The world of retail is one of the industries most heavily influenced by the ‘digital’ industrial revolution. Retail innovations are reshaping the way consumers browse and buy goods and services. They’re also changing the way retailers market to existing and prospective customers across online and brick-and-mortar channels.
The 24/7 digital world has changed the rules for retailers. Consumers want everything yesterday. As retailers battle to keep pace with consumers, what disruptive retail innovations can we expect to see in 2019? What are the retail trends that are worth paying attention to?
Improved efficiency of staffing
Physical stores are finding it easier to staff shop floors due to their ability to monitor long-term foot traffic. There are software programs like IBM Pulse and Legion that help retailers to evaluate all employee-related elements of running a shop floor, such as the knock-on effect of weather-related and seasonal events that can influence footfall and sales. It was recently revealed that Subway managed to increase footfall by almost a third (31%) just by using IBM Pulse to influence their weather-related digital advertising.
Scaled-up personalised customer service
Almost half (45%) of all retailers are forecast to use artificial intelligence (AI) in some way shape or form by the turn of the next decade. Many retailers are already using AI to learn more about their customers. They can store information on the goods and services they like and dislike. This helps them create a more personalised customer service. For large retailers, it’s not just personalisation that’s the key here, it’s the ability to scale-up their personalisation.
Today’s consumers expect a frictionless experience when paying for goods and services. Retailers are acknowledging this and are looking to offer payment options that are less annoying than other conventional checkout methods. For instance, the innovation of PayPal Here offers sophisticated point-of-sale payments, using card or contactless technology. This also includes both Apple and Android Pay.
Most importantly, this technology is scalable. It includes the option of adding up to 200 users to a single PayPal Here account, with various access levels that allow certain users to generate custom sales reports and receipts etc.
Omnichannel shopping experiences
It’s clear that omnichannel commerce has been in operation for some time, but many retailers struggle to make it work. There needs to be a more refined, joined-up approach to the online and offline sales process. Although omnichannel retail may not be the bells and whistles that some retailers are keen to add, it is the nuts and bolts that keep consumers happy day in, day out.
The ability for retailers to relay physical stock numbers online and to remember online orders in-store are some of the most basic yet vital innovations for the retail sector that need to continue to be commonplace in 2019.
2019 might not be a year for seismic innovations for the retail sector, but these incremental changes will add up to provide a more wholesome shopping experience for the consumer. We’re still some way from autonomous, driverless deliveries and the like, but retailers such as Amazon and Ocado are already investing vast sums of money in such research and development (R&D) to make self-driving or drone deliveries a reality.