By Bhupinder Kour
New technologies continue to change the world of retail. Various interesting and surprising elements came into play in the retail industry, like investment in mobile applications, using Chatbots and AI technology to deliver an exceptional conversational experience to the customers, etc. And customers have completely loved the services.
Acquainted with so many options for faster, convenient, and personalized shopping, customers are now demanding more. So, to meet their demands, get ready to explore and invest in the following retail technologies.
1. Drone Delivery
Had you ever thought that your order will be delivered to you not by a delivery person, rather by a drone? If not, then get excited as it is one of the technologies that will take the retail industry to the next level.
The first drone delivery pizza was made last year by Domino’s, in association with its drone delivery affiliate Flirtey, who delivered the order to its user in New Zealand. Since then, various e-commerce giants have shown interest in this technology, and the live example is Amazon. It has recently patented the drone-delivery beehive towers, and are striving to deliver orders within 30 minutes to the customers with the technology.
While the drones will make the delivery process flexible and time-saving, smart glasses integrated with AR technology will make the process safer. They will make the deliveries easier and faster with face-recognition, hand-free route searches, and other such features.
2. Virtual Assistants
The way customers interact with the retailers have changed a lot in the last few years. Driven by the connected world with no time constraints for shopping, the consumers are expecting more from the retailer’s services and support actions.
Virtual assistants and AI-enabled Chatbots are already in practice for answering the queries of the consumers and deliver them a personalized experience. However, now they will have a major impact on the retail business in the year ahead. Siri, Google Home, and Alexa will be used to make a purchase from the online retail stores. The user will give the voice command to the assistant and it will search for the product and suggest the best option on the basis of AI (Artificial Intelligence) and NLP (Natural Language Processing) technologies.
eBay has recently associated with Google’s AI-enabled virtual assistant to let the Australian customers buy the products directly from their Google Home and Android devices during Christmas month.
3. Blockchain Technology
With the kind of security and transparency features it offers, Blockchain would be the prime option for storing and sharing the transactional data. It is expected that 25% of retailers would be using Blockchain technology globally by 2021.
The technology, as you might know, operates with blocks that cannot be altered without letting the associated blocks know about the action. As a consequence, it is nearly impossible to find fraud cases.
The concept of Blockchain technology and Cryptocurrency is not only used by the banks and finance organizations, even retailers are eyeing it. The current process of packet/good delivery is a kind of relay race between the manufacturers, brokers, shippers, carriers, and retailers. The good is passed on from one to another, due to which there’s less control over how the shipment is made and by what time.
Blockchain, in this process, will be an improvement. It will act as an effective medium to track, monitor and fulfill order requests along a complex series of checkpoints. ShipChain, for instance, is a blockchain platform that helps the retailers and logistics to track everything from fraud to stolen packets, to solving miscommunication issues between shippers and suppliers, and so on.
4. Personalized Experience
Personalization has gained a huge momentum in the retail industry. According to the Boston Retail Partners (BRP) Digital Commerce Study 2017, 51% of retail businesses have delivered products on the same day, while 32% of them delivered by a third-party service like Uber or Lyft, offering more opportunities to the customers to shop, buy and receive goods at their own terms.
To add to your interest, let me tell you that Adidas has revived its app with the ability to make the purchase directly from the app on a single tap, track the order, communicate with the brand and enjoy customized news feed, so as to deliver enhancing and personalizing the shopping experience of the customers.
Personalization will take the retail market to the newer heights in the year 2018. More investments will be made in mobile application development, empowering the consumers to connect with their favorite retailers, manage their account, and pay via different options, and so on.
The concept of personalization will not be confined to online experience; in-store experience will also be elevated by equipping devices like Beacons to attract the customers who enter the store to leverage the offers. Beacons will recognize the users entering the store, go through their previous shopping habits and provide targeted personalized offers to the shoppers.
5. True Convergence of Channels
The retail market is moving beyond multi-channel presence, towards a true union of channels. Instead of attracting users from all platforms individually in the present competitive market, platforms will be used as one to bring higher organic traffic, and thus serve the customers with a seamless and mesmerizing customer experience.
Robotic technologies will completely transform the retail industry. Several retailers and brands, have already employed robots in the supply chain, while others are programming them to assist the consumers in the store. You would be amazed to know that Amazon, at present, has around 45,000 robots working in the warehouses and other departments connected to supply and logistics.
The future of retail is not just confined to mobile payment options and drones facility. Many more new technologies and features will be introduced; signifying the need to completely rethink the model that worked decades ago.