Technology in the retail sector has been experiencing major enhancements recently. From the early days of the cash register and hand-written sales slips to the computer technology and IOS Systems of today, retailers are adapting with new solutions to marketing and selling problems. Some of the most innovated technologies you can find for retail businesses include voice-activated applications, chatbots to assist with online sales and queries, and the Internet of Things (IoT) — wirelessly connected technology, virtual machine learning assistants, and delivery drones.
Retailers who are modernizing the manner in which they do business will want to focus on providing personalized shopping experiences alongside faster ways to shop. Combine the two and you may have a recipe for greater sales, which in turn fuels more data collection, which fuels machine learning AI software and processes to create a more valuable transaction. Customer loyalty and enhanced reputation are always good for retail companies.
While voice activation may be in its early stages, the potential for growth and improvement is nearly unlimited. Near the front of this technology was Waitrose which began testing a small, highly user-friendly voice activated device which created a shopping list for users that syncs to their smart phones and can be used either online or in store. Amazon has recently debuted Echo, a virtual assistant for shopping and more which originated in the U.S. and is slowly being integrated with operations in the U.K., Austria, and Germany.
These types of voice activated devices provide more than just shopping lists. They answer questions, have the ability to control other connected devices, and can link to other services such as Uber, Spotify, BBC, and more. You can order pizza, request a taxi, shop, and turn your lights on or your thermostat up remotely, among other functions. The devices may enable consumers to speed up their interactions, increasing sales along the way. Where they currently fall short is in the area of the personal experience, where a human in-store interaction is preferred for major or one-time purchases such as a wedding outfit or home theater system.
Voice technology can be useful to consumers who wish to access accounts via telephone. Using voice recognition technology to analyze the caller's voice and ensure it is the correct person, passwords can be done away with and the time listening to menu options can be better spent by the customer completing the transaction. These sorts of technologies, combined with voice activated personal assistants, are sure to continue in popularity in the near future of retail. Convenience and personalization are the two main functions of this new technology. An example of it in action is a kitchen device which can create a shopping list based on the ingredients located inside of a fridge or cupboard, order the items after selecting the customer's favorite or best sales, and have it delivered before you run out of that sugar for baking or cereal for breakfast.
Delivery drones or those used for emergency supply runs will also likely be increasingly common in the near-future. Although regulations for flying drones and challenges related to keeping them away from people, other objects, and out of the flight of aircraft all must be overcome, the benefits will soon catch up to and overtake the risks. Consider using a delivery drone for time-sensitive documents or fresh food delivery rather than a courier, which may be held up in traffic.
People counting is another popular and still evolving technology for retail businesses. Rather than a static counter or keeping staff at strategic places to assist customers and count how many explore each section, a people counting device can monitor unobtrusively. It can also provide information about the demographics of the people browsing each section, how long they spend at an exhibit or display, and more valuable information to help a retailer figure out the most effective way to market and sell to customers. Integrating all of these technologies into a retail store will become an efficient and interactive way of meeting customers’ needs without wasting their time.