It won’t be an exaggeration to say that the retail industry has recently witnessed a profound transformation due to a shift in customer preferences. The global smart retail market is expected to tap $62.5 billion by 2025, which clearly indicates incredible opportunities in this sector.
Several smart retail solutions are driving this transformation from robotics to mobile apps. In this write-up, we’ll discuss them and help you understand how they work. After reading it, you, too, can digitize your store and maximize your profits.
Smart displays are all the rage in the retail industry as they bring interactive and engaging features, such as nutritional information, ads, and much more. These screens display products when customers get near them with real-time pricing and applicable discounts. Estimates show that the global smart retail display market will reach $20.61 billion by 2028.
Walgreen's Cooler Aisle is an excellent example where they have installed smart screens on coolers and freezers. Instead of having to open the doors to check the contents of a freezer, everything is displayed on the screen. Moreover, it displays calorie counts, customer ratings, and promotions for all the products.
The idea has been so successful that 90% of the customers say they like the smart screen coolers better than their traditional counterparts. Therefore, they are a perfect choice for smart retailers trying to earn more revenue and have a happy customer base.
Smart shelves are amazing tech tools developed to change how retailers carry out their businesses. They automatically detect when a product is added or removed from shelves, making it seamless for stores to keep track of the inventory. Amazon was one of the first companies to jump on this bandwagon by launching Amazon Go. It allows people to buy products directly from the shelves without queuing up on the counters. Instead, they are automatically charged when exiting the store premises, making the process more efficient for customers and smart retailers.
It’s not just Amazon that has delved into this arena. Microsoft also partnered with Kroger a while back to digitize their shelves. The idea caught on quickly, and they started digitizing multiple stores within no time. Currently, the following types of tech are being used in smart retail shelves:
These come in different forms, such as weight, Bluetooth, and NFC sensors. Weight sensors automatically detect the addition or removal of products from the shelves, keeping track of the inventory. On the other hand, NFC & Bluetooth sensors detect the proximity of customers to shelves and note the time spent by each customer. As a result, retailers get valuable customer preference data and use it in the future to engage more customers.
It’s used for products with better profit margins and limited-time deals. Retailers can also display ads and video testimonials on it.
Electronic shelf labels (ESLs)
These are connected to a central system and can be updated instantly to change prices, removing the need for manual changes.
Robots have also been changing the retail landscape in more than one way. For example, Amazon has a 45,000-strong team of robots working in the warehouses to conveniently fulfill orders. Moreover, Amazon has been using drones for delivery in some areas of the United States and plans to expand the tech to the United Kingdom and Italy by 2024.
The smart retail industry can deploy robots in multiple ways, which we’ll discuss below.
In-store customer services
One of the ways robots are being used in the retail industry is to help customers find goods in stores. People can simply ask the robot or use the touchscreen to find a product. Similarly, they can ask basic customer service questions, removing the need for a human correspondent.
These robots can track inventory in real-time by cruising down the aisles. The information gathered by these robots helps smart retailers identify customers' shopping patterns and determine the best-selling and underperforming merchandise.
Robots for fun interactions
These robots can be programmed to have fun interactions with customers. Moreover, they can play music, dance, and take selfies with customers to make their visits more enjoyable.
These robots have a distinctly industrial look, thanks to a large arm that moves across the aisle to pick products. Customers can use the touch screens to order a product and watch the robot move its massive arm to pick whatever they want. Although primarily used in electronics stores, they can also be deployed in multiple other stores due to their efficient mobility.
Retailers are trying their best to surpass competitors in a digital-first world, but it’s not possible with traditional point of sales. Since customers require efficient service at every touchpoint, retailers must embrace this smart retail technology to retain them. Thankfully, the use of mobile POS is increasing, and its market is estimated to hit the $3.30 trillion mark in 2023.
Mobile POS is a smartphone or tablet that allows store staff to cater to customer requests, manage inventory, and perform transactions without staying in one place. In-store associates can use mobile POS to recommend items to people based on their preferences and previous purchases.
With mobile phone's ever-expanding reach, smart retail apps have been changing the shopping landscape. Major retailers have developed their own apps, which include product categories, reward points, deals, current & previous transactions, and much more. According to surveys, around 72% of consumers prefer retail apps as they make shopping easier for them.
Besides that, here are some reasons why every retailer needs a dedicated app in 2023:
Customer data is invaluable for brands, providing insights that can take a brand far ahead of its rivals. In-depth data analytics is necessary to improve user interaction and give customers a more personalized experience. It also ensures that a brand isn’t hypothesizing about customer choices and is actually providing them with what they want.
Mobile apps also provide an excellent platform for running loyalty programs. Brands can reward customers for recommending them to others and keep track of them through the app. Customers who use the app regularly can be rewarded with discounts and special deals.
These are also known as magic mirrors. These are powered by artificial intelligence and display digital information about products, deals, social media feeds, and whatnot. Smart mirrors are connected to the internet and bring instant information to customers, taking their shopping experience to the next level. Reports suggest that the global smart retail mirror market will reach $5.58 billion in the next four years, indicating its huge potential in the smart retail sector.
Smart mirrors also have voice recognition, which lets users interact with them seamlessly. As a result, customers can glide through several product categories, filtering offers and making purchases. They offer a time-saving shopping solution by allowing customers to try a product virtually and decide whether it’s worth their money. Smart mirrors have come a long way and now allow customers a virtual try-on option. They take measurements of a person through the built-in cameras and automatically display all the outfits that suit or fit their body. For maximum satisfaction, customers get a 360° view to know what they’re getting actually works for them.
According to a report, 53% of US customers use digital wallets, making them a majority. A digital wallet is an application accessible from any smart device that can be used to perform transactions. Some popular examples are Google Play, Apple Pay, and PayPal. Despite their popularity, many retailers still don’t provide digital payment options, which is costly. However, using them can give brands an edge over their competition in the following ways:
Checkout is the spot that most retailers ignore, but many customers abandon their carts at that point. A primary reason behind it is checkout friction, which means asking too many details of customers. Typing payment and other information on a smartphone can be a frustrating experience, leading to cart abandonment. Smart retailers can tackle that by allowing customers to pay using digital wallets. Since all the details are saved in the app, consumers don’t need to type them down every time to make a transaction, removing the checkout friction entirely.
Credit card payments have to pass several checks these days before final authentication. While customers like this scrutiny, sometimes it asks too many things, which can get frustrating. Smart retailers can get around this roadblock by offering digital wallet payments while maintaining robust data security. Digital wallets have an authentication methodology that ensures minimal fraud, such as fingerprints, face recognition, and more.
The digital transformation in the retail industry is here to stay. Brands must catch up and embrace technologies to help them compete in an unforgiving market. As discussed, intelligent screens, shelves, robots, and more can take a brand’s standing to the next level if deployed effectively. However, smart retailers can adopt the best digitization solutions by partnering with a company like Apptension. We are one of the leading names offering everything from web development to product design. With 12 years of experience, 90 experts, and 338 completed projects, our record speaks for itself.
Contact us today if you also want to step into the digital world and take your smart retail store to the next level.