And some of the biggest tech trends in retail right now aren’t simply the customer-facing ones but the ones that enable retailers to create a seamless experience for the customer – however they’re shopping.
We previously wrote about the rapid increase in mobile-driven purchasing in 2020, fuelled by the pandemic. In 2021, this trend continued with 82% of Italian online shoppers and 81% of Spanish shoppers making a purchase on their mobile phone during the previous 12 months.
This growth has been fuelled by social shopping – using platforms like Instagram and Facebook to drive purchasing and make it easier for customers to purchase what they see. In fact, in 2021 e-commerce generated via mobile phones was expected to make up 72.9% of all transactions.
Social shopping is evolving at a rapid rate – Instagram’s latest addition to their shopping platform, Drops, lets brands create all the hype of an in-store launch but digitally. Shoppers can sign-up for reminders of launches and products they like, browse all the latest releases and get access to exclusive ranges or limited-time offers.
Creating digital shopping experiences through social channels is carving out new communities of brand supporters with a lot of purchasing power.
The pandemic re-shaped how retailers use their stores and warehouse spaces. Ship from store became essential to fulfilling rapidly increasing e-commerce orders and managing stock became more important than ever to create a seamless customer experience. Knowing what you have, and where you have it, needs to be at your fingertips.
RFID (radio-frequency identification) technology has seen a resurgence during the pandemic as ‘dark stores’, closed retail outlets and large warehouses all worked together to create a fruit salad of fulfilment.
The role of RFID to help integrate your stock levels and locations can’t be underestimated. Not only can it help you to digitally track stock and make the customer buying experience unified but it also has the power to help with your profit margins. McKinsey estimates that it has the potential to unlock up to 5% of your top-line growth and Shopify highlights that other surveys have seen retailers making savings thanks to better stock management and avoidance of stock-outs.
Digitalising your stock management is a trend you can’t ignore in 2022 if you’re prioritising customer experience.
Another technology trend making a comeback in retail is QR codes. Touted as the next big thing for marketing in the mid-2000s, they didn’t quite take off the way people thought they would. Now, however, the humble QR code is the gateway for customers and retailers to join up and shop.
Stores being closed presented a real challenge for both shoppers and retailers during the pandemic. If you wanted something, you had no real way of getting it unless the store had an online shop but, even then, if you had seen something in a shop window but didn’t know the name or product code, then your journey to find it was clunky and disconnected.
This small jewellery store is a fantastic example of how QR codes can be used to unify the customer’s experience. QR codes on the window next to each product mean that customers can shop from their phone even when the store is closed and they can be taken to the product they want, just by scanning the QR code.
QR codes’ comeback is a sign of the importance of blending technology into retail approaches and experiences.
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