The world of retail is changing fast. Physical shopping is becoming digitally enabled. Online retailers are opening physical stores. Globalisation means local retailers are being exposed to competition from the world’s best. So where are the opportunities for retail in the future and what technologies will take us there?
Having recently visited the biggest retail show on earth: the National Retailers Federation’s Annual Convention and Expo, held in New York, Telstra retail industry executive Gareth Jude, says Australian retailers need to know about a handful of technologies are set to change the retail environment forever.
The New York retail expo is a must on the calendars of all Australian retailers. It gives you insight into where the opportunities will be in the future, and which technologies will take you there.
The technologies that caused the biggest stir at this year’s show, Jude believes, are enablers of change, agility and growth.
Dealing with data
The first big trend to emerge in 2015 is the proliferation of data sources – whether it’s discovering what your customers are searching for in-store while using your wifi hotspot or tracking how they’re moving throughout the store. Bluetooth connectivity is providing heightened opportunities to engage with customers by offering an enhanced retail experience through downloads of software, offers and product information while they are still in the store.
The future is now, and tiny internet-connected computers can be embedded in everything from running shoes to sunglasses and jewellery. These little computers are collecting all kinds of data on customer location, physical health, interests and preferences, all of which can be integrated into delivering highly targeted marketing.
Digital media is back
No longer just a billboard on rotation, the current generation of digital media features highly interactive displays that operate as engaging vertical billboards, as well as digitised counter displays that open up to a whole new level of sales support.
“Digital media in the retail environment is no longer just moving billboards,” Jude says. “Screens are now being laid flat to create counter displays which interact with products to provide information and sales support.”