1. Digital Signage Solutions

Eight in 10 customers said they entered the store because they were attracted to digital signage. But in addition to increasing store entry rates, placing digital signage in store windows and throughout the premises can influence customer purchasing decisions, facilitate navigation, and even improve employee communication.

For example, displaying details on a piece of clothing, its materials, and styling techniques on the screen can influence whether shoppers buy it. Digital signage solutions also provide entertainment, and you can share everything from social media updates to news to videos, incorporate retail entertainment trends, and extend your brand into the digital space.

Burberry was one of the first brands to embrace this retail technology trend. Their London flagship store features mirrors that double as digital signage displays. Meanwhile, workers use iPads and RFID-enabled screens that broadcast relevant fashion show footage as products are brought into the fitting room.

Another example is the digital price tag technology Kroger launched in partnership with Microsoft. This retail technology allows price and ingredient information for products to be displayed digitally, and employees can update the data on the fly. The technology claims to impact retailers’ sustainability efforts as it runs on renewable energy.

2. Augmented reality

Augmented reality (AR) solutions have become one of the key retail technology trends to help build consumer relationships and boost sales, and now it is contributing to improved hygiene and safety as stores reopen.

More retailers are offering AR-powered virtual fitting experiences, from previewing furniture to trying on luxury fashion. This retail technology provides customers with a safe and convenient way to shop as they can experience AR in depth from anywhere and through any medium, whether it’s a customer’s PC, mobile device, or in-store kiosk. AR also helps drive conversions. In fact, Shopify recently stated that interactions with products with AR content showed a 94% higher conversion rate than products without AR content.

One retailer embracing retail technology trends and implementing AR is Ulta. The beauty brand uses this innovative retail technology to allow customers to test beauty products by trying out the beauty tool GLAMlab. During the pandemic, the tool has seen a surge in usage and a seven-fold increase in engagement.

3. Conversational business

Another innovative retail technology to watch is conversational commerce, which represents interacting with customers through chat applications or voice technology. With the help of chatbots or personal shopping assistants, customers can get support, ask questions, receive personalized recommendations, read product reviews, and more.

As a result, for many customers, product research, price comparisons, and even purchases are just a few clicks or even a few sentences away. Walmart took this innovative retail technology and developed a voice ordering service, where customers can use Siri or any other voice assistant to add products to their carts, choose a delivery method, and pay online.

4. Internet of Things

IoT continues to make its way into retail and uses different sensors to manage inventory, equipment and utilities.

In addition to using RFID tags to monitor the location of items in stock in the supply chain, IoT sensors can also capture temperature, humidity, and tilt data on items, facilitating better quality control. Retail IoT solutions help to determine if merchandise is being shipped in the proper condition, reducing damage and loss. According to Deloitte, 74% of companies that have implemented IoT for inventory monitoring saw revenue increase between 4% and 10%.

Smart lighting technology, smart thermostats and connected water meters can be used to optimize and even automate utility management. Different types of sensors can be installed throughout stores and warehouses to automatically turn off lighting, lower room temperature when no one is there, and help save energy.

IoT is also helping to speed up order picking by quickly locating warehouse equipment such as trucks and forklifts, and automating operations using warehouse robots, including automated guided vehicles, automated storage and retrieval systems, and collaborative robots.

5. Security Solutions

AI-powered surveillance cameras and other next-generation anti-theft solutions help store security. Installing surveillance cameras throughout the premises and using artificial intelligence algorithms to analyze video content in real time helps retailers detect suspicious and unsafe activity, such as signs of fire and smoke, someone lingering at employee entrances, or someone lying on the ground.

With new retail technologies, retailers can also prevent theft. By placing RFID tags or sensors on items or shopping carts, businesses can track their exact location and be notified of any damage. In turn, biometric authentication and alarm systems can prevent unauthorized personnel from entering high security areas.

6. Ensure social distancing

Technology helps keep customers and employees safe, ensuring they adhere to COVID-19 guidelines and providing expanded measures to prevent the spread of the virus. Stores can perform crowd monitoring with real-time video analytics to quickly detect bottlenecks and queues, and play video and audio messages inside and outside the store to inform existing regulatory requirements.

Indoor cameras with built-in video analytics can also help detect customers with high body temperatures. The thermal imaging camera measures body temperature at a distance of 2 to 4 meters, analyzes the acquired data in real time, and informs store staff. Thermal imaging can also be fixed on turnstiles barrier gates at the entrance. Placing people counting sensors in stores also enables retailers to enforce social distancing measures and take advantage of other benefits such as more efficient staffing and reduced energy costs.

Self-checkout and checkout-free shopping solutions have been very helpful in keeping pandemic safe. Self-checkout kiosks, mobile POS, and solutions like Amazon’s unmanned stores allow customers to pay through mobile apps as they walk out of the store, which helps eliminate queues.

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