Whether customers visit your physical store, shop on their mobile phones, or do both, winning business involves holding their interest. And, with shortening attention spans, this interest starts to wane. So, retailers have a few seconds to create engagement.
One solution is to connect and engage customers through technology. In response, retail technology companies continue to evolve with more options for businesses of all sizes. As 2019 nears, here are some of the latest tech options for retail engagement to consider.
AI Expands Across the Service Experience
Although artificial intelligence is already here, next year will bring even more ways to use it within the retail environment. Right now, it’s powering things like heat maps. These maps show where and when customers move around your online store. You can see where engagement is working and what needs improvement.
Soon, there will be more virtual assistants added to stores to help enhance the customer experience. They will make recommendations, direct customers to certain products, and even accept payments. This will be like what chatbots are doing for the online retail experience. In both cases, AI can deliver that instant gratification consumers want.
Augmented Reality Does More
Although it’s also not new, there are different features that make augmented reality more accessible to a larger retail base. This includes new technology from Apple and Google. Both tech giants are adding augmented reality to their mobile operating systems.
Some retailers are using this technology so consumers can see how furniture or decor items would look in an actual home environment. Other retailers can offer augmented reality to beauty shoppers. They can try on makeup to see how they might look without using one of the well-used physical samples that are often available at makeup counters. By better visualizing how products look, consumers can feel more connected to them.
Blockchain Comes to Retail
Blockchain is not only for securing online payments and speeding transaction time. It is also working behind the scenes to increase retail engagement.
For example, customers can identify more information about various products they are considering thanks to the trusted information that blockchain manages and protects for brands and retailers. This information can include nutrition and dietary data, as well as the location of ingredients or materials used in the product.
Biometric Payments are Now Available
Customers want to feel their payment information is more secure. Thus, retailers are investing in a larger array of biometric payment technology. This includes authenticating payments through fingerprint or iris scan.
Consumers Want to Use Their Voice-Activated Assistants
More consumers are using voice-activated shopping and payments. This means retailers will need to integrate connected device transactions into their platforms. Strategies includes accepting orders from digital assistants, such as Amazon’s Alexa and Google Home.
Now, voice can become the main interface between customers and retailers by using artificial intelligence to power it. For example, the digital assistant can work like a hands-free phone call. The retailer connects with the shopper to answer questions and make suggestions. Now, add augmented reality to the experience so the consumer can see what the retailer is talking about. Then, the online shopping experience reaches new heights.
Retailers Can Change In-store Pricing on an Hourly Basis
The ability to continue to update in-store pricing for weekly specials like an online store, adjusting it many times a day can be an incredible way to engage customers. Sensors, digital price tags, and retail software facilitate these price changes.
For example, if there are certain slow times during the day, retailers can leverage technology for instant in-store price adjustments. Then, they can send a text or social media campaign to targeted customers on a localized basis to tempt them into the store. This technology includes item-level sensors that help retailers like grocery stores immediately identify food that has soon-to-be expiring tickets and then mark those items down. In the future, price changes would be synched with customer smartphones to guide shoppers through the store. That way, they could finish tasks that offer less enjoyment, such as grocery shopping, at a much faster rate.
Time to Act on Technology
It’s no longer about price, location, or even brand name. Instead, retailers have to invest in technology to differentiate themselves through a memorable customer experience. There will be more meaning and engagement for a shopper who sees a retailer can address their needs and expectations in new, delightful ways. And, with greater access to these tech options due to more solutions and lower prices, this is the time to act.