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Technology Trends in Retail

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Meghan Peterson, Director — Technical Solutions

There’s no denying it: We are a tech-savvy society. Consumers use their favorite devices and apps to browse, compare and shop wherever and whenever they like. Retailers who aren’t investing in technology will likely be left behind. Let’s take a look at four retail technology trends impacting the industry today.

Trend 1: Touchscreen tablets

Whether free-standing, tabletop or mounted, touchscreens are front and center in many retail settings including car showrooms, restaurants and stores. Uses for this technology include product demonstration, payment processing, interactive videos and inventory management. Touch screens are an excellent way to get customers more involved and engaged with your brand. 

Trend 2: Location beacons

What started as a novelty is now becoming more widely accepted as retailers better understand how to use proximity marketing in a way that consumers find acceptable. Location-based technologies such as Bluetooth-connected beacons enable personalized, real-time messages, offers and promotions to be delivered through smartphones. Macy’s, Lord & Taylor and Urban Outfitters are a few of the brands that are already on board. 

Trend 3: Virtual assistants

Asking Siri or Alexa a question has become part of most people’s daily routines. Virtual and digital assistants are making their way into our shopping activities, too, heralding the advent of voice-generated purchases. For example, LG produces refrigerators that can order groceries via Amazon’s Alexa. In fact, voice shopping is expected to jump to $40 billion in 2022, up from $2 billion today, according to data from OC&C Strategy Consultants. Industry experts suggest that this new channel might become the next major disruptive force in retail.

In 2017, MAC Cosmetics launched a virtual try-on mirror at their freestanding stores. By using augmented reality, the mirror lets customers try on a curated set of makeup styles without actually applying any products.

Trend 4: Human-free interactions

Retail is responding to customers’ changing demands in a number of ways. Cashier-less self-checkout registers are becoming more commonplace. In-store package pick-up kiosks, like those Whole Foods offers at certain locations for Amazon Prime orders, are a convenient option for customers concerned about porch theft. Mobile ordering and checkout kiosks with mobile app payments are quite popular in fast-casual restaurants, too. In fact, California eatery CaliBurger took that concept one step further by linking facial recognition technology to its loyalty program. Members using an ordering kiosk are shown their favorite meals based on previous purchases. They can even pay for their purchases without the need for a physical or digital wallet.