Not too long ago, there was a moment where we were convinced that online shopping would completely overshadow retail, leaving traditional storefronts with only two options: Get online or go out of business. Surprisingly, the complete opposite turned out to be the case.
As technology continues to advance in leaps and bounds, once online-only giants such as Amazon are opening up more and more brick-and-mortar stores. Perhaps the fact that consumers still prefer spending money on experiences also plays a role in this unexpected shift. Whatever it is, the future of retail is exciting, so let’s take a look at what to expect.
In-Store Drone Delivery
Wal-Mart recently filed a patent for a system that uses drones to deliver products from the warehouse, straight to the customer who requested it. This is ideal for large storefronts that keep bulk stock locked away in separate areas, as smaller batches of products can be quickly delivered to customers without any need for human input.
With mobile-based scanning solutions such as scan and go, long lines and all the costs associated with traditional checkout kiosks are quickly becoming a thing of the past. Since every customer has a smartphone, all they’ll need to do is download an app and scan the products they want to buy as they walk around the store.
This is not only beneficial to the customer, but also the retailer. Aside from spending less money on the checkout section, stores will have more space for products and allow staff to do more valuable work. Amazon Go stores follow a similar concept, using cameras with scanning technology to detect what you pick up, allowing you to simply shop and walk out.
A mall in China recently started building “husband pods,” where men can relax and zone out to video games in a glass enclosure while their spouse shops away. While it’s admittedly a rather novel and perhaps hilarious solution, it shows significant progress in the number of effort retailers are willing to put into the customer experience.
For as long as they’ve been around, online stores have always reigned supreme when it comes to knowing their customers. Since each customer has their own user profile, it makes it extremely easy to keep track of them and learn their preferences, shopping habits and additional features such as their shoe size.
This makes it easier for retailers to not only market more effectively, but also improve the customer experience by making recommendations that are actually useful. With the rise of technology such as facial recognition, physical retailers can now achieve a similar level of knowledge about their customers.
While this can be disconcerting to some, the benefit is that the retailer will know what you like and why you’re there. In exchange, you’ll be offered personal discounts or free samples on products that you would buy anyway.
These are just some of the impressive innovations that you can soon expect to find at your local retailer. Of course, some predictions tend to become understatements of our capabilities, so only time can truly tell what the retailer of the future will look like.