A lot can alteration in a decade. A decade ago, the shopping process was anything but seamless. You visited a physical store to choose a pair of shoes and if you liked it, you would buy it. A decade down the line, the rigidity has completely disappeared. Nowadays, when you have to buy a pair of good shoes, all you have to do is to take out a smartphone, visit your preferred e commerce portal, choose your most preferred pair, transfer payment immediately and get the stuff delivered at your doorstep; all within a few days or, sometimes, even on the same day. Or, visit a brick-and-mortar store, search for your favorite pair online using smart searches, get directions on finding it inside the store and directly, make the buying. It is that simple.
Since the time businesses gradually started gaining momentum on the digital transformation front, retail has been trying hard to be at the front. As the focus of digitization is the client and his convenience, the retail sector, which did not want to be left behind, started on ultimate benefits to the customer. The result is a mix of activities embracing digitization, in an effort to generate a seamless, multi-channel experience for the customer.
Digital in Retail
With the customer as effort, retail now attempts to create an environment that enables a quick, hassle-free and seamless buying procedure. The efforts till now have been laudable, with customers in numerous global locations using mobiles for buying, even inside physical stores. Some such transformations are previously in place, like the virtual mirror that promises to replace real trial rooms. The virtual mirror setup has a signal capture camera that helps generate 3D images of the customer. The equipment can combination and match outfits or even cosmetics without the client actually trying them out.
Some of the newest trends that promise to speed up client personalization and experience in the retail scenario are as below:
1) Mobility – Mobile devices in retail is a no-brainer. As an in-store technology, mobile devices in the hands of staff enable quick inventory checking, product detailing and payment services. From a customer perspective, mobile devices can be used as a channel for getting product information streamed at the right time. This makes an enhanced in-store experience. Mobile devices such as wearable, tablets and smartphones are a certain fire way to boost customer engagement both inside and outside the stores. In addition, e commerce sites rely on smartphones to enable quick and hassle-free purchases.
2) Augmented Reality – AR or Augmented Reality could be the next most exciting trend in retail. By agreeing users to find out how their preferred product will look without really having to try it out, AR promises to play a main role in raising the client experience bar.
3) Virtual Assistants – With virtual assistants such as Alexa (Amazon) and Echo (Google) gaining prominence, customers should find it easier for making buying online. Inside stores, virtual digital assistants such as the Alexa can help prospective consumers by empowering them to take the right decisions regarding products and pricing. Chatbots are another alternative to virtual assistants that use voice.
4) Virtual Reality – Virtual Reality might be a slight more complicated than Augmented Reality, simply because it wants additional hardware such as the VR headset to immerse the user in a re-formed world. However, it can be a more effective way to engage the client than the latter.
5) Big Data – Client data is another important parameter that will zoom retail business to the future. Vast repositories of data held by retail players essential to be smartly used for effective mass personalization.
6) Cloud – Cloud offers a seamless user experience to clienteles and others in the retail scheme of things. Cloud facilitates this by making it easier for sharing information smoothly with all the relevant stakeholders in the retail process. Accessibility is the key factor here that boosts client experience.
7) Artificial Intelligence – Artificial Intelligence augments customer personalization. Using systems such as Deep Learning and Machine learning, AI helps customers choose the most relevant products at the right time. Customers can ask questions, or chat with robotic assistants to uncover details about a product. AI also simplifies automation of mundane and repetitive tasks, freeing up staff time for more productive actions.
8) Drone Technology – Drones will be used for delivery of packages and for supportive security. Amazon Prime Air is an example and may form part of the ecommerce giant’s long- term strategy for distribution.
9) IoT – Sensors will be used to analyze and discover customer moods, depending on which the store can play music or straight them to specific products. Personalization is the highest beneficiary here. Sensors can also detect client heartbeats and eye movements to identify interest levels in a product.
10) Payments – Smartphones enable efficient and earlier payments, saving on staff and client time considerably.
By the looks of it, clients will be at the center of digital transformation efforts in retail. By utilizing data, technology and human presence in a balanced manner, retail sector will succeed in transforming client journey. Will it be a fruitful and profitable journey? Only time can say.