Trends that can change the game for retail in future

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It is that time of the year where retail takes the forefront, courtesy the festive and holiday shopping extravaganza created by retail brands to entice shoppers and ring in more sales. And as the year draws to a close with the buzz around the New Year’s curtain raiser, it is time for retailers to peek into the crystal ball of the future and get a preview of the trends that could prove to be the game-changers in the year 2018 and beyond.

Predictions of what lies ahead for retail in 2018 are already doing the rounds and it is no surprise that Artificial Intelligence (AI), Virtual & Augmented Reality i.e. VR and AR, Internet of Things or IoT, self-checkouts, drone based delivery, and so on, would appear in most lists. The fact of the matter is that these technologies have already begun impacting the retail sector and 2018 will see this impact intensifying multifold. As such, retail businesses must look to invest in some or all of them if necessary to keep up with the trend.

Having said that, going into 2018 most retailers will still need to work on some extremely vital aspects as these will not be mere trends but rather a necessity and benchmarks for customers to pick and choose the brands they would like to associate themselves with.

The 3 important aspects are:

Omni-channel: The top priority for most retailers will be to streamline their businesses in-order to offer a unified omni-channel customer experience. So whether it is adding new channels or  integrating systems, operations, processes or handling supply-chain and omni-channel fulfillment or providing features like click-and-collect & endless aisle, retailers must get it right in omni-channel retail using the right omni-channel retail solutions.

Mobility: Based on the data from the major shopping events in 2017, mobile proved to be a force to reckon with. As mobile shopping has become a new norm, retailers looking to ‘omni-channelize’ their businesses need to integrate this channel seamlessly. Other aspects of mobility such as mobile payments and mobile POS systems would continue to be essential technologies that retailers would need to keenly invest in.

Analytics: The power of big-data analytics is something every industry has recognized and so is the case with retail. However going into 2018, analytics will have to be woven into the fabric of the retail business through the right technology to enable retailers to take important business and strategic decisions as well has help in planning promotions, providing personalization and planning seasons ahead.

Like in 2017, even in the New Year, retail will be customer-driven. Retailers must realize and appreciate the importance of focusing on the customer rather than the products, the channels and other aspects. As such, customer-centricity must run deep down in the DNA of their business to have a Happy and Prosperous New Year 2018!

Internet of Things (IoT) in Retail – Self-checkout Kiosks

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IoT has emerged as an undisputed hero of the retail sector. From smart shelves to AR-enabled mirrors, IoT has taken retail by storm. It has not only reaped benefits for the retailers, but also has been successful in providing an enthralling shopping experience to the customers.

Smart shelves have already revolutionized the way retailers assort their products without having an adverse impact on their bottom lines. Another exciting offering from IoT is self-checkout kiosks. To put it simply, self-checkout kiosks help customers pay for their purchases without human intervention through digital means. In its most basic form, it can be thought of as an upgrade to the snack vending machine, but in reality, it is much more than that.

Self-checkout kiosks have evolved tremendously in the last decade. Many retailers use them to solve various issues related to billing such as long queues, cash management, RFID tag tracking among others. They have not been restrained to just being giant bulky machines that are capable of handling transactions. Nowadays, retailers can also provide mobile application based payments through QR code embedded on the products, contactless payments or such other means. This application enables customers to check out as and when they want instead of waiting for their turn in a queue. Though not exactly a kiosk, it enables self-checkout quite effectively.

Retailers have also come up with some really user-friendly LED touchscreen panels, which help customers make their purchase in a hassle-free manner while having a memorable shopping experience. These interactive kiosks are capable of handling multiple payment modes and can also keep track of the customers’ previous purchases and preferred promotions using an intelligent algorithm.

However, the problem associated with self-checkout kiosks is products being stolen. This can be taken care of by using smart shelves or by attaching efficient RFID tags, which would impel customers to put their products on the RFID remover once they are done with the payment, thus ensuring the safety of the products. Also, some customers might find them difficult to use, this issue can be resolved by installing LED touchscreen kiosks or by using mobile applications as explained earlier.

IoT is here to stay. It helps retailers to embark upon a journey that is both exciting and beneficial for them. It is the prerogative of the retailers to incorporate such smart technologies in their business operations to enhance their bottom line while providing the customers with a hassle-free and exciting shopping experience. Long live innovation! Long live retail!

Internet of Things (IoT) in Retail – Smart Shelves

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The possibilities related to retail have truly been endless – omni-channel, VR, AR, AI, and IoT being some of them. While these may seem like stiff challenges for retailers to implement, they need to recognize the opportunities hidden behind these challenges. These opportunities could impel retailers to explore newer and more efficient avenues to cater to their customers’ needs, to streamline business processes, and to improve bottom lines.

One such opportunity that knocks on the door of retailers is Internet of Things (IoT). It is no more a buzzword, it has gained prominent significance in the retail space. The Internet of things (IoT) is a network of connected devices embedded with electronics, software, sensors, actuators, and so on which enable these objects to collect and exchange data. This concept of IoT has many applications depending on the physical devices that are connected and one of the most remarkable applications of IoT in retail is Smart Shelves. As the name suggest, shelves that have been made capable of storing, processing and sharing data are known as smart shelves. They provide with various benefits to the retailers such as:

  1. Easy replenishment: As smart shelves are capable of monitoring data pertaining to the items placed on them, they send real time updates to the retailers so as to enable them to restock the shelves as and when required.
  2. Customer interest identification: The shelves can identify which products are more sought after and which are not by analyzing the data associated with product returns. This also helps retailers in identifying customers’ interests and better manage their inventory.
  3. Tracking misplaced items: There are various instances where items get misplaced, causing a dent to the retailers’ bottom line. Smart shelves can help retailers to curb the problem of misplaced items by alerting them through notifications and allowing them to look into the matter without causing any damage to the sales and the inventory.
  4. Pricing display: An interactive kiosk or LED panel attached to the shelves can really enhance the efficiency of the store as it will allow people to search for the desired product and associated price, promotions and other relevant information without any trouble.

In the modern age of digitalization and tech savvy customers, it is imperative for retailers to identify the points/strategies which can be implemented to improve the overall performance of the business. IoT along with various other techniques such as omni-channel retail and AI can help retailers achieve the desired growth in a short span of time.