Take a seat, get comfy and source the good biscuits, because the Reapp team has been busy hunting the upcoming movers and shakers of the retail technology world!
As we continue into 2023, one thing many brands, online and bricks-and-mortar retailers are keeping an eye on is the economic forecast.
Whether you live in London or Barcelona, the world economy is set to be rather rocky over the next year or so, and retail is traditionally among the first industries to experience a slowdown.
Much like switching out your sugar for salt or putting raisins in your chocolate-chip cookies, this is likely to throw a bit of a spanner in the works.
So when it comes to priorities for retailers, especially for those who are still in the long process of recovery from the impact of COVID, it’s important to make sure that building strong foundations doesn’t slow down innovative solutions.
Digital technology is one of the main ways brands and retailers are keeping their fingers on the pulse, ensuring that customer experiences are second-to-none and that their operations are fuelled by industry-leading solutions that go the extra mile.
From AI assistance to virtual fittings, cryptocurrency and big data analytics, any brand worth their salt knows that retail technology trends aren’t just fads – they’re often the key to unlocking true potential.
So settle into this guide with a brew and something to tide you over, as the industry experts from the Reapp team are going to give you that sweet insider scoop on what to expect from retail technology in 2023.
We’ll also touch on:
- A quick overview on retail technology – and why it’s so important
- The tools and tricks that are making our current retail experiences great
- Upcoming retail tech trends to keep your eyes peeled for
- Finding out how Reapp can revolutionise your brand’s operations
- And more!
After all, we’re in the business of working smarter, not harder.
When managing sales channels is already so complicated, retail tech can streamline your offering.
Whether you sell seashells by the sea shore or pick a peck of pickled peppers*, there are plenty of ways in which your brand can be marketed in shops and retailers around the country.
*Try saying that after a shandy or two.
In this post, we’ll look at the ins and outs of the innovative technologies making huge differences to brands and retailers alike, while offering key insights into how your business can put them to good use.
Let’s get into it!
Why is it so important for retailers to invest in technology?
It can be easy to baulk at the thought of advanced technologies, especially when you are focusing business efforts in physical locations rather than online sales.
However, according to Finextra, retail businesses that invested in a digital transformation over the pandemic have fared better in the long run – which is plenty of food for thought in today’s shopping environment.
You’d be forgiven for thinking that technology is a crucial piece of infrastructure for online retailers. In reality, businesses in any part of the retail sector may become more efficient and deliver better customer experiences, potentially leading to increased sales.
And we know that makes everyone happy.
Further along in this research, it was found that those in the retail industry who incorporate tech to improve output will “outgrow and outperform the rest.”
This is particularly the case in the UK where less than half of consumers (49%) say they prefer to shop in stores – one of the lowest markets of all countries surveyed, and well below the global average of 59%.
So, what’s the future of the physical store?
Alright, hold your horses.
Physical brick-and-mortar stores are far from having heard the ol’ death knell, but they certainly need a tech face-lift.
In the UK, shoppers aren’t too keen on VR or other frippery as of yet (more on this later on), but they do want technological solutions that make their in-store journey as seamless as possible.
From the same stock of research, a whopping 41% said they are more likely to shop with retailers that use technology to improve the shopping experience. Which is certainly not to be sniffed at, considering how many people would rather abandon their basket altogether when they can’t pay their way.
The retail industry needs to stay on top of this, and offer a variety of technology to customers across the entire experience, especially if they want to keep their customers close and bank on that loyalty.
It’s clear they are receptive to the greater use of tech, whether in-store or online – it’s just a case of doing it right for your brand, and most importantly, your customer.
How can new retail technology improve customer experiences?
Retail stores are some of the most interesting and varied environments when it comes to people interacting with technology and marketing strategy.
It’s a melting pot of clever thinking, behavioural science and tech – as well as some serious trial and error – which makes it great to test new and exciting solutions.
Technology can help support the following, making it simpler for marketing teams to track results while helping in-house retailing teams easily implement change.
Streamlining systems can enhance the shopping experience
Although customers are keen for a smoother shopping experience, it seems that brands and retailers themselves are struggling to make things simpler for themselves.
On an operations basis, only 21% of UK retailers connect internal systems across the board, leaving payments and inventory/supply chain management to work independently from one another.
With fewer chances of things being blocked, slowed or stagnating in the retail pipeline, businesses can enjoy at least two substantial advantages:
- The flow of data and insights across the entire organisation is improved, helping identify ways to boost operations, provide more insights for data-collation, enhance productivity, and ultimately, get businesses much more bang for their buck.
- Customers say they are more loyal to retailers that enable a clear and easy shopping experience – and connected commerce can provide key glimpses into improving customer interactions. This can be through more efficient processes, or better data insights to deliver a better service.
Digital transformation is essential for progress, growth and investment
Thanks to unified commerce through the use of retail technology, 47% of British retailers say it has improved the following:
- customer experience
- increased sales
- increased customer loyalty
Now that’s music to a brand’s ears.
As we touched on earlier, 2023’s economic climate is set to have customers tightening purse-strings and clamping down on household spending.
That’s why factors such as positive customer experience and brand loyalty will continue to make the difference for retailers, with digital transformation offering a way to enhance existing operations and discover streamlining opportunities throughout.
A business must constantly feed data, insights, and intelligence to all sectors of the company, whether they are customer-facing, marketing, or operations.
This will make sure that any additional tools are used to their full potential, helping make light work of previously tricky jobs such as reporting or field sales operations – while allowing room for scale where possible.
But what’s currently making big money moves in the world of retail? And what have we learned so far?
