With gardener project With global IT spending set to reach $4.5 billion by the end of this year, it’s clear that digital transformation has become a top priority for businesses across multiple industries, including retail. However, a common misconception is that digital transformation begins and ends with the shift to e-commerce in retail. While adding a virtual component to business models helped retailers stay afloat at a time when in-person shopping was either unsafe or not possible, retailers still face major, seemingly insurmountable challenges.
Fortunately, disruptive digital technologies can help retailers overcome these hurdles and eliminate inefficiencies by streamlining staffing and operations, improving employee and customer experiences, increasing ROI and reducing supply chain discrepancies. Yet not all innovative retail solutions are created equal when it comes to modernizing retail business models, and many retailers are embracing striking new technologies without considering the value they bring to customers and employees.
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So which solutions are effectively on the border between modern and effective? In a crowded retail technology market, three solutions are emerging as front runners: smart inventory management, AR-enabled shopping, and smart payments.
Intelligent inventory management
Eliminating gaps in the supply chain has long been an issue for retailers. Thankfully, many companies are turning to it smart shelvesor unique solutions that combine indoor positioning technologies and AI to detect changes in an item’s position and recommend product replacements will reshape the digital shopping and restocking experience.
Implementing smart shelves streamlines supply chain management and provides a deeper insight into the current state of the market. Retailers can track which products sell out fast, which stay on the shelf for weeks, and even how long shoppers hold items before making a purchase. Therefore, these solutions streamline inventory operations and asset monitoring, helping retailers gain insight into customer behavior and forecast trends.
As brands digitally transform their stores to support retail operations, consumers are benefiting too, as emerging technologies like augmented reality improve store navigation, making finding and buying the perfect shirt, perfume or pair of sneakers faster and easier.
Convenient access to AR in the palm of your hand via mobile apps adds an element of gamification to the in-store shopping experience – increasing the fun, enhancing the customer experience and inspiring more personal shopping. As the world continues to move fast, convenience should be at the heart of any omnichannel retail strategy. Adding an AR element to in-store operations can improve brand reputation with consumers and increase customer loyalty.
The implementation of AR-supported purchasing functions also relieves the employees. Like smart shelves, AR minimizes the time spent on low-level tasks like tracking down inventory, allowing staff to focus their time on more important retail functions like building customer relationships and investing in the ever-crucial human element of the shopping experience.
Another way technology, particularly AI, has digitally transformed retail is through smart checkouts. These emerging technology trends allow retailers to serve customers with fewer hands on deck.
In recent years, many companies have struggled to navigate an increasingly unusual job market. Unfortunately, the ongoing labor shortage has destroyed brick-and-mortar businesses more than any other sector of the economy. However, trending technologies like QR codes and palm and face recognition are helping to address these issues in ways we never expected.
Example? Amazon’s Just go outside transforms retail environments by creating innovative shopping experiences powered by computer vision, sensor fusion and deep learning. Smart checkout technologies like Just Walk Out improve personal safety and reduce the time it takes to purchase items, benefiting retail workers and customers alike.
As retailers everywhere adapt their business models to the digital age, technology is finally a top priority in an industry historically characterized as a digital laggard. However, retail executives need to understand that digital transformation goes well beyond the transition to e-commerce. They also need to assess what types of innovations will transform the in-store shopping experience for customers.
Digital retail and virtual shopping will continue to evolve and become more fine-tuned as technological platforms advance. Reassessing your company’s digital strategy and implementing omnichannel platforms has become the solution to staying relevant in today’s retail sector. By adopting these three key technologies, retailers are well-armed on a sure path to successful digital transformation.
— Kevin McCaffrey, CEO and Founder, Tr3Dent.