In the past decade, there has been a technological revolution in the retail sector. The need for speed and convenience has driven this revolution in the retail sector. Consumers now expect to be able to shop quickly and easily without having to queue or search for items in-store. This has led to the development of new technologies such as self-checkout, contactless payments, mobile shopping apps as well as digital experiences, which are all designed to make the shopping experience quicker, easier, and more engaging.
New technological advances we can find in the retail sector
There have been major advances in recent years regarding the implementation of new technology in the retail sector; in many cases for the convenience of the client, but also to improve the retailer’s operations like stock control, stock organizing to speed packaging, etc. Some of the most impactful has been:
- Self-checkout is a system where customers can scan and pay for their items without the need for a cashier. Many supermarkets and retailers have adopted this technology as it helps to reduce queues and improve efficiency, not only making the shopping experience more convenient for customers but drastically increasing profits, particularly for grocery stores.
- Contactless payment is another new technology that has been introduced in recent years. This allows customers to make payments by simply waving or tapping their card or smart device over a reader without requiring cash or a signature. This convenient way to pay for small purchases is becoming increasingly popular with innovations such as Google Pay, Apple Pay, and Samsung pay.
- Mobile apps have also made a big impact on the retail sector. Many retailers now have their own app, which allows customers to browse and purchase items from their phones. This is convenient for people who are on the go and do not have time to visit a store. Apps can also offer exclusive deals and discounts which can save consumers money. Loyalty programs are another effective way for shoppers to get discounts in-store, as well as entice them to purchase items they might not have had without these discounts.
- Buy online and pick up in-store: with click-and-collect, customers order products online and pick them up in-store. In addition to saving on delivery costs, customers benefit from the speed and convenience of picking up their order from a nearby location as convenient for them.
- In-store mapping: Allows clients to search for a product online and receive instructions regarding the area of the store where it is located. This is a feature implemented in Zara, so clients don’t need to ask the clerks and the shopping process is more efficient.
Impacts of the technical advances on the retail sector
The technological revolution in the retail sector has had a large and mostly positive impact on the sector, resulting in more people shopping online or using mobile apps, as they can do so from the comfort of their own homes. As a result, this has had a negative impact on some smaller traditional brick-and-mortar stores, which have seen a decline in footfall and sales. However, many retailers are now using technology to their advantage by offering click-and-collect services and using data to personalise the shopping experience for their customers.
The technological revolution in the “Phygital Age”
A discussion between Praveen Adhi, Eric Hazan, Sajal Kohli, and Kelsey Robinson, from Mckinsey & Company, highlighted these important points for retailers to benefit and compete in the “Phygital Age”
- The ‘phygital’ shopping experience refers to the trend of physical and digital worlds merging in retail, where everything is connected.
- This shift to e-commerce will result in some customers not coming back to stores or not coming as frequently, so maximizing the value of each trip is important.
- In 2030, stores will be designed to be more personalised and integrated, with sales associates knowing customers on a personal level, and technology being used to confirm replenishment needs and suggest new products.
- To keep up with the competition, retailers need to invest in analytics and personalization.
- Sustainability is also a key concern for consumers.
- Stores should focus on creating a unique experience that aligns with their brand.
You can watch this intriguing discussion here.
The future of the retail sector will inevitably be dominated by technology and the demand for convenience. We can expect to see more retailers offering a range of services made possible by the recent technological growth to personalise the shopping experience for their customers. There will also be a continued focus on speed and convenience while finding new ways to increase sales and reduce running costs.