You don’t need to be a rocket science to understand that the continuing developments in technology and the way that information is exchanged is transforming almost every aspect of our lives.
The rise in social media, the emergence of geo-located technology, and the shift from desktop to mobile internet access have all been key drivers of the changes that we are seeing on a day-to-day basis.
In this article we take a look at how these developments are impacting the retail sector, and what this might mean for retailers and consumers in the coming years.
For retailers who rely on customer footfall to showcase their products and convert sales, then beacons are a technological innovation that is worth taking a look at. Beacons are a way of leveraging consumers shift to mobile technology – by using Bluetooth, strategically placed beacons can be used to alert retailers as to when potential customers are passing through or nearby their store or physical premises. The beacons can then be used to deliver targeted or tailored marketing to that specific consumer. For example, you could send them a discount coupon, or you could change the digital display advertising to something that they have been searching for recently.
Another strength of beacons is that they can be invaluable in data collection, helping you to test and evaluate the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns and tracking the return on investment of your marketing spend.
Internet of Things
You might be hearing about the Internet of Things (or IoT) without really understanding what it is or how it might impact a sector such as retail. In simple terms, the Internet of Things derives from all of the smart appliances that we now have throughout our homes, and the increasing connectivity between them. Smart appliances such as televisions, fridges, all security systems all collect data and all be used to help tailor and target marketing activity.
Add a virtual home assistant into that mix – such as Alexa from Amazon, Microsoft Dynamics, or the Google Home version – then you suddenly have a very sophisticated and connected technology infrastructure that knows more about your home and your life than you do.
Artificial Intelligence, or AI is an emerging aspect of technology that is raising lots of questions for the retail sector. One of the obvious applications of AI in retail is that artificial intelligence will enable retails to understand the preferences of customers and to anticipate their needs before the customer actually recognizes the need themselves, delivering a personalized and proactive retail experience. The next level could see artificial intelligence enabled assistants helping shoppers to navigate the purchase process.
For the retail sector, the technology of virtual reality and the associated augmented reality is a way to bridge that hurdle that one of the barriers to online shopping is not being able to physically see the product. Virtual and augmented reality, enables the potential customer to experience the product in a way that is almost as if they were in the store with you.