SageNet will be exhibiting (booth 2520) at Retail’s Big Show, the National Retail Federation’s 106th annual convention and expo. We’ll be joining more than 33,000 retail industry professionals from 94 countries in New York City to discuss the latest trends, innovations and technological solutions. Here are some of the topics we expect to hear a lot about during the Big Show and throughout 2017.
There are no longer separate channels for in-store, online, mobile, social or any other platform that can be used to buy something. There is a single, unified shopping experience that is seamless, regardless of location, device or payment method. This has been the vision for omnichannel for years, but very few retailers and brands have created a true omnichannel experience.
Many still operate channels separately, with siloed data and inventory management. However, customers view all channels as part of the same experience, which is why “click and collect” (buy online and pick up in store) has gone mainstream and customers show up at stores to return merchandise purchased online. Retail organizations need to integrate all shopping platforms and technology to meet customer expectations, avoid losing sales, and improve operational efficiency.
This isn’t just about making purchases from a smartphone or tablet, and it’s not just about replacing cash registers with iPads. It’s about removing checkout lines from the equation altogether, maintaining real-time visibility into transaction and inventory data, and then automatically pushing promotional offers to the customer.
In 2017, retailers are under pressure to embrace and enhance the mobile shopping experience, make it easier for shoppers to pay for merchandise, and take advantage of upsell and cross-sell opportunities. Mobile capabilities such as one-click purchases or simply scanning a barcode to make a purchase will continue to emerge.
Digital Signage and Video
With the popularity of online video, why don’t you see more video in retail stores? In addition to sharing promotional content, more retailers are expected to use video to entertain and maintain the interest of shoppers. 3-D video walls that don’t require special glasses have recently been introduced, although they could take a while to show up in stores.
Look for digital signage solutions in retail to focus more on direct engagement. Video with interactive, touchscreen technology not only improves the customer experience, but also tracks and reports on that experience, offering valuable insights into customer behavior, interests and loyalty.
To slow the growth of online-only retail giants such as Amazon, brick-and-mortar retailers must offer meaningful, sensory experiences that can’t be replicated online. One way to accomplish this is by using virtual reality applications that allow customers to try on an outfit and get a 360-degree view of how they look in a virtual environment – without changing clothes. Customers can use similar technology to design their dream kitchen or bathroom and try out different options before they make a purchase.
There are a number of technologies that enable a retailer to create a customized experience. There is geo-fencing technology that allows you to send personalized offers to customers when they pull into a parking lot. There are chatbots that use artificial intelligence to solve problems for customers and learn their preferences. There is machine learning, which can process large data volumes to uncover valuable insights and patterns to guide future planning. This is just a small sampling of the tools that can make shopping more personal.
SageNet is watching these trends and helping retailers establish the IT infrastructure needed to support emerging technologies. Meanwhile, we’ll see you at Retail’s Big Show, January 15-17 at the Jacob Javitz Center in New York!