2024 Predictions: 5 Trends That Will Shape the In-Store Shopping Experience
Retail is changing significantly as new technologies pave the way for future shopping experiences free of friction. With the industry projected to witness exponential growth in artificial intelligence (AI), reaching more than $50 billion by 2030 from just over $6 billion in 2022, this year promises to be a pivotal moment in retail’s digitization. Here are five advancements I believe will shape the in-store shopping experience in 2024:
1. Shoppers Interacting With Augmented Reality In-Store
In 2024, augmented reality (AR) is set to redefine the way consumers engage with products. While AR has been used by boutique and higher-end retailers for things like virtual fashion runways and immersive product tutorials, mobile barcode scanners with AR capabilities will take a prominent in-store role this year, with shoppers able to seamlessly scan tags throughout the store using customer-facing apps.
This intuitive interaction will provide instant access to comprehensive product and service information overlaid on shoppers’ screens, which can serve as a personalized shopping guide, accompanying consumers on their decision journey and enhancing the overall shopping experience.
2. Contactless Checkout, Anywhere in the Store
Say goodbye to traditional checkout lines. The rise of smart pay technologies is empowering the retail workforce to bring the checkout line (or lack thereof) to you by using mobile devices or tablets for on-the-spot checkout. Chip-enabled credit cards and contactless payments will enable a swift and hassle-free transaction process anywhere in the store. This not only enhances the efficiency of the checkout process but also aligns with the evolving preferences of today’s tech-savvy consumers.
Some retailers are pulling back on the use of self-checkout stations due to consumers saying they’re inefficient or impersonal, and because they can contribute to higher losses of merchandise from customer errors or theft. Smart pay technologies can be a great solution for those looking to add both convenience and connection to their in-store shopping experiences.
3. Computer Vision Technology Advances Frictionless Retail
We're entering the era of grab-and-go stores. Computer vision (CV) technology is propelling the concept of frictionless retail forward, making grab-and-go stores increasingly prevalent.
CV enables computers and systems to glean meaningful information from digital images, videos or other visual inputs. This innovation allows customers to pick up items and exit the store without the need for a traditional checkout process. As the retail industry continues to adopt these advancements, the frictionless customer experience will become a cornerstone of the modern shopping journey.
4. AI Won’t Replace In-Store Human Workers
Contrary to fears of widespread job displacement, recent Honeywell research reveals that only 7 percent of retailers view AI's primary purpose as reducing human labor. AI and machine learning (ML) can be used in a variety of ways to improve retail operations in conjunction with humans, from personalizing product recommendations and discounts for customers to predicting demand, improving product identification at self-checkout or bettering cycle counting for more accurate inventory information.
In 2024, in-store workers will remain critical and will be further empowered by technology. For example, hands-free, voice-guided technology can help retail associates with day-to-day tasks such as picking, returns processing, gap scanning, and restocking, all while remaining fully available to help customers in need. These types of advancements demonstrate how technology empowers the human workforce to create more efficient and customer-centric retail environments.
5. Continued Focus on Unified Retail — In-Store and Online
Retailers will continue to prioritize creating seamless experiences for shoppers regardless of how they interact with products, whether they see a piece of clothing on social media and try it on in-store or make a purchase from their phone and pick it up at a store location. Unified commerce will remain top-of-mind, and services like click-and-collect using mobile technologies or even smart dressing rooms will enable retailers to take advantage of the best of both the physical and digital worlds.
As we enter 2024, the opportunities for technology to revolutionize the retail landscape are abundant. From AR to contactless checkout and frictionless retail experiences, technology’s role isn't to replace, but to enhance and streamline. This shift promises an improved experience for retailers, associates and customers alike. Embracing these trends will not only define success in the new year, but will also set the stage for the future of retail beyond 2024.
David Barker serves as the president of Honeywell’s Productivity Solutions and Services business. In this role, he oversees industry-leading mobility solutions for warehousing, transportation and logistics, healthcare, retail and other key sectors.
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David Barker serves as the president of Honeywell’s Productivity Solutions and Services business. In this role, he oversees industry-leading mobility solutions for warehousing, transportation and logistics, healthcare, retail and other key sectors. Leading a dedicated team, David focuses on enhancing the safety and productivity of workers and workplaces. Simultaneously, he works towards optimizing the efficiency, accuracy, and reliability of supply chains and assets.
With more than 15 years of experience at Honeywell, David previously held various commercial and technical positions in Honeywell’s Performance Materials and Technologies business. Before joining Honeywell, he occupied senior management roles at Prodieco Limited, a design and engineering company serving the healthcare vertical.