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Retail Evolution – ‘Where it stands Today’

Brands and Retailers have come a long way in the last couple of decades. Modernization in technology at a rapid rate along with the ever-evolving needs and expectations of customers have expedited this retail evolution. Over the years, brick-and-mortar stores have understood the importance of providing a one of a kind in-store experience to customers to remain in contention. Such has been the overwhelming impact of e-commerce on customers ever since its inception.

Shopping might have come across as a strenuous and time-consuming process many years back. But at present, the entire process is rather seamless, convenient, and time saving. Brands and retailers (especially brick-and-mortar) understand the importance of the customers’ time and convenience. A lot of emphasis is laid on increasing the overall customer experience and in-store personalization of the customers. The advent of the internet of things in retail can be considered as another catalyst leading the transformation.

Evolution of Retail

Retail has evolved. Let’s have a look at where it stands today.

Retail Technology – ‘Transformed to a whole new level’

The Internet of Things – ‘Revolutionizing Retail’

The internet of things in retail has been nothing short of an epic revelation. The number of objects connected via network has grown by enormous numbers enabling widespread data transfer. This has allowed retailers to engage with their customers in a more, targeted, personalized, and efficient way. All those years back, customers had to make the effort of travelling to various stores for purchasing the myriad items they needed. Today, IoT enables customers to make purchases automatically with a device like the Amazon Dash Button. Voice automation with devices like the Amazon Echo takes convenience to a whole new level altogether. It’s almost fair to say that IoT enables customers to buy whatever they want, whenever they, and however they want.

The Internet of things in retail has made sure that the number of wearable devices have increased. Retailers now have access to a lot of insight in the form of customer information, buying behavior, etc. They can make use of this data and approach their customers in a more customized way through targeted deals, and personalized offers. These IoT devices have a role to play in brick-and-mortar as well. According an eMarketer study, 80% of shoppers who are fond of wearables would want the devices to enhance the in-store experience.

Video Technology – ‘Further contributing to the Evolution’

The concept of video has achieved widespread acceptance in the retail sphere. Customers have the liberty to be a part of real life product experiences through video streaming, virtual reality and even in-store videos. Customers can watch videos and decide where they want to make their next purchase. It’s also an excellent way to enhance the in-store experience of the customers. The realistic costs behind the deployment of video technology in-store makes it a huge prospect. Technology like ‘Video Facial Recognition’ is being adopted by retailers which helps them decipher the facial emotion or reaction of the customer as they surf through the items in-store.

Proximity Sensors – ‘A Boon for the modern retailer’

The role of proximity sensors cannot be understated. These sensors attached in the store allow retailers to elevate the levels of in-store personalization provided to the customers. Retailers understand the person’s proximity to a certain place in the store and the amount of time he spends there. Through heatmapping, retailers can easily understand the places in-store where the customer has spent the most time, etc. This enables them to send engaging and targeted offers to the customers’ mobiles based on their location through these sensors. Not only does this allow the retailers to connect to the customer at a more evolved and personalized level, but also increases the chances of scoring a conversion.

The Shift in Payment Technology

The payment process can go on to decide how the customer experience has been. This is because this is the last interaction that the customer has with the retailer, and they expect the process to be seamless and hassle free. In-store retailers might be doing a lot of things right, but if the checkout process is slow, time-consuming, and frustrating, it almost neutralizes the overall in-store experience of the customers. Thus, offering a seamless checkout facility to the customers is of the utmost importance to the retailers.

For many years the main modes of payments included cash, debit card, credit card and cheques. Not too long ago was the advent of POS terminals and mobile wallets. This fostered the demand of electronic payments with the use of EMV chips. In the year 2016, the implementation of EMV chips was the top initiative for payments for 73% of retailers (Forrester). Another element of the POS technology that has turned out to be immensely popular is that of mobile payments. The use of mobile wallets has only increased overtime and now has become one of the most popular modes of payment across the world. There has been a certain shift in payment technology over the years.

About Shakuntala Sarkar

Shakuntala is a marketer with 15 years of experience in Marketing Strategies & Operations, Brand Communications, Customer Relationship Management and Corporate Communications. An economics graduate from St Xavier’s college, Kolkata and a IIMC she, has worked across different industries like IT & Retail, with consumer marketing in both B2B and B2C segments. Before joining Tickto, she was the Head of Customer Relationship Management at Spencer’s Retail. Prior to that, she has been a part of the Global Marketing & Communications team of Satyam Computer Services.

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