If you were to think about the retail industry, chances are you’d side with the vast majority of people in believing that the whole shopping experience is going online. The mere idea of physical stores might seem obsolete or, at the very least, antiquated, especially when compared with the convenience of shopping through your own smartphone. However, you’d be dead wrong to assume that physical stores are in decadence.
In fact, recent findings say that 90% of all retail sales in North America are done in physical stores. What’s more, in the next 5 years that percentage is estimated to drop by only 10%. This means that on-store retail still matters even when you are among those that don’t feel that way. Naturally, retail owners aren’t with you. They are paying attention to new consumer trends and are outsourcing development services to use new technologies to redefine the retail experience.
That’s because new tech provides innovative possibilities with which retailers can cater to consumers by offering a more convenient and sophisticated shopping journey that will keep those customers coming back for more. In that context, software development plays a crucial part, as it’s helping reshape stores around the globe.
A new experience for new trends
There’s a powerful reason why retailers are teaming up with software outsourcing companies to come up with new tech features for their stores — there’s plenty to be modernized across the retail industry. That’s especially true when you consider the new consumer trends that are appearing throughout the industry. Some of the most marked ones include:
- Pick up in-store: Even the advocates of online shopping like to touch and feel the things they are buying. That’s why a lot of consumers are taking advantage of the ability to order online to later pick up the item in a real store. This presents both a challenge and an opportunity. First, retailers have to be ready to offer a seamless omnichannel experience where online and offline shopping with their brand is the same. But the trend also gives the opportunity to engage with online customers in a physical setting and entice them to keep buying.
- Ubiquitous kiosks: People are growing accustomed to doing things themselves, even when shopping in retailers. That’s why there’s a rise in the number of automated kiosks that can provide quick solutions for customers without the need for extra staff. Self-service checkout and endless aisle applications are one of the most popular kiosks among customers for a reason — they make the shopping experience fresh, fun, and simple.
- Automated assistance: A technology that’s been on the rise across retailers is more often seen in fashion stores: touchscreens. Almost always located in fitting rooms, they let customers scan items to check prices and inventory, look up for accessories or matching items, search for different colors and styles, and even engage with a sales associate. The idea is to use technology to put new opportunities and solutions at the customer’s fingertips, improving their convenience.
These are some of the biggest trends in retail today, and for a reason. They are taking the shopping experience to a whole new level, where customers have bigger spaces to decide on their purchases while reducing the stress of locating items, knowing more about them, or locating stock. For businesses, these trends present the perfect opportunity to outsource development of tailor-made digital solutions that can address those trends in the most customized and personal way.
Cutting edge technologies to redefine the retail experience
Aside from trends that are mostly a reality by now, retailers are also using different software outsourcing models to hire developers that work with cutting edge technologies. That way, they can use some of the biggest tech advancements of today to further benefit their physical stores. Some of the technologies they are using for that include:
- Augmented reality: One of the most impressive things about this technology is that it can let retailers use their surroundings to showcase things that aren’t even there to their customers. One of the best examples of this is Zara’s use of their stores’ spaces that, when engaged through the retailer’s app, display new collections brought to life on seemingly empty mannequins. Additionally, the app offers more information about the items and even offers to complete the whole style with other items that might work well with the ones being displayed.
- Artificial intelligence, machine learning, and big data science: The combination of these big 3 technologies can offer tons of undetected opportunities for curious retailers. Through them, a company can gather important information about their customers and their buying habits, from sociodemographic factors to particular purchases. Thus, through data analysis and machine learning, the retailers can detect and anticipate potential fluctuations in the demand tied to a particular season, adjust pricing, prevent lack of stock, offer new business opportunities and so much more.
- Mobile development: Mostly everyone that goes into a physical store does so with a smartphone. Retailers can quickly gain an advantage of that fact by using push notifications with special offers for a very limited amount of time or depending on specific consumer actions. For instance, a retailer can offer free Wi-Fi in exchange for certain personal data that can be later used for marketing purposes, or place QR codes throughout the stores to engage with them in more significant ways.
Technology for a more organized retail
Finally, a better retail experience wouldn’t be complete without a significant improvement for the retail owners themselves. Though data science can provide them with suggestions for new business ventures, there are other ways in which software development can help them significantly. That’s especially true when talking about management systems of different areas.
Thus, a retailer can greatly benefit from a centralized system from which to manage the whole shopping process for its customers. In other words, retailers can work with development services to come up with a platform that ties the information from the specific customer to their shopping habits, make suggestions on items of interest, and make them part of a rewards program.
Additionally, the same system could provide access to vital areas, such as inventory management, stock monitoring, and point of sale. The basic goal of using technology for on-store retailers is to enhance the final experience of everyone involved.
That’s why software developers are using all kinds of new technologies to offer new features that don’t just comply with what you imagine as being part of traditional retail shopping experience but also to create the retail experience of the future.