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What's Next in Tech for Retail

Neilson recently released their What's Next in Tech report on emerging technology trends and how they will impact consumers. These trends are changing the face of retail as we know it. What's exciting about these trends is how they open up new opportunities for retailers to take advantage of. Here's a quick recap of what the top four of trends mean for retailers.

1. Consumers will trade off price or be willing to pay more for convenience and time-saving benefits. Delivery technology will facilitate the rise of programmatic choice and delivery consumption.

Consumers are more time poor than ever. They work harder and they want to make the most of their free time. So, time is now seen as a currency. The more time and effort you can save them in their shopping experience, the better.

Look at how this is being tackled in the food delivery space. Here, existing businesses are able to get their products delivered to customers, without the need to set up the process themselves, whilst the customer benefits through convenience. Uber has released Uber Eats in main markets. Uber drivers deliver you your food of choice. Deliveroo, a five-year-old company based in London, has raised US$475M from investors to date to do the same.

So, look for ways that make it as easy as possible for customers to buy from you, even if it's just offering free and fast shipping. It doesn’t have to cost the earth.

2. Consumers will be willing to accept and act upon recommendations from smartphones and devices based on their own behavioural data. Recommendation-based purchasing will increase significantly.

Consumers will be more open to being told what to buy, and when. The first step in being able to generate behavioural based recommendations for customers, is adding the customer to a purchase, so you can capture the purchase data across all your customers. A ‘loyalty point’ should no longer be seen as reward for shopping but the currency you pay for getting access to a customer’s data. 

For a customer to identify themselves and give up their data, they need an incentive. That's what points are. Once you have this data, you can start to use it to generate an increase in customer visits and the amount they spend, by recommending what they should buy, based on purchase data across your customer base. 'Other people like you, also bought this product'. Amazon is said to sell 30% of their products through these recommendations.

So, capture data on as many of your transactions as possible and use that data to create highly targeted, relevant and timely recommendations to your customers.

3.       Checkout and payment processes will be in some cases almost eliminated with technologies “capturing” basket data and payment on exit.

Whilst being able to automatically capture what’s in a consumers basket is more important in a supermarket type environment, being able to speed up the process of payment is a real bugbear for a lot of retailers and hospitality operators. Enter mobile wallets, like Apple Wallet. Whilst still needing to take your phone (which research shows you’re more likely to carry than a wallet) out of pocket and hold it to the NFC enabled payment terminal, it’s quicker and simpler than paying with a card or cash. Or for the laziest customer, they can hold their Apple Watch to the terminal (which admittedly, still requires them to move their arm). The other benefit is that these payment devices (usually) carry their loyalty card details, so it also attaches the customer to the sale to capture that all important data again.

So, make sure your checkout and payment process is as frictionless as you can make it.

4.       Some suppliers will use cutting-edge technology purely as brand-building and public relations activities.

Consumers love technology. Look at Apple, it’s the now the most valuable company ever! Showing that you’re a tech savvy business both in-store and online will improve your brand perception. And ultimately it will win you more return customers.

So, look for ways to implement cool, but relevant and useful, technology and showcase it.