In a report release September 3rd, Forrester Research highlighted five emerging technologies that retail stores should look at adopting. In today’s shifting sales landscape, new technology can give an early adopter an edge over their competitors.
Using sensors, a retail store could track how customers move throughout the store. If a customer spends time paused in front of a particular product, the proximity sensor could alert a waiting employee that there was someone who might be in need of assistance. Furthermore, proximity sensors could be utilized by larger stores to accurately predict customer flow, ensuring that registers are adequately staffed before long lines develop.
Google Glass and other wearables such as the recently announced Apple Watch are new technologies where customer usage patterns are still largely unknown. However, this technology relies on location aware content, and could prove to be a lucrative avenue for businesses to push content directly to the consumer, or take advantage of NFC chips in merchandise to allow customers easy access to additional information.
Using unobtrusive scanners, Stores could use facial recognition technology to identify customers and employees as they pass through key areas. This technology could also be utilized in advertisements, pulling a customer’s sales history to recommend relevant purchases or even inputing them directly into an interactive ad.
With the increasing popularity of smartphones, it’s not uncommon for a customer to use theirs to research a product before making a purchasing decision. A simple search will often give them far more information than even a detailed product card, including prices for your competitors. Smart countertops or displays will give your customers a fun, unique way to interact with your products.
By using inexpensive NFC chips located on the base of a product, the table would detect what product the customer held to it, and display interactive information about it.
One primary advantage online distributors have over their brick and mortar counterparts is their vastly increased warehouses. This additional space allows them to offer unique products that smaller stores cannot find a cost effective means of housing. A 3D printer will allow stores to build merchandise on demand, significantly increasing their inventory and giving them the ability to offer customer merchandise to their customers.
While current printers are still somewhat limited in their usage, it can build far more than simple plastic trinkets. Print on demand could be particularly profitable for shops that offer replacement parts or custom built furniture (you can learn how here), allowing them to reduce potential overstock, as well as offer solutions for customers seeking parts for out of date products.
The Next Big Thing
The one constant of retail is change. New employees, new products, and new technology all built around serving an ever-evolving customer base. Companies that continue to grow are those that take advantage of trends sooner than their competitors. While these five new fields should prove profitable for the companies that adopt them, the next big advancement is always just a press conference away.