In 2021, adopting new technologies is what separates a good business from a great one. When retail companies invest in upgrading their current technology, employees and customers benefit tremendously.
Whether it’s easy curbside pickup or advanced cameras that prevent theft, it’s difficult to find any downsides to improving existing retail processes. Shopper behavior changes on what seems like a daily basis — retail stores must accommodate the needs and wants of their customers if they’re looking to achieve success.
Here are some of the top trends in the retail industry to look out for in 2021. They are capable of transforming retail experiences using innovative technologies.
1. Omnichannel Retail Experiences
The goal of a retail store is to provide customers with enjoyable, seamless shopping experiences. Omnichannel retail is an advertising strategy that utilizes multiple channels to reach customers. This makes their task of shopping less stressful and more straightforward.
Whether a customer shops on their mobile device or desktop, retailers must remain consistent across all channels. Combining a real-world and online presence is essential to creating omnichannel retail experiences.
Customers should be met where they are regardless of how they shop. Retailers can benefit from omnichannel retail because it builds brand loyalty and recognition. It also makes business management easier — having all the moving parts in one management system makes data easily accessible.
It’s no surprise that there are potential risks associated with retailers digitizing their operations. Hackers and online criminals are prevalent now more than ever, so retailers must take preventive measures. Cybersecurity will be an essential safeguard for retailers in the next few years.
In 2020, Trustwave found that 24% of cyberattacks targeted companies in the retail sector. This surpassed other industries, so retailers must implement some form of security into their online management systems.
Supply chains act as the backbone of retail — how else would stores be able to sell their products? When risks associated with supply chain disruptions are prevented through cybersecurity, retailers can spend more time focusing on other business operations that require their attention.
3. Custom Mobile Applications
There seems to be an app for anything and everything these days. Retail apps are no exception — in a 2018 Synchrony study, 67% of consumers downloaded retail apps onto their devices. Whether it’s for browsing or purchasing from a retailer, this is a staggering number.
Apps allow brands to engage directly with their customers, offer app-specific discounts, and improve brand recognition and loyalty. Customers who take the time to download apps typically have a strong interest in that retailer. Most stores have apps available, but more will integrate apps into their business strategies based on the trend.
4. Artificial Intelligence
Retail stores will benefit from the integration of artificial intelligence (AI) into their systems. AI helps retailers create more efficient processes and can even improve inventory management.
The implementation of AI enables retailers to make sense of the data they collect when shoppers complete transactions. Retail stores can forecast predictions on what items will sell best and make educated decisions based on that information. The possibilities are endless when it comes to using AI in the retail industry.
In the next few years, it will be more common for retailers to use AI to stay ahead of their competitors. Those willing to adopt this new technology will see boosts in sales and improvements in other operations. In contrast, others will have to work to close that gap.
5. Voice Recognition
The market for voice recognition assistants has and will continue to grow well into the next decade. By 2024, it’s estimated that 8.4 billion voice assistants will be in households worldwide. Retailers should take this seriously — many users will ask their Amazon Alexa or Google Home to add to their shopping lists while performing other household chores. It’s becoming effortless to shop, mainly because retailers integrate voice recognition into their marketing strategies.
Although it will most likely serve as a complementary feature, voice recognition services will improve the customer shopping experience, making them more likely to purchase items from one retailer more frequently.
6. Touchless Interactions
It’s no secret that payment methods are becoming more sophisticated. Someone’s phone can now act as their wallet, and the need to carry credit and debit cards is slowly disappearing.
One example of new technology to make checkout easier is Amazon Fresh stores. Amazon created the first of its kind Just Walk Out method for checkout, which allows customers to scan a barcode on their phone to complete their transactions. The store uses high-quality, technologically advanced cameras to monitor items taken off shelves, identifies what’s in a customer’s cart and charges them accordingly.
These are only some examples of the technology that will enter the retail industry in the next few years.
The Future of a Digital Retail Industry
It will be interesting to see how technology is applied in practical ways to benefit both the retailer and customer. Trends tend to either catch on and take hold or fall to the wayside. Retailers must be willing to experiment with new technologies to improve their overall business performance.
Credit: Devin Partida is a retail writer and blogger. You can read more posts from Devin at ReHack.com, where she is the Editor-in-Chief.