The future of retail has been in a state of flux for some time now. Brick and mortar locations were once thought to be a thing of the past, but they’ve been experiencing a resurgence as retailers experiment with new layouts, experiential marketing, and store models. Meanwhile, consumers are demanding for more personalization and a more seamless shopping experience.

What has become abundantly clear is that retail industry leaders, based online and offline, will need to look to new technologies in order to satisfy the customers’ needs. Consumer loyalty is fleeting these days, which puts the onus of creating a perfect shopping experience on retailers.

There has already been a significant amount of investment in customizing the shopping experience with predictive intelligence, but there is going to be a greater push for innovation in 2018.

Here we explore a few of the most popular trends circulating around the retail industry:

1. Internet of Things (IoT)

Retailers need to tap into the IoT resource pool, as more and more of our daily lives become interconnected. IoT has the ability to connect the physical and digital worlds, which could pay off in a major way for the retail industry. The supply chain has become more complex, but leveraging IoT systems will help optimize operations and allow retailers time to adjust to the growing customer demands. Not to mention, a more digitized process will afford sales associates more time to interact with customers and provide a superior experience.

2. Big Data & AI

Many retailers are already taking advantage of predictive intelligence in order to understand their consumers and target their content accordingly, depending on their preferences. But in 2018, they’re poised to take it a step further by incorporating deeper machine learning and improved AI systems. This means retailers will be looking to unify the data they collect from sources like voice search, online shoppers, and purchase behaviour. All of this unified data will result in better customer forecasting, understanding habits and experimenting with new technology like digital dressing rooms.

3. Alternative Checkout

This is going to be an important trend to monitor going forward. Not only does personalization lead to better customer experiences, but innovating your checkout systems will be instrumental to your success. Amazon has already jumped ahead of the pack with their new Amazon Go location in Seattle. The brick and mortar is the first of its kind; customers don’t need to wait for a cashier, instead they can pick their items and exit without any hassle. Customers want an easy check out process, and retailers are listening intently.

4. Mobile Payments

It looks like we’re heading into a wallet-free world, that is, if the technology continues in 2018. Consumers have been constantly frustrated because the current technology has failed to truly bridge the gap between seamless shopping and mobile payments. Going forward, retailers are looking to create greater consistency for their customers, while increasing security measures. Imagine, consumers will one day be able to switch from their mobile wallets to online banking to their digital verification app and back again, all in one seamless process.

5. Retail API

The retail industry is starting to catch on to the revolutionary power of APIs. Uber, Google Maps and Pandora have all benefited from investing in API technology. They’re going to be role models to retailers going forward, as they try to understand how this technology will work within the industry. One thing is certain: while the technology is relatively young in the retail industry, it’s going to give retailers more transparency, increase operational efficiency and shorten their delivery timeframes.

Those within the retail industry that haven’t yet considered any of these emerging trends will need to rethink their marketing and business strategy. Keeping customers satisfied is a top priority if you want to maintain loyalty over an extended period of time. Therefore investing your resources into these technologies will be utmost importance.

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At Seldat Technology Services (STS), we are problem solvers, next-generation thinkers, and efficiency aficionados. Operating at both local and global scales, STS offers comprehensive solutions packages developed by in-house industry experts, tested against real-world scenarios, and designed for the changing supply chain. Learn more about Seldat Technology Services’ retail supply chain solutions and get in touch with our experts today.

By Grace Chi, Product Marketing Manager