The retail industry represents an area ripe with possibilities for innovation.
Today’s retailers are looking at every aspect of the pipeline and customer experience to find ways to keep up with the competition, as well as evolving customer behaviors and demands.
There is a long list of categories where innovation has the potential to impact retail businesses.
For example: point-of-sale payment options, Industry 4.0 manufacturing processes, IoT incorporation into high-tech fabrics, and AI along with VR and AR for unique in-store experiences.
In this article, we will look at some of the top tech innovations in retail and how they are impacting the industry.
VR Makes High Fashion More Accessible
Fashion shows are known for being highly exclusive events.
Conventional wisdom says that you have to be a big-time celebrity to land a coveted spot next to the runway, but VR is changing that.
Major labels like Dior, Tommy Hilfiger and Topshop are partnering with VR manufacturers to provide consumers with an immersive runway experience.
You can have a front row spot or peek behind the scenes as make-up artists and designers make last minute adjustments.
By offering this experience at store locations, brands become more accessible and are able to offer a unique customer experience that would draw customers to a brick-and-mortar store.
Sustainability Improves Processes
Nike has long been a leader in creating innovative products, customer experiences and manufacturing processes.
The company is currently looking at ways to use augmented reality and 3D printing to help customers design shoes in real-time, but what is even more exciting is their efforts toward adopting sustainable practices at every step of the product pipeline.
The company is currently on track to meet their goals of creating zero waste by 2020, and running all their facilities on 100% renewable energy by 2025.
Their drive to meet these goals has produced valuable solutions, such as a daylight delivery system, which works to bring more natural light into stores and factories, and intelligently designed manufacturing processes that reduce the number of cuts that need to be made to produce a shoe.
Seeking out sustainable solutions allows Nike to protect their bottom-line, operate more efficiently and continue to be a brand that customers feel good about investing in.
IoT Changes the Shopping Experience
IoT solutions open the door to a broad range of retail innovations.
Smartphones can be turned into virtual in-store shopping devices that can help customers locate products and create a customized experience without having to rely on employees.
Inventory apps and solutions are also being used to reduce waste and ensure accurate stock counts so that both in-store and online customers have a better experience.
The potential for IoT devices and solutions to change the retail environment is limitless.
Frictionless Payment Speeds Up Purchases
Digital banking has changed how we manage our personal finances, and it will soon transform how we make purchases at retail locations.
Businesses are looking for innovative ways to make the payment process as frictionless as possible. That means no more waiting in line, punching in pin numbers or signing receipts.
In fact, the entire point-of-sale experience may become a relic as stores allow customers to authenticate their identity and then be charged when they leave the store.
Endless Innovation Opportunities for Every Retailer
While no industry is immune to the need for innovation, the retail sector provides an especially fruitful area for innovation since it is such a prevalent part of our daily lives.
Nearly any new technology can be leveraged to improve the shopper experience or internal corporate processes.
That makes it an absolute must for retailers to actively identify opportunities for innovation and continue to test and evaluate technologies in order to keep up with big brand competition and customer demands.