Retail Tech- At this point, I think most stores understand what precautions consumers expect in-store to feel safe and are starting to respond to these expectations. They are integrating no-contact protocols including mobile payments and self-checkout, social distancing, curbside pickup, masks and mapping store traffic. And of this is great and necessary. But in my view, the next frontier of retail is going to be owned by those retailers and brands who not only meet the bare minimum, but embrace this new world by integrating a bit of “cool” into the modern in-store shopping experience. And next-gen technology, once again, will be at the core.
We are already seeing some of these trends taking shape, particularly within stores that had started phasing in next gen tech into their formats prior to the pandemic. However, the challenge now is how best to pivot to expand usage or even find new ways to utilize this technology. Here are four technologies that are finding new life and purpose in the new world of retail.
Prior to the pandemic, beacons were starting to gain momentum as innovative tools for push-marketing in-store. Beacons are small, battery-operated wireless devices that transmit Bluetooth signals to nearby smartphones. Beacons can reach customers who have Bluetooth enabled and specific retail apps downloaded on their phones.
For example, Macy’s has been using beacons nationwide since 2014. When a customer opens the Macy’s app in-store, the app recognizes which area of the store the customer is in. If the customer is in the makeup department, the app will remind the customer of makeup brands she already liked online.
Now, instead of only pushing marketing and promotional information (such as the best deals based on their shopping behavior), beacons can be repurposed to direct shoppers to the products they are looking for while also connecting to digital signage that gives them all the relevant information about the item. Beacons also enable retailers to streamline shopping experiences and shorten the length of time a shopper is in a store. This is also helpful to those shoppers who prefer to social distance and not come in contact with sales associates.