In the world of retail, there’s always room for improvement with customer experience. Most recently this has been done by introducing emerging technology trends into brick-and-mortar stores, such as machine learning, augmented reality devices, and customer-centric artificial intelligence (AI) tools.

These technology trends are helping to bring retail stores into the 21st century and are providing retailers with unique opportunities to garner new customers and breathe new life into their market.

Connected inventory management

For customers, there is nothing worse than going to a store and finding that something on the shelves is out of stock. It makes a shopping trip a disappointing affair, but this can become a thing of the past by integrating Internet of Things (IoT) shelf-monitoring and restocking technology, much like the Levis-Intel® collaboration.

The Intel® inventory management tool is a shelf-monitoring and restocking product which uses a heterogeneous IoT sensor structure, including the innovative Intel® Quark™-based Smart Antenna. It provides product location and movement analytics, allowing for the improvement of inventory accuracy and it supports omnichannel purchases online or pick up in store transactions. This connected inventory management is one of the major emerging technology trends that is helping to reshape brick-and-mortar retail stores.

Take it another step further by easily integrating SMS messaging into the system and it’ll be able to fire off SMS messages when inventory is running low and shelves need to be restocked.

Fantastic news for fashion

Online shopping in the fashion sector has continued to increase in surprising numbers, especially when we consider the fact that you usually need to try clothes on before making a purchase (and that’s including those ‘must-have’ in-store impulse purchases made just after pay-day).

Because of this, solutions to problems such as making the products online more appealing and decreasing the number of returns, have been created with most of them being customer-centric. There are Big Data companies such as Fitizzy and Easysize that have created artificial reality sizing platforms which allow customers to ‘try on’ clothes before they purchase them. These platforms are transforming the world of online fashion shopping and improving the reputation of fashion stores among those who have had problems before.

Personalized recommendations in brick-and-mortar stores

Clicking on an item on a website and seeing a recommendation for a similar or complementary product is common practice in ecommerce, but what if this could be translated into brick-and-mortar stores?

Customers would not have to rely on the (sometimes misguided) recommendations of the staff but could have personalized recommendations shown to them based on data and AI. One example is the Coop Supermarket of the Future in Italy, where customers pick up a product and a motion sensor recognizes it, then shows the customer all the information about the product on an interactive screen, along with other product recommendations. This type of connected technology can be used to create a more customer-centric, tailored shopping experience.

IoT for retail customer experience

The IoT is one of the fastest-rising emerging technology trends and is being used to create a better retail customer experience. This can be done by using strategically placed sensors to gather data on customers, then using this data to offer personalized specials at the point of sale.

Let’s say you put a pair of shoes into your cart that really caught your eye through your favorite retailer’s website. A week later, you head into their physical store and the shoes just happen to be in stock. The retailer then sends an SMS telling you that you can try the shoes on there and offers you a ten-percent-off coupon if you buy them that day. If you decide to buy them, the retailer can offer you an NFC (Near Field Communication) enabled mobile payment, allowing you to walk past the NCF machine on your way out and pay instantly. Carrie Bradshaw would be in shoe-heaven, and so will all customers who are looking for a seamless experience.

Self-checkout solutions

Online checkout process automation has made the procedure quick and painless. But, with brick-and-mortar stores, customers have to stand in queues for long periods of time, waiting for their turn. With the fast-paced nature of today’s world, consumers are expecting more and more from brick-and-mortar retail stores, which means that they want quicker checkout times in-store.

This is changing with emerging technology trends such as self-checkout solutions, like the Rebecca Minkoff QueueHop collaboration. The technology allows customers to have full control over their shopping experience and has made measures to counter theft by re-engineering the security tag to unlock only once a payment has been made via a shopper's phone or a QueueHop self-checkout kiosk. By allowing customers the opportunity to check-out by themselves, stores will be creating a seamless, customer-centric shopping experience.

The beginning of an exciting journey

Emerging technology trends are continuing to pop up on a regular basis, from connected inventory management to ensure that there’s always stock of items in-store, to artificial reality sizing platforms for the perfect fit of a new outfit.

Personalized recommendations will also help to enhance the customer experience, as will process automation platforms like self-checkout tills combined with machine learning. Combining IoT with brick-and-mortar stores will provide shoppers with an exciting new experience and an easier way to pay which will only enhance customer loyalty. We can already see emerging technology trends making their way into the fashion industry, as you’ll find out in our thought piece on SMS campaigns and fashion retail.

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