Retailers embracing technology in 2018
Friday, January 26, 2018
You aren't the only one making changes in 2018. Your favorite stores are also looking to improve this year, and new technology is at the top of their list.
The National Retail Federation just hosted their annual "NRF 2018 Retail's Big Show" in New York, and the theme of the show was all things tech. Here are some exciting predictions set to revolutionize shopping this year.
Artificial intelligence (AI)
AI is going to become an even bigger player this year. Retailers are learning that through AI they can further customize their customers' experience.
If you've been online and seen that chat box pop up at the bottom of your screen, you've experienced AI. Chabots can help customers from finding items to solving any issues with products, at any time of day.
Levi's has implemented a personal virtual stylist chatbot that helps customers find the right jeans while browsing online. It can suggest everything from the right style, size, fit and possible looks. West Elm has partnered with Pinterest to use AI to study shoppers' tastes from their own pins to help match them with products from West Elm.
Debbie Hauss, editor-in-chief of Retail TouchPoints, says stores "know a focus on personalization will deliver results, and now they need to figure out how to strategically realize that goal." In the Innovation Lab at the NRF show, new technologies featured just how easy it could be for stores to make customers feel like everything is tailored just for them.
Mystor-E is a nod to the traditional mannequin or display one might see in store. "The technology identifies the shopper's gender, height, weight and age" and then uses that data to find clothing and product that is relevant to each individual.
Cristina Ceresoli, SVP of Retail Strategy at NRF, may have summed it up the best: "There is no offline anymore. If you're not using technology to make your consumer experience better, you're not using all the tools and power at your disposal."
We're already familiar with Amazon's dynamic pricing online, but this year brick-and-mortar locations are looking to join the fun.
Kroger is testing a new product called Kroger Edge, which uses digital price tags to display things like price, nutritional info and coupons. This will allow them to simultaneously update prices and run promotions at their stores across the nation, while freeing up employees' time to focus on shoppers.
Easier shopping trips
In the grocery category, we can expect retailers to make efforts to eases the shopping experience for consumers. Amazon Go, a new concept from Amazon, just opened, allowing customers to walk right out with their products. No need for a long line or interaction with employees. They do this through heavy reliance on cameras and sensors, sending a bill after the fact.
Automated grocery carts are also in the works, with companies like Kroger and Target working with startups to roll out the new technology. Their aim is to allow customers to "scan and go" using smartphones and scales to make sure no theft or errors occur.
The main theme is that technology is the key factor in any retailer's success this year. We can expect to see brick-and-mortar and online platforms working harmoniously to stay in pace with their consumers' wants and needs.
Every successful retail company will become a huge technology player, and this impact will change retail drastically this year.
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