The Candid Voice in Retail Technology: Objective Insights, Pragmatic Advice

What Are The Hot Technologies In Stores?

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If you read our stuff, you know we focus on paying attention to what Retail Winners (those whose sales are outperforming the norm) do differently. There are always lessons to be learned from them, and when it comes to in-store technologies, they don’t disappoint. In fact, when it comes to technologies a customer might interact with, they see more value across the board. Even if that technology (Amazon Go, for example) makes neither business nor financial sense for the average retailer, it doesn’t mean they aren’t eager to learn all they can about it.

Figure 1: Interest Rates Surge


Source: RSR Research, July 2019

Does this increased interest in buzzworthy technologies mean we’re in for an inundation of stores with Amazon Go-esque capabilities in the next 12 months? It does not. But it does indicate a level of awareness and curiosity that are so vital to a winning environment. Quite simply: Winners are keeping an open mind to any idea – no matter how far flung – if it has a chance to bring them closer to their customers.

When the investment and operating costs of such technological wizardry invariably become more feasible with time, Winners will be in a better place to take advantage.

The Money Doesn’t Follow

When it comes to actual investment in such technologies, however, the numbers take a sharp turn. In fact, only a few of the technologies from above earned enough response to be important. The following are the only technologies where any significant investment on the customer-side has been made (Figure 2).

Figure 2: The Short List


Source: RSR Research, July 2019

In a world where the answer to every question about how to engage shoppers seems to be “push more digital content,” retailers are certainly following suit. More than 1 in 2 already have some type of interactive display in stores right now and are happy with the results (up from roughly 1 in 4 last year). But it does beg the question, is this really the best solution long-term? Consumers are rapidly training themselves to solve every problem on their own. The more retailers provide the chance to self-serve, the less reason shoppers have to engage with a brand. And when stores become so commoditized that there really is no reason not to just order from Amazon,com, what’s the point?

We expect to see a lot more engaging technologies (assisted selling, clienteling, wayfinding and location-aware marketing technologies) on the list of things retailers are investing in, but for now, at least, the focus appears to be on helping consumers help themselves: if they are in the store, just help them check out as fast as they can. If they need help? So far the answer is pretty much “just put another screen up.”

We hope you check out the full report. It’s available to everyone free of charge.

 


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Articles & Opinions September 10, 2019
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