2019 is gearing up to be a big year of new innovations in retail!!
Thousands of people recently descended on New York City as the NRF 2019: Retail’s Big Show kicked off and innovation was, as expected, a hot topic.
Paying close attention and perhaps adopting the latest trends in retail and innovation are more important than ever. Especially after consumer spending was lower than anticipated over Christmas in 2018.
So what are the most important emerging trends in innovation in retail in 2019?
ROBOTS IN STORE
Nicholas Bertram, President of Giant Food Stores, disclosed that their company is implementing a robot named “Marty” in 500 of its stores across the US. Currently, Marty moves around the stores looking for messes on the floor, but the plans are to expand Marty’s responsibilities. A probable early new application will be to scan the shelves as it goes and notify management of out-of-stock items.
The driving purpose of introducing robots to the stores, Bertram emphasised, was not to replace human beings with robots; it is to free people up to focus on the customers.
The concept of Marty and using a robot is to make the store a safer place for customers and to ensure a good customer experience.
The emerging trend of retailers using technology to free store employees from mundane tasks so they can spend more time focused on servicing customers will only increase in 2019.
New innovative technology is now being used to help track what’s missing and misplaced on shelves and better keep inventory in stock. At the Intel booth, Pensa Systems launched an autonomous drone system that uses Intel’s in-store edge servers and computer vision to fly around a store. The drone can scan shelves to see what’s out of stock. It is trained to spot misplaced or missing items on the shelves and can also predict future out-of-stock items based on the placement of items on the shelves.
“The retail shelf is like a black hole,” Pensa Systems president and CEO Richard Schwartz said.“There is no automation knowing what is on the shelf. We are trying to change that.”
MOBILES & IN-STORE EXPERIENCES
The use of mobile devices in stores hasn’t evolved much in recent years – consumers still mainly compare prices, read reviews and research product info on their phones. This is set to change as shoppers are using store locators less and instead are zeroing in on locating products once they’re in the store.
With this in mind, retailers can still find a few points of opportunity with mobile. Among them: delivering frictionless feedback to store associates and the corporate office, real-time monitoring, and supporting self-service.
American Eagle Outfitters and Aila Technologies showcased new interactive fitting room technology, which has been launched in several American Eagle flagship stores. Mounted in each fitting room, Aila’s Interactive Kiosk allows shoppers to scan items on an iOS-based device. Shoppers can immediately see and request other available sizes and styles, receive product recommendations, view running cart totals, and e-mail information to themselves, while store associates receive notifications.
IN-STORE EXPERIENCES USING SAMSUNG TECHNOLOGY
Samsung SDS announced the launch of its Nexshop solution in the HARMAN NYC store. This is a cloud-based analytics dashboard and real-time behavioural sensing technology. It enables retailers to capture customer traffic data to therefore offer a more intelligent and interactive shopping experience.
Currently at the HARMAN store, when a customer tries on a headset in front of a Nexshop-enabled mirror display and camera sensor, the display will launch customised content tailored to the customer’s demographic. Ultimately increasing the customer’s experience with targeted and dynamic content.
The technology also detects customer traffic patterns through heatmap analysis and measures dwell times and footfall, enabling HARMAN to allocate store associates based on customer behaviour.
Forge is a startup and technology platform that plans to change the way people work in retail.
Forge is a talent sharing and flexible scheduling software solution that allows retailers to partner together to share their part-time labour. The main gist – soon retailers and other industries will be working together to pool their hiring efforts to give workers more hours to work and more flexibility in their schedules.
Forge has already signed up 45 malls in the US onto its platform for 2019.
OUR TAKE AWAY…..
With increased online spending, delivering on experience when shoppers actually visit a bricks-and-mortar store is more important than ever. Bricks-and-mortar retail is anything but dead. But retail as we know it has changed. The advancement of technologies and innovation in an increasingly connected world will only continue moving forward and the retail experience needs to evolve with the technologies.
Consumers expect a superior customer experience when they visit a store.
Physical retail stores are no longer only about the distribution of goods. Retail is about building brand equity. Brands such as Vans and Dr. Martens now have stores with no merchandise. They exist for people to socialise and use as a gathering space which ultimately increases their affinity for said brand.
How retailers choose to integrate and embrace the changes, new technologies and innovation will differentiate top players in the ever-dynamic retail industry.