Insight

Five reasons technology is changing everything in retail

It’s clear to see that the digital world is shifting the way we do things not least how we shop. Economic slow down and technological advances are reshaping the landscape. In the new multichannel reality the boundaries between physical and virtual worlds are becoming blurred. Here are 5 reasons why technology is changing the face of retail

1. Superfast Free Wifi and 4G networks

Connectivity speed is enabling behavioural change. We can now source price comparisons and online voucher codes in an instant on our smartphones. This is driving the huge rise in ‘show-rooming’ in physical stores across the country. We try on, assess the fit, feel the quality, price compare, find an offer code with a quick Google search and then make our purchase online. Finally we share our ‘deal’ across social networks spreading the reach and availability at the same superfast pace.

2. eWallet and Pay by phone

eWallet and mobile payments applications are enabling us to ‘checkout’ quickly on the move. Now we can pay on our smartphones and collect points simultaneously. Our shop assistants are being empowered to become more dynamic, no longer pinned to the traditional checkout, and biometric technology is moving at such pace that soon a quick finger touch will pay for our purchases. Barclays new Pingit application enables you to send and receive money to a mobile telephone number. These applications keep us glued to our smartphones needing nothing else to shop.

3. Big Data is getting personal

The data trail we leave is providing a unique view of our lives to the brands we interact with. The more they learn about how we behave, our likes and dislikes, the more they are able to communicate with us meaningfully. The smartest brands are also learning when not to intrude on our lives helping to protect the more ‘special’ personal interactions and brand experiences. Brands are now able to provide not only inspirational but emotional engagement with our lives driving loyalty.

4. Social networks

Inspiration and recommendation have always been most successful through word of mouth. Today our social networks are quickly replacing this. We publish our lives in pictures and sound bites to large numbers of ‘friends’. It’s in real time and affects our purchasing decision through all channels. When we buy we now flaunt it to friends creating the best possible form of brand endorsement.

5. Location based services

Location based services are interrupting our shopping journeys and incentivising us to make a purchase there and then. We can walk through a shopping centre using indoor map technology and be presented with offers that last for a limited time. The offer may arrive from a brand as you walk past their competitor store. We have the power to turn these off however brands who get to know us may gain our trust and change our behaviour.

As mobile technology improves we are increasingly in charge of our shopping experience. Retailers are now redefining their store proposition with changing customer needs. Stores are now becoming brand destinations as an integral part of a multichannel experience.