What 2017 Holds for Retail Tech

The upward trajectory of mobile commerce

A 2016 report from digital targeting firm Criteo has as much as half of all retail e‑commerce transactions taking place over multiple devices, and multiple sources confirm that the majority of online sales are happening on mobile devices. This is less a trend than a structural change, and successfully executed omni-channel efforts will keep things seamless as customers discover at point A, compare at point B, and buy at point C. Starbucks’s order-and-pay system means we can pick up our coffee anywhere once we’ve made our morning selection.

The adoption of digital wallets should continue apace. Samsung Pay, Apple Pay and their ilk offer retailers a means to build loyalty. Don Hughes of Kobie Marketing tells CIO that ‘mobile wallets simplify rewards programs and offer opportunities to interact with consumers wherever they go. Retailers can even use these apps to offer time-sensitive and location-based vouchers and deals, which is a great way to surprise and delight customers and incentivise a purchase.’

It’s still about personalisation

We have written a lot about personalisation and location-based technology. Expect to see further and more prevalent instances of geo-fencing, geo-targeting and geo-conquesting as you move around the high street this year. Brick and mortar stores will be applying this tech to send all those customised offers to their customers’ mobiles.

In case we invoked this trio of ‘geo-tools’ too blithely, think of geo-fencing as tripping a wire once you enter or exit the virtual confines of a store, while geo-targeting customises messages depending on where customers find themselves. Geo-conquesting is a bit cheekier: it’s the process of luring shoppers away from competitors with more attractive offers. As hungry people enter a mall’s food court, one Mediterranean kiosk can bet on enticing them away from pizza with a well-timed coupon for 15 per cent off a falafel.

VR and AR

Virtual reality and holograms will inject a good dose of futurism onto shop floors as more retailers adopt virtual changing rooms, where customers try clothes on in the mirror without actually changing clothes.

On the back of the success of Pokémon Go, Caspar Thykier, CEO and co-founder of Zappar, tells Marketing Week about the implications for augmented reality (AR) in 2017: ‘Over the next year, for AR we’re certainly going to see the technology embraced by more retailers and within sectors as diverse as consumer products, packaging, healthcare, architecture and events, alongside media and entertainment.’

Closing the big box

Retail software purveyors Vend explain that as it gets easier to merely point and click at the things we want, we need a better reason to hit the high street for them: ‘Consumers don’t want to waste precious time wandering around the endless aisles of enormous stores anymore. Instead, they want ease and efficiency in the form of smaller stores with specialized selections.’ This often translates to more targeted, curated offerings, and Vend points to big players like Ikea and Target trying their hand at smaller stores that are easier to get your head around.

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