The Future of the Retail SectorBy CIOApplications Europe
Digital transformation has radically changed the retail sector. An accelerating shift away from in-store shopping towards e-commerce and m-commerce has led to store closures and job losses on the high street. However, this trend does not necessarily mean the end of the high street. However, the selection pressure on retail businesses is changing, and failure to adapt will lead to a decline or even extinction.
In the age of the internet, smartphones and IOT devices, researching a product, comparing prices, ordering, and often taking doorstep delivery on the same day is the norm. That is why traditional retail businesses need to update their business models to keep up with the Amazon age.
The themes that have come to challenge the retail sector are emerging technologies such as Augmented Reality (AR), the Internet of Things (IoT), voice, and 3D printing. Also, the need to offer improved in-store experiences, the importance of personalization in customer relationship management (CRM), the evolution of brick-and-mortar stores, the advancement of novel payment options, e-commerce, and the pressure for faster product development and speedier fulfillment.
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AR technology, according to analysts, is poised to become more sophisticated in 2018. IKEA's Place app, built on Apple's ARKit, which lets you see how different IKEA products would look in your home, is a good example. Payment platform provider Ayden predicts that AR and voice-driven shopping will become "an everyday shopping reality" in 2018, citing Target and Walmart partnerships with Google Home in 2017. IoT beacons will also help retailers manage inventory better, connecting with shoppers and managing losses from theft.
Improved in-store experiences
The trend for retail stores to become 'town squares,' where customers can have more social experiences aka retailment, is on the rise. Experience is more vital than ever, and retailers need to ensure that their stores remain relevant. Chain Store Age predicts that stores will need to transition from holding inventory to becoming 'guide shops,' where consumers can touch the products and sales associates can educate customers."
Brick & mortar evolution
Despite widespread store closures, many retailers—especially the ones leveraging data and listening to customers are expanding. Cloud-based solutions and mobile applications are ensuring shops are set up with least investment, spurring more independent stores.
E-commerce, mobile POS & payment options
A key need for retailers is to keep up with the digital transformation of payment systems—e-commerce and m-commerce. Samsung's Insights blog also highlights “the importance of in-store mobile POS systems for better customer service and the need for flexibility in payment methods,” which also include supporting mobile wallets.
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