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Implications for Retail In-Store Technology Investments

Contributors: David Patterson

In this series, our retail experts outline retail in-store technology investments that enable retailers to ensure their shoppers are getting targeted at the best time to drive conversion, both in stores and online.   

After the past few years of disruption, retailers are seeing shoppers excited to get back into physical stores. With this in mind, retailers should be leveraging their physical spaces as a way to differentiate themselves from the competition.  

One way we are seeing retailers thrive in stores is utilizing new and exciting technology to make the in-store experience more personalized for the shopper while also gaining new insights into customer habits. According to Gartner, technology investments are on the rise coming out of 2022, with over 70% of retailers planning to increase their overall store technology spend. So, as a retailer, how do you know what technology is right for you?  

Retail In-Store Technology Foundations Are Key 

Before retailers can expand into newer and more exciting technology, they need to ensure their stores offer the most basic level of tech: Wi-Fi. A recent survey found that 96% of consumers prefer to shop in stores that offer free Wi-Fi, with almost 60% of them demanding it as a basic necessity for entering the store. Offering Wi-Fi for your customers can be an easy way to collect key consumer data while also enabling your store to support other tech features.  

With Wi-Fi in place, it’s easier for stores to expand into other base-level technologies. Cashier-less transactions and self-service options are an ideal next step. Self-checkout and service options continue to gain popularity with shoppers. A recent survey found that 77% of consumers welcome self-scan options and 87% welcome self-checkout. Many shoppers see these self-serve options as a way to make their shopping experience faster and easier. By allowing shoppers to check out on their time and when they’re ready, retailers can free up time for store associates to give more personalized assistance or tackle more value-added store support activities.  

Advances in technology can help to ensure that retailers are getting the most out of their marketing spend. Agile marketing is more important than ever, as customer response is higher when they’re engaged at the right time and with the right messaging.  

Drive Customer Interaction and Analytics with Next Level Technology 

One of the fastest growing areas of analytics is heat mapping in retail stores. Heat mapping uses a series of cameras throughout the store to track where people walk, where they linger, what is picked up, and what is put back or purchased. These readings are then compiled to create a visual heat map that helps retailers understand what is driving traffic and purchasing behaviors in their stores. These maps can even help to drill down to products with high engagement to help retailers continue to curate their assortments and guide visual merchandising decisions.  

Given that over 66% of shoppers are looking for ways to have a unique self-guided shopping journey, interactive store displays have been a popular investment over the last few years. As retailers look for ways to differentiate their store spaces, they’ve continued to lean on tech-driven options. Major players across all areas of retail have started implementing dynamic displays – whether it be screens throughout the store, smart shelf technology, or adding QR codes and other interactive features to their existing store displays.  

Augmented Reality, or AR, technology has been evolving for the last decade. During the pandemic, we saw a surge in the use of AR to help customers get a feel for products while they were locked down at home. Now, 69% of consumers expect to use some form of AR/VR while shopping in the next couple of years. Retailers can leverage this technology in new and exciting ways to draw consumers into stores as a part of their hybrid shopping experience.  

Remain on the Cutting Edge with These Tech Innovations 

The merger of reality and technology is ever-evolving in today’s world – and this trend applies to in-store retail experiences as well. TalkShopLive has been leading the charge of connecting social media livestreaming with the experience of shopping in physical stores. By offering customers an interactive way to experience the product, coupled with the option to pick up purchases in stores, retailers can drive engagement both on and offline.  

The metaverse has also been one of the hottest trends over the last year, but now retailers are wrestling with how best to leverage this space to drive in-store conversion. Leading the charge in the metaverse is the Roblox platform. This platform in particular is drawing in over 45 million daily users as well as brands ranging from Gucci to Nike to Forever21. Retailers who are staying ahead of the game with conversion are finding ways to combine the ability to purchase items both in the metaverse and in stores to drive connectivity between real life and this new digital universe.  

While heat mapping has been a growing analytical tool for retailers, innovators are already evaluating options to apply artificial intelligence (AI) and facial recognition to further discover customer insights. Facial recognition offers an even deeper dive into shopper thoughts as they navigate a store. This technology can register shopper’s sentiment as they interact with products, employees, and more to ensure that the entire shopping experience is pleasant.   

Retail technology trends will continue to evolve as customers get more comfortable with new innovations. As a result, shoppers will expect more out of their in-store experiences in the years to come. It’s important to continually evaluate what steps retailers can take to stay at the forefront of these changes. For more on emerging technology and trends in the retail space, chat with our retail experts today. 

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Tags: Sales and Marketing Technology, Retail Trends