From voice-enabled systems to virtual reality (VR), and biometrics to Blockchain, the retail technology innovation agenda has stepped up a gear already in 2018 – and we aren’t even halfway through the year.
Retailers and hospitality companies are riding a wave of technology innovation, but the key to success is finding future-proof, flexible systems with widespread integration capability
A common feature of all the technology gaining traction in the opening six months of 2018 is its flexibility. Be it the operational flexibility it brings organisations, or the flexibility it provides those consumers using it within the shopping process.
Retailers and hospitality companies should be looking at this type of technology, and thinking about the benefits it brings. The way forward for them is in understanding why there is a customer thirst for it, and then delivering their own range of technology solutions to fit the agenda.
New-age Retail Technology
In the case of voice-enabled technology, the benefits for consumers are clear. Whether it’s booking train tickets or ordering ahead for coffee while on the move, the ability to talk to a mobile app and complete such a function in a matter of seconds is the epitome of a flexible solution for those that don’t have time to wait in queues or sit through drawn-out processes in front of a computer screen.
VR’s flexibility, meanwhile, comes in its capacity to allow people to experience a product, a venue or a process even though they aren’t physically where those said products, venues or processes are. In retail or hospitality, it enables brands to connect with customers wherever they are, and in the context of the digital revolution we’ve seen in retail recently this becomes very pertinent.
That is because with all this technology at their fingertips – and with the previously impossible now being made possible – consumers expect businesses they interact with to give them options. No longer can retailers that wish to be successful operate one dimensionally – they need to be doing all they can to serve their customers on multiple channels and cater for a variety of demands.
Flexible and Connected Store Retail Technology
Yes, that drive involves looking at some of this emerging technology such as voice commerce and VR – or technology that brings operational gains like biometrics-enabled staff entry systems or Blockchain-based supply chain platforms. But on a more fundamental level success comes from choosing technology partners that support flexibility.
Retail management software, which allows businesses to seamlessly connect data from store operations with that which is generated through online channels, is the cornerstone of any thriving retail or hospitality business trying to grow in the modern world.
Technology companies offering a suite of solutions that can easily be integrated on one central platform give retailers and other consumer-facing organisations a head start when it comes to serving customers how they want to be served today.
Software businesses with this approach are open and agile, and will inevitably make it easier for businesses who, when the time is right, want to add on extra functionality such as the emerging innovations we’ve discussed in detail.
In 2018 so far, we have seen some great developments in VR, voice tech, Blockchain et al, but the only way retailers will get true benefit from these tools and platforms is if they’ve kitted out their stores and operations with central systems that are flexible in the first place.
Albert Einstein is reported to have said “the measure of intelligence is the ability to change”. Intelligent retailers therefore need to be thinking about flexibility as a base requirement – especially when none of us know what the next great big technology trend around the corner will be.