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How Technology is Changing the World of Retail
Changes in consumer behaviour entail changes for retail companies, as well. Recently, it has been more about adapting to change through technologies not only to keep up with the times but also to offer a better experience for the customers.
Here are a few changes that have happened in the last decade in the world of retail thanks to advances in technology.
Because of the wonders of the internet, consumers can readily access the information they need, especially when it comes to making purchasing decisions. According to research, 81% of shoppers look up information about products or services they are considering before finally buying it, relying on various sources and their intuition.
The increase in prepurchase research is perhaps due to their decreasing confidence in television and print ads, as Nielsen has shown that buyers are becoming wary of marketing in television ads (confidence is down by 24%), magazines (down 20%), and newspapers (down 25%).
From price check and comparison to reviews and ratings from other customers who have bought the item or service, essential details are within reach, helping buyers make the right decision.
For companies, this means not only offering a better quality of service but also meeting the increased consumer demands through the adoption of new technologies, such as considering the advantages of using the cloud.
Thanks to Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning (ML), and Analytics, retailers can anticipate their customers’ needs. When done right, these three can provide recommendations that speed up the buying process for a better experience.
In fact, according to Amazon, their recommendation engine is responsible for 35% of its sales. ML can also drill down customer information through robust shopping profiles and find similar details from specific users, to whom a compelling call-to-action should attract their attention through a notification.
Of course, this requires opt-in data collection from people and offering incentives for it.
Continuous improvements may see chatbots offer smarter personalisation, such as deals recommendations, orders tracking, and many other features.
Omnichannel purchasing journey
This improvement is perhaps the only one that still involves a traditional purchasing step, which is a visit to a physical store and not relying on a single medium. An omnichannel experience means a seamless process that involves different channels. A good example would be searching for items on e-commerce sites, then visiting a store that carries the said item to check it, and perhaps eventually buy it.
According to the National Retail Federation, people are happy to utilise both digital means and traditional stores in their purchasing journey, with 89 million customers using a combination of online and in-store shopping, especially during Thanksgiving until the holiday season. Also, omnichannel users are willing to spend $93 more than average customers.
Shopping with or without help from the sales staff
Going mobile has also been helpful for the store’s staff, allowing them to be on the floor with shoppers and adding items on their carts, much like how online shopping goes. With the help of mobile point of sale devices, the staff can then swipe the shoppers’ credit card right there for faster checkout, which also contributes to better sales engagement.
Some even went beyond POS with the help of RFID tags, computer vision systems, Internet-of-Things, facial recognition, and many other technologies. For instance, the cashier-less Amazon Go allows smartphone users to shop quickly, without lines in the checkout counters.
These changes are just the tip of the iceberg, but this begs the question of which technologies should companies adopt. The answer is different for every retailer, and there are a lot of considerations to mull over. What’s certain is that companies need to utilise technology now.
About the authorChris is a Content Writer at Globe myBusiness Academy and a contributing writer to various business and finance blogs.
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