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Thu Mar 25 11:24:52 UTC 2021

How Technology Has Transformed the Retail Industry

It is a well-known fact that e-commerce has changed the way people shop. But does that mean it is the end of the road for retail?

Though there has been a dip in the Retail industry, especially due to the COVID-19 outbreak, your brick and mortar stores are not going away!

The tactile experiences offered by a physical store that allows a customer to see, touch and feel products and take items home immediately make retail stores an integral part of the human shopping experience. Retailers need to restructure their baseline requirements by incorporating technology that can take the customer experience to the next level. 

That being said, below are the top 3 technologies that are adding value to the current retail environment:  

Big Data Analytics in Retail:

Big data analytics in retail is increasingly being adopted by retailers so much that the big data in analytics in the retail market is expected to reach $17.85 billion by 2027, growing at a CAGR of 20.4% from 2020 to 2027.

For brands and retailers, information is also a game-changer. Retailers are adopting the data-first strategy towards understanding buying behaviour of their customers, mapping them to products, and planning marketing strategies to sell their products to register increased profits.

Loyalty programs are one of the most common ways that data is collected in the retail industry. Retailers can use market insights to analyze the shopping and spending by consumers historically to predict future spending and make customized recommendations as more data is gathered. Retailers primarily use these big data analytics tools for forecasting, personalization, marketing, price optimization, merchandising, and other purposes. 

  • Company in Focus: Tesco's

Tesco is the largest grocery retailer in the United Kingdom and has long been a technology and data pioneer. It is one of the first supermarket chains to use a loyalty card system to monitor customer activity.

Using analytics, clustering, and other methods, Tesco was able to discover that the way we thought products hung together and the way we buy products was not the way products behaved. Using this information, the company managed its inventory and catered to customer needs based on fluctuating demand in different seasons. 

IoT In Retail:

IoT is being implemented in retail extensively, right from smart shelves that help revolutionize the way retailers sort their products to self-checkout kiosks that can help customers pay for their purchases without human intervention through digital means.

This widespread adoption of IoT in various applications of retail is expected to increase the IoT in Retail Market size to USD 28.9 Billion by 2026.  

With IoT, retailers can set up a system to read tags on each item when a customer leaves the store. A checkout system would then tally the items up and automatically deduce that cost from the customers' mobile payment app. 

  • Company In Focus: Amazon Go

Amazon's Walk Out technology consists of a network of smart cameras and smart-shelf sensors, which track customers as they move through the store and log the items they purchase. Customers leave the store without having to wait in line and are automatically charged for the items pick via the Amazon Go App.

AR In Retail:

Retailers are turning to AR to help customers digitally test out thousands of products to assist in buying decisions. AR-enabled smart mirrors are increasingly being used as an alternative to try-before-you-buy on virtual clothing fitting. The use of try-on solutions has also seen wider adoption in the form of jewellery stores, wherein customers can virtually try on the clothing and jewellery before they buy.

This increasing application of smart AR mirrors in the retail industry is expected to increase the AR In Retail Market Size USD 4612.7 Million by 2026. Furthermore, AR technology helps create a contact-less, virtual, and 3D product experience at stores. So, the adoption of AR is expected to increase further post-pandemic. 

  • Company In Focus: ZARA

ZARA used exterior window displays and special in-store AR zones to add AR technology to its stores for a limited time. 

Visitors to certain ZARA stores were instructed to stand in a particular area of the store and hold their phone up to a sensor to use it as a lens. Models then emerged, dressed in the latest collections of the fashion retailer and interacting with the environment. This allowed shoppers to get a better sense of how the clothes fit on the body and how they could be styled without having to go into a changing room.

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