Digital Technologies and Implications for Retailers
Whether it’s fraud prevention or facial recognition, retailers have never before faced such a proliferation of technology. Today, retailers must be experts around geo-location, mobile apps, mobile wallets, authentication and a slew of other technology-related tools, not to mention have strategies in place to utilize them correctly.
To sort out all of the technology options available to retailers today — and help develop action plans to attract and retain consumers using the tools — Synchrony Financial recently published a retail technology snapshot for retailers. Here are five highlights from the report:
The Internet of Things
The Internet of Things (IoT) is the interconnection of devices embedded in everyday objects (things), enabling them to perform functions or to send and receive data. Due to broadband connections, retailers are deploying and connecting millions of low-cost microdevices and sensors everywhere in the retail environment and in the home. The benefit of IoT for for retailers? It’s more data collected in more places, providing insights into consumer behavior, market trends, buying patterns and customer engagement.
Consumers use video to decide where to shop and what to buy. In addition, video streaming has taken off, particularly among millennials. Using video streaming in a sales context can help retailers answer consumers’ online questions, show products in action, explain products’ chief benefits and/or demonstrate how to use them. More retailers are also using in-store video more often: hardware costs have gone down and the software algorithms are powerful.
A beacon is a small, self-contained device that broadcasts a unique I.D. over Bluetooth to devices listening nearby. In general, they're low-cost, simple devices, but if the right mobile app is developed, they can add dramatic flair to the integration of a brick-and-mortar store and a digital app. Beacons have great implications for retailers, especially in stores. Instead of “showrooming” and ordering an item from a competitor’s website, store associates can interact with consumers on their mobile devices, providing the showroom data as well as targeted deals to make sure the customer walks out with a purchase rather than empty handed, waiting for a shipment from your competitor.
Fashion and function are coming together in exciting new ways, fueling consumers craving for wearable technology. What’s hot? Wearable headsets, smartwatches, fitness devices, healthcare monitoring and bespoke fashion design. Furthermore, wearable technology is promising to change how consumers shop. Retailers should align the shopping experience with growing consumer adoption of wearables in areas such as payments and personalized, real-time marketing.
Biometrics are authentication techniques that rely on measurable physical characteristics that can be automatically checked. Examples of these techniques include fingerprint identification, palm prints or facial recognition. Some retailers are beginning to use this technology for data gathering, customer service and personalization. While it has a way to go before it goes mainstream, biometrics may be an up-and-coming technology to watch.
Melissa Campanelli is Editor-in-Chief of Total Retail. She is an industry veteran, having covered all aspects of retail, tech, digital, e-commerce, and marketing over the past 20 years. Melissa is also the co-founder of the Women in Retail Leadership Circle.