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Tech trends that will affect retail

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by Startacus Admin

retail location based communications

Efe Imoloame
is the Founder of VA, a social commerce app, currently available in London where you and your friends can discover the deals near you and share them with each other. Efe shared his 5 VAemerging tech trends that will affect retail...

In 2011 a venture capitalist in Silicon Valley called Marc Andreessen coined the term ‘Software is Eating the World’. The premise of this article was that the technology required to reinvent an industry worked and was cheap to deploy on a global scale.

This trend has unfolded in industries such as transportation (Uber), Finance (Monzo, Funding Circle & TransferWise) and Food (Deliveroo).

Retail has also been transformed but most of the innovation has happened online. This has led retail e-commerce sales to be projected to be just over 25% of retail sales by 2021.

E-commerce has grown because online retail provides you with a personalized shopping experience, anywhere you are and at any time. This begs the question with all of the innovation going into online stores why are most sales still projected to happen offline? I believe this is because shopping online:

Makes you delay gratification: You cannot use what you have purchased immediately. You have to wait for it to be delivered. This usually takes at least a day. In some cases, it takes weeks. Ask yourself why would People queue for hours outside Apple stores to get the latest iPhone instead of ordering online? This is because the feeling of having it immediately and sometimes before everyone else is worth it to them

retail tech trendsMakes it difficult to use your senses: Ever seen someone in a grocery store pick up a pack of chicken? look at it, drop it and then pick up another. What they are doing is assessing the quality using their sense of sight. This also happens when people go shopping for clothes, they touch the clothes to sense how it feels, they try on different sizes to see how it fits and more importantly how it makes them feel.  This leads them to an informed decision about their purchase.

The reasons stated above make me think that the emerging tech trends across retail, are the ones that will transform the offline shopping experience and put it on par with the online shopping experience. This will create a seamless omnichannel shopping experience the blends the benefits of shopping online and offline together. Thus, concluding the transformation of the entire retail industry as it would have been eaten by software

Here are my 5 emerging tech trends that will affect retail emerging tech trends that will affect retail...

Location based communication

I initially termed this section ‘Location-based marketing’. Then I realised most ‘LBM’ efforts are based on attracting consumers to shops to purchase in item. This is usually done by sending an alert to their phone, posting flyers in the window of shops or posting boards outside the shop. The common theme is that retailer starts the conversation and communication is one-too-many. In the future, I believe consumers and brick and mortar retailers will be able to communicate with each other in real-time. This will be enabled by the smartphone which has a market penetration of 85% in the UK. In an ‘LBC’ world communication takes the form of:

Retailer to Consumer: This happens when retailers want to attract shoppers to their stores. For example, uploading their deals for consumers nearby to see.

Consumer to Retailer: This happens when consumers want information about products in a store. For example, to inquire about whether a business has an item they want in-stock. This form of communication gives businesses more opportunities to build stronger relationships with shoppers.

Consumer to Consumer: This happens when shoppers in an area are sharing information about a business. For example, when a shopper sees a deal, they think is great. They can choose to share with their friends in the area.

For example, VA Commerce is an app where retailers can upload their deals for consumers nearby to see. Consumers can share deals they like with their friends nearby.

QR Codes 

QR codes were first designed in 1994 by the Japanese automotive industry.  QR codes give retailers the opportunity to deliver an omnichannel experience at their brick and mortar shops. They can be used to give consumers the ability to ‘Log In’ to brick and mortar shops. Once a consumer has ‘logged in’ to a shop they can either browse the QR codes and retailaisles to see the products or view them on their phone. Consumers can also use their phones to find out more information about the products e.g. nutritional information, product location

 Self-Service Mobile Apps

Long queues cost retailers up to £12 billion in the UK per year ( This is a lot of lost money for a low-margin industry. Self-service mobile apps could be the answer. A mobile app that allows consumers to simply scan the barcode of their preferred item and pay for it without queueing up.  Self-service mobile apps will just not be about payments, but it would also enable self-service discovery in store. Consumers can use the app to navigate the stores as tech trends that will affect retailwell as get more information about the products in a store. Consumers can also use these apps to claim their loyalty points

Augmented Reality 

This is a piece of technology that can greatly enhance the customer experience for shoppers. Retailers can use augmented reality to help shoppers navigate their stores to find the products’ they need. AR can also be used to create delightful animations that brighten a shoppers day. For example, you could have shoppers come into the store, place their orders and then wait by watching AR animations.

Computer Vision

Computer vision is technology that could either help retail staff do their job better or lead to widespread job loss. I believe this is because the applications of computer vision in retail could range from alerting store assistants about which aisles are running out of items, so they can retrieve new stock. This stops retailers from losing sales. They can also be used to help retailers spot potential shoplifters by identifying people who are not entering all their items at self-service machines and alerting the staff. I consider these to be positive applications. The negative applications could end up eliminating jobs as the use of computer vision for in-store payments e.g. Amazon Go becomes widespread.



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Published on: 30th November 2018

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