so, that about $13 billion is lost by retailers each year ($35 million each day) because of shoplifters stealing products. While some people see this as a victimless crime because it predominantly affects big-box retailers and is interpreted as the cost of doing business. The reality is that it does have a large negative effect on the retailers that deal with it. So much so, that they have to offset the lost funds by adding to the price of their products, which directly hurts their consumers.
Well, the days of constantly worrying about shoplifters may be coming to an end very soon. Spearheaded by brands like Amazon, Facefirst, and Luxriot, a steady rise has been seen regarding the quality of facial recognition software available to brands and in 2019, you should begin to see it used more in stores as a crime deterrent. Imagine if there was a team of serial shoplifters that made their way around to different Walmarts all across their city with the goal of taking as much as they could.
While they may have been able to get away with it at one Walmart, what happens is that the first store uploads their facial recognition database with their images so when they try to enter another Walmart, their theft prevention team is instantly alerted of their presence and are able to stop them. This goes to show just how much of an impact on crime prevention that facial recognition software will have. It has the potential of saving brands billions of dollars each year.
- Relevant advertising
You know those little tv screens that have seemingly appeared in every gas pump overnight? Well, you’re about to find the videos they play a lot more interesting. The use of facial recognition software will allow these gas pump tv screens to play ads that are much more targeted to your demographic. For example, a 17-year-old boy that stops to get gas will view a completely different commercial than a 49-year-old woman. That’s because facial recognition software will have the ability to identify each and every person that stops at that gas pump and will build an advertising experience that’s unique to them.
You may have a worried look on your face after seeing this one but don’t worry, this doesn’t mean that robots are taking over…not yet anyway. A smart store is loosely defined as a brick-and-mortar retail store that utilizes smart technologies incorporated into items like shelves, carts, cards, check out stations, etc. Early this year, Amazon unveiled an experimental smart store referred to as Amazon Go and is a convenience store that uses no cashiers whatsoever. In fact, you don’t even have to worry about waiting in line to check out your products.
The store works by scanning your phone as soon as you enter, then a system of cameras all along the ceiling uses computer vision along with sensor technology to automatically detect when you take items and when you put them back. You then leave the store and your account is automatically charged with all of the items that you took. Thus completely eliminating the need for customers to wait in line. And this idea isn’t as far off as you may think, the beta was completely functional this year, so it isn’t crazy to believe the platform will be better built out by next year. Brands will most likely first implement the technology using pop-up stores so they have a way to test it out. If your brand is interested in analyzing the benefits of a pop-up store along with how to build one of your own, check out the article linked below.
I know we’ve already had self-checkout stations for a number of years now, but let me explain. In a major effort to cut costs on labor and improve their ROI, retailers are working towards getting their customers more comfortable with using self-checkout technology.
In an interview with Huffington Post, one grocery store cashier stated,
“They want the self-checkout host to pull as many customers to self-checkouts as they can. They want you to invite them over, say, ‘Hey have you used our self-checkouts? If not, I’d be happy to show you how it works’”
And research shows that sales have increased greatly in the past years and is only going to grow. So as we approach 2019, be on the lookout for self-checkouts to keep growing in numbers as there is an ever-shrinking number of cashiers. And to assure your ROI doesn’t get to the point where your cutting labor costs just to stay afloat, click here to download an ROI calculator to keep handy whenever you need it.
If you’re unfamiliar with the Internet of Things, it’s a term used to describe the interconnection via the internet of computing devices that are found within everyday objects, which allows them to send and receive data. You’ve most likely experienced this when you walk into a store and suddenly your phone alerts you of special deals that are going on within the store that you would be interested in. While it’s current state is interesting, it’s about to get a lot more interesting as more and more products start to utilize the technology.
One example is found within the advent and rise of smart refrigerators, as you run out of milk, cheese, bread, etc. the refrigerator is able to detect this and send messages to your phone regarding deals in the area that can help them fill their need. For example, if you’re grocery store is running a buy one, get one free sale on gallons of milk, and there’s someone running low on milk and owns a smart refrigerator, then they’ll be alerted of your store’s special milk sale. Expect for the internet of things and it’s intertwining with an ever-growing list of everyday products to make a big commotion in 2019.
Have often have you been out furniture shopping and thought,
“I wonder what that cabinet would look like in my bedroom?” or “How would my home look with an island kitchen?”
I’m willing to bet if you had a clear visual of what the furniture would look in the space you want to put it in, you would be quicker to make a purchase. Well, the time has come and augmented reality is here to make you more comfortable with your purchases. It works by the user going on their phone and choosing which furniture they’d be interested in purchasing. It then shoots a virtual image that shows exactly what the piece of furniture would look like. Take a look at the video below to get a better idea of how it works.
