Retail Trends: leveraging technology to improve the retail experience

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are here - a phenomenon that started in the US and which UK and European customers now also enjoy. This year’s prediction is rather positive as consumers wait for price reductions for their shopping due to the current cost-of-living crisis. It is also expected that shopping habits may shift slightly, and retailers will have to increase their appeal through discounts, loyalty schemes, personalisation or the convenience of delivery and payment.

With all of this in mind, we turned to our retail tech portfolio companies for their predictions for this year and into the future. Here are four of the key trends they came back with:

  1. It’s not about offline or online, it’s about the true omnichannel

It’s no longer a question of in-store OR online – the pandemic has forced retailers of all sizes to embrace the true omnichannel experience.  Retailers must have true visibility across the whole spectrum of their sales channels, if not they will wither away in the new retail reality.

“[Recent] trends like ‘Buy Online, Pick-Up In-Store’ or ‘Buy Online, Return In-Store’ force retailers to start working with more modern store management software. Inventory management is crucial to ensure availability and optimize logistics. The communication between ecommerce, marketplaces and their physical points of sale must be in real time and automatic.’ Miquel Subirats, co-founder, Stockagile

  1. Physical stores are not dead, technology is changing the rules of the game

E-commerce leaders, like Shopify and Stripe, have publicly announced that physical stores bounced back after the pandemic was over. At the same time, a steep increase in costs - due to inflation and the energy crisis - and a shortage in labour in the US and Western Europe have led retailers in search of solutions for their retail stores.

“Technology should allow retailers to either save or make money. The introduction of self-checkout is a key driver to decrease exposure to labour shortage and manage costs. Our app provides shoppers with the ability to self-checkout and pay using just their phone without having to visit any till. On top of that, it shows product recommendations as the shopper is scanning - either based on the items they have in their basket or more personalised if they are a repeat user.” – Mustafa Khanwala, co-founder, MishiPay

Using technology, retailers can also collect data to help calculate ROI and offer a more personalised in-store experiences.

  1. Customer loyalty programs to build personalised offers

What if this data, collected in real-time cold be used to provide more personalised offers. The cost-of-living crisis is making customers more mindful of their purchasing decisions. Customers will not be encouraged to buy from a retailer if all they receive are generic offers that don’t consider their previous purchasing behaviours.

“With just a few data points, such as average order value, basket contents and purchase frequency, retailers can structure individual and specific deals that encourage each customer to buy more, buy higher-margin items or buy more frequently than they would without that deal. Also, consumers expect brands to demonstrate they know them on a personal level, whether it means knowing their tastes, offering something exclusive or communicating through the right channel.” - Javier Fernández, CTO, LoyalGuru

  1. Consider your business needs and leverage scalable technologies

Whether it’s now or in the coming months, retailers need to seriously consider the technology they deploy to entice customers back to their stores (online and offline) and to making those repeat purchases. This does not mean that retailers need to invest in expensive technology, the modern retail tech stack can be easy to implement and cost-effective.

‘Historically, a lot of technology was architected in a way that means the more interactions it received, the more server power was needed to support and keep it running. My biggest advice to retailers is to invest in scalable frontend technologies, like ours, so that they can offer a seamless shopping experience during future sale periods.’ - Barny Darby, co-founder, Hullabalook

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