How Technology is Transforming Our High Streets

by Simon Fahie, Managing Director Global Technology at ByBox

Technology continues to transform the high street as retailers strive to keep pace with omnichannel and offer an enhanced customer experience. This month’s RBTE event showcased a full range of technological products and services across retail from ecommerce to store operations, all designed to make retailers’ and shoppers’ lives easier and more connected than ever before. It was evident from the exhibition stands and conferences that the retail sector is focused on using the best datadriven technology.

The last decade has seen ecommerce really take off, the changes have been dramatic. Yet, it’s only the last few years that retailers moved from operating their online and physical stores separately, to a fully integrated and personalised omnichannel strategy.

Retailers and suppliers are working hard to provide a variety of products and tools to keep up with the technology dependent customer. This includes upgrading to a range of technology, such as self-scan machines, interactive kiosks and augmented reality.

Most high street stores are investing in these new in-store experiences and capabilities, with 75% of retail decision makers planning on increasing spend on in-store technology such as augmented reality. Large amounts of resource, time and finances have been used to match the expectations of the modern connected shopper.

We are focused on the new challenges this technology brings. The reliance on technology to build customer relationships and experiences means the consequences of equipment failure have grown exponentially. Over one-third of shoppers report an experience of being unable to complete their purchase due to technology failure, often abandoning items altogether. This is further highlighted from the recent research we conducted into the cost of downtime goes way beyond losing a sale; impacting what should be an enjoyable and seamless experience and quickly becoming a lost customer and potentially market share. Brand loyalty does not always survive a technology failure.

That’s why we have used innovative mobile technology coupled with smart lockers to enable a new service, Switch, that is focussed on reducing the cost of delivering a same-day fix.

This year’s RBTE was filled with discussions around artificial intelligence, payment options, data and automation, all of which will continue to fuel our dependence on technology and our intolerance of failures. Given that dependence, retailers would be wise to consider the criticality of maintenance and repair times with similar importance to the original technology investment.