Here, at ChargeItSpot, we like to keep our fingers on the pulse of the latest retail technology tools and trends. As a retail tech provider, we understand the increasingly large role technology plays in improving – and shaping – the shopping experience. While ecommerce is gaining ground, the majority of consumers are still shopping in traditional brick-and-mortar stores so they can see and feel the product, receive helpful recommendations from sales staff or simply enjoy the instant gratification of making a purchase. Technology will help retailers refashion their physical stores to be more in harmony with the e-commerce experience.
We’ve previously written about charging kiosks, beacons, retail analytics software, augmented reality and biometrics in a blog post in Q1 of 2016. Now, as we’ve embarked Q3 of 2016, let’s review some of the newest or improved retail tech tools on the market:
Smart shelves equipped with sensors that keep track of inventory, advertise directly to consumers and offer real-time price updates based on demand are quickly gaining ground in big box retailers. From the Panasonic Powershelf suite to NeWave’s Smart Shelf, smart shelves and electronic shelf labels (ESLs) are solving a major pain point in inventory management in retail.
Cloud-based POS Technology
Some of the most innovative rethinking of the shopping experience is happening in the realm of POS (or point-of-sale) systems. How customers pay for in-store purchases is rapidly evolving and becoming digitized as people expect a faster check-out process. Store clerks from Apple to Restoration Hardware to Jurlique are now equipping themselves with iPads to process transactions anywhere within the store. These new cloud-based POS solutions not only provide a markedly improved customer experience, they also allow sales staff to cross-sell related products in a quick and seamless way.
While wearable technology is still relatively in its infancy, the potential for it to disrupt the brick-and-mortar shopping experience is tremendous. Wearables can provide fast, hassle-free payment (just pay through your watch!), notifications about long lines or in-store promotions,, and even insights on shopper intent. With the advent of wearables, a hands-free shopping experience – in which the journey from browse to buy is completed exclusively through a wearable device – is now within the realm of possibility.
No longer confined to the video game industry, virtual reality and VR headsets are coming to your favorite stores. Big-name retailers like Ikea, Lowe’s, TOMS and North Face have already turned to VR to help drive sales, boost brand awareness and make shopping more fun and exciting. Virtual reality headsets mimic real world sights and sounds by using a combination of motion-tracking, graphics and algorithms. Applications can be as diverse as allowing shoppers to see what their home renovations would look like in real life (Lowe’s) to giving consumers the experience of rock-climbing in Yosemite (North Face). Whether VR is a dazzling gimmick or a tool that has a real impact on the bottom line still remains to be seen.
From smart shelves to VR, retailers and department stores are continuing to experiment with retail technology tools to help them stay relevant and be successful. Whether these new tools are temporary fads or game-changers remains to be seen. Either way, there’s no doubt that technology is transforming the retail landscape as we know it and that retailers who adapt best to these changes will have the upper hand.