Current tactics that are boosting retail sales
Sure, Rome wasn’t built in a day.
But if they had these technological advancements, you bet that they would’ve been home for at least tea-time.
Over the past ten years, retail technology has supercharged the way we shop, spend and search for the things we need to live our everyday lives.
For every guilty click and easy card-tap at the check-out, our industry has been working hard to keep up with changing attitudes – with the following tactics having kept a number of businesses and brands afloat following a rocky few financial years.
Omnichannel retailing is fuelled by technology that allows shoppers to seamlessly explore options across, as the name suggests, a number of channels. Whether that’s in-store, online or on mobile, customers love to carry their shopping baskets anywhere – which gives us retailers plenty of chances to optimise how we manage inventory and fulfilment to support this new way of spending.
One of the main pros of omnichannel retailing is that it boils down the best of customer experiences into a few simple taps or clicks. It also offers the public huge convenience – as it can be done from anywhere, at any time – which they are becoming more and more accustomed to.
On the other hand, it also allows us nosy retailers to glean plenty of information about our audience’s shopping habits, giving us crucial insights into customer behaviour and thought-patterns.
Mixed with a quality data tool (like, oh, just as a really rather good example… Reapp?) – any brand can build a detailed view of who their perfect customers are and what they want from their experiences.
And the best part? It’s all handled within a few simple clicks.
It’s almost magic.
Artificial intelligence and Machine Learning
Warning: the robots are here.
But don’t worry, they’re firmly on our side. For now.
From a retailers perspective, AI is the perfect solution for streamlining operations, as its uncanny ability to spot patterns and work towards certain goals make it a valuable tool in any retailer’s box of tricks.
For example, its automation capability combined with a supply chain management feature detects critical low stock levels of best-selling products. It does this by reviewing consumers’ previous purchase patterns and cross-checking it with existing levels – automatically flagging up any issues and redirecting them to another point in the sales funnel if something isn’t available.
This obviously saves time, money and further headaches for both customers and retailers.
AI is also capable of providing insight into audience demand patterns over time, including identifying seasonal trends and estimating peak demand periods for items – helping to supercharge strategies for the upcoming quarter.
Talk about tap happy.
As a generation becomes more and more accustomed to the quick tap and swipe at the check-out, contactless experiences continue to grow in popularity not solely based on speed – but their merits in security.
Nowadays, nine in 10 in-person transactions around the world occur at a store that allows contactless payments, namely because online mobile payments make the whole experience so much easier for staff, retailers and customers alike.
Customer wait times are reduced, checkout times are shortened, and wallets are no longer needed. As a result, customer satisfaction and experience are improved, especially as they shop safe in the knowledge that multiple security layers and dynamic encryption keeps their cash protected.
This is something we expect to see more and more over the course of this year – especially as customers are expected to stretch their precious pennies further.
Upcoming retail tech trends to look out for
The Internet of Things (IoT) in Retail
The internet has come a long way from the ‘Krrrr Aaaaaah Crsssssh’ of dial-up (how’d you like our impression?) – and is actually set to help retailers improve supply chains, delivery capability and product visibility.
IoT devices such as beacons, sensors and RFID tags can provide real-time data about inventory levels, store traffic, and customer behaviour. Tightly interlinked with GPS technologies, this trend could help brands and retailers accurately track their goods throughout the sales pipeline. Therefore, it allows retailers to track product movement, conditions and location as well as predict delivery times in advance, speeding up orders and optimising existing processes to create a seriously seamless shopping experience. Phew.
In 2023, there are plenty of rumblings on how it can optimise store layouts, improve inventory management, and enhance customer experience – which is music to our retailing ears.
Cybersecurity in Retail
Technology can be a double-edged sword.
Of course, the security of these transactions and the protection of sensitive credit card information are made possible by a number of advanced methods. That’s why payments made with mobile devices are still considered more secure than those made with EMV chip cards, thanks to new assets such as PINs and biometrics, such as face recognition and thumbprint scanning.
This is still a rapidly growing sector for security and in turn, the retail industry, so we can only expect bigger and better advancements to come in the near future.
Big Data Analytics
Listen, nobody loves big data more than us at Reapp.
So when we saw that this is set to be one of the biggest trends… it honestly wasn’t all that surprising. We’ve been banging pots and pans about it for years, but as investment in technology catches up, we’re starting to see the active benefits and scope in which it can be used in the industry.
Retailers can use big data analytics to provide their customers with personalised shopping experiences and improve their customer service through custom recommendations based on their purchase history.
Market analysis and forecasting trends can all be done with these super-sized data sets, sourced fresh from real-life sales, customer feedback, social media, and website analytics.
But how does one obtain such rich, top-quality data sets and dynamic visualisations?
That’s where we come in.
Working with Reapp to transform your in-store strategies
We’re Reapp, the best thing since sliced bread.
But if sliced bread needed an all-in-one, clever-clogs way for brands to learn about what’s occurring at the shelf edge – then we’d sure be the best thing to happen to it.
Our technology knows no bounds when you need assured facts and figures at your fingertips, helping you create bespoke reports, dynamic visualisations that take your product offering to the next level.
Using over 3 billion units of shelf-fresh data directly from your chosen stores, our software provides incredibly insightful insights into your business operations – whether they’re here, there or everywhere.
Perhaps your goal is to maximise the effectiveness of all of your marketing initiatives? Or maybe you’re on the hunt for advanced image recognition tools to make sure your planograms are being stuck to.
Lucky for you, we have all this and more.
A bit like a Tom-Tom. But we’re all about navigating data, not the G95 Capital Area Loop Expressway.