As retailers close out 2016, they’re looking well ahead into 2017. As you plan for the New Year, It’s important to take a look at trending retail technology that can help you amp up customer satisfaction and find ways to automate and operate more efficiently. It’s also wise to gauge how many of your competitors may be using new retail technology and the disadvantage it puts your business at if you don’t follow suit.
My five forecasts for the coming year shed light on the trends and issues that will make (or continue to make) a big impact on the retail industry. Here are some retail technology trends to get on your radar for 2017:
- Retailers Will Be Majorly Mobile
Thanks to all of the phone-happy millennials (and their younger Gen Z cohort), mobility will continue to have growing influence in retail technology. Deloitte research shows 43% of consumers between the ages of 25 and 34 purchase products with their smartphones at least once a week.In 2017, retailers will enhance apps and websites to engage shoppers using smartphones, and some will innovate with technologies such as augmented reality and virtual reality to enhance shopping experiences.
- The Smart Store Takes Center Stage
It’s been evolving slowly, but in 2017, physical stores will ramp up their use of retail technology. It’s not technology for technology’s sake; it’s all an effort to create compelling experiences that will entice shoppers to visit the store through an integrated digital store platform.Technology will also enable new retail footprints and formats. With tablets or mobile devices equipped with POS software, virtually any brand can launch a pop-up shop to test geographic demand, launch new products and reach new customers.
- Digital Retail Management Systems Replace POS
As commerce becomes more complex, businesses will need software that can keep up with changing times and that will happen in the form of tightly integrated retail technology such as digital retail management systems beginning to replace the traditional point of sale (POS) system. Retail management systems bring together myriad platforms such as POS, CRM, store inventory and more to create a centralized repository that unifies all of your relevant data. As channels proliferate, it’s no longer sufficient to have standalone systems like POS.
- Connected Retail
As retailers focus on elevating the customer experience, there will be a big uptick in businesses embracing connected retail, which helps to “connect the dots” between the many touchpoints that mark the shopping journey today. It’s no longer enough just to deploy state-of-the-art retail technology — now the focus is on making the myriad systems work together to share data seamlessly, creating a single view of the customer and powering shopping experiences — whether online or in store — that surprise and delight.Omnichannel capabilities ease the path for retailers to reach consumers anywhere, any time. At the end of 2016, many retailers are doing just the bare minimum with omnichannel, such as offering buy online, pickup in store (BOPIS). Expect businesses to increase their adoption of advanced retail technology to make true omnichannel happen.
Uber’s influence on consumer behavior cannot be overstated. In 2017, look for that influence to explode, as merchants embrace “Uber” qualities like seamless mobile payments integration; speedy service (same day or even same hour!) and trackable updates; personalization; and an app-centric platform that removes virtually every barrier to buying.
The year 2017 should see retailers will be raising the bar. How about you?