Ikea is at the head of this and currently has an app out called “Ikea Place”, which allows their users to get an idea of what certain pieces of furniture would look like before they purchase it by showing a 3D image of the item.
Along with augmented reality, voice assistance is also being used to increase the shopping experience for a number of retailers. Now, this may be bringing back some bad memories of you struggling to use Siri or getting varied responses from your Amazon Echo when all you wanted to do was ask for the weather. In reality, voice technology has improved significantly and most consumers have reached a point where they feel very comfortable using it. To the point where people are beginning to ask more complex and drawn out questions. Retailers have realized this and 2019 is the year where they begin to use it to its potential in the retail sector. Here are two ways in which retailers are gearing up to utilize voice assistance in their stores.
- Easier to find items in store
You walk into the store and know exactly what you want but just can’t find the exact location. You look around and there are no employees around available to help you. Instead of waiting or going searching for staff to help out, you pull out your phone, open the store’s app or website and ask to be directed to which area in the store has the product you’re looking for. It then replies, “Aisle 7, Row B”. You make your way over and find exactly what you’re looking for. As voice technology gets better, expect to find this more often in different retailers.
- Instant product feedback
You order a new TV and in your excitement to try out your new product, you forget to complete the online survey regarding how you feel about the product. They send you a reminder but you were at work and didn’t have the time to fill it out at the time. So while you’re getting your morning started and asking your Amazon Echo or Siri details surrounding the weather or traffic, it casually slips in and asks how you felt about the TV. For which you’re able to give a quick verbal response that will be sent to the company for feedback purposes. With the importance of product feedback for brands, it only makes sense that they exploit every avenue they can to get their feedback.
As nice as voice assist is, it’s not enough to save a dying store. Click on the link below to instantly download an eguide with 30 tips for opening & running a successful retail store.
It’s expected that the number of smartphone users worldwide is going to surpass 5 billion people by 2019. So, needless to say, finding a way to make use of the supercomputer found in everyone’s pocket is in the best interests for retailers. One strategy growing in popularity is the use of mobile wallets which allows customers to leave their wallets at home and to use their phones that have their credit and debit card information stored. Consumers using mobile wallets just have to tap buttons or hover their phones over payment devices to complete transactions.
Another strategy is to better utilize Beacon technology which are devices that use Bluetooth technology to send messages to phones that are within their vicinity. One special aspect of Beacon technology is that it’s able to instantly send a push notification to consumers with a specific app on their phone, even when the app isn’t running. So Target is able to send consumers, that are within a close proximity to their stores, a list of coupons and other deals that they may be interested in. Which greatly increases their incentive to shop at their store. Watch for this technology to make a bigger impact in 2019.
A couple comes into your store looking for a car seat for their child. After looking around for about 20 minutes, they find one they feel like is a good fit but still want to ask a few questions before committing to the purchase. They look around but don’t see any staff members that can help them out. So they pull out their phone and open the retailers’ app to see a real-time visualization of the store’s layout as well as the location of all of the staff. They press on one of the staff icons and choose the “Need assistance” option, the employee is then instantly alerted and heads over to the couple’s location to help them with any questions they may have. Location-based services are already being used to sway consumers buying decisions by informing them of coupons as well as special sales, the next step is to use the technology to strengthen their customer service.
And while this will help fill the gap if you are understaffed, you should still be making moves to guarantee you have enough employees staffed at all times. If you’re experiencing issues with having enough employees staffed when you need them, check out Deputy. It’s able to learn from your past schedules and automatically assign the right amount of employees needed for each shift. Click on the link below to start your free trial, no credit card required.
Who still has time to spend an hour going through rows of products just to get their groceries? Amazon didn’t purchase Whole Foods for fun, they did it because they saw an impending growth of consumers “clicking-and-collecting”, which is a term used to describe people building their carts of groceries online than physically coming to the store to pick it up. Aside from Amazon, brands like Kroger and Target have already started to make moves within the realm.
While social media has been an overwhelming entity in the past years, retailers haven’t been able to bridge the gap between social media users and their stores. While they can always slap an advertisement on a Snapchat story or an Instagram feed, the next step is to get users to store their payment information within their social accounts. This will allow retailers to capitalize on more impulse-driven purchases. Watch for social platforms to start asking if users would like to store payment information, as well as advertisements with more calls to action to encourage an immediate sale.
2019 will be here before you know it, and it’s important that brands understand what trends will be driving the year so they don’t get left behind. Research the topics above so you understand how to make the most of each platform. And as always, take steps to protect your business by adopting an employee scheduling platform that frees up your time so you can focus on bettering your store. Click on the link below to begin your free trial.
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