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Retail Analytics

Retail technology trends to keep an eye on in 2018

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Written by Tony Loxton
Dec 19

2017 has been quite a year, and it’s hard to believe we’re already rounding off the last quarter. So, without further ado, let’s take a look at some of the most significant retail technology trends of 2017, and look at what we can expect in 2018.

Mobility

The advent of smart devices changed the way that consumers interact with retail brands forever. Over the past five years, retailers have tackled this growing demographic of mobile shoppers by providing branded store apps and options for mobile payment, both of which are the subject of continued evolution and innovation. Within the last two years, the use of mobile devices by staff on the shop floor has become common, which has had a significant impact on the in-store shopping experience. Equipping your staff with tablets or other smart devices on the shop floor also makes it easy for them to work across functions to provide the most streamlined experience possible to your customer. For example, sales staff could help shoppers identify the item they’re looking for, determine whether stock is available, and ring up a transaction all from the same device.

With mobile devices having become such an integral part of the modern shopper’s world, the question that retailers need to be concerned with is how to achieve innovation in their use of mobile devices, and how best to manage this new consumer platform. Progressive retailers are adopting Mobile Management Platforms (MMPs) to centralise data and provide visibility into key information throughout the organisation. However, it’s important to bear in mind that you should approach your mobile management strategy from a software-first, rather than a device-first standpoint. Ensure that you’ve given adequate thought to the efficiency of managing and supporting your mobile devices.

AI hits the mainstream

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has certainly been one of 2017’s hottest topics, and we’re finally seeing some practical applications of the technology for retailers. One example is the proliferation of Chatbots on social media pages and websites: many leading online retailers are using Chatbot assistants to field customer enquiries, advise shoppers about other products that may interest them, and provide stock, order and delivery information. This doesn’t just free up your staff to focus on more important matters - in many cases, letting your customers deal with a Chatbot provides a superior customer experience than a real human. Enquiries can be answered much faster, for example, and your chatbots are likely to be far more patient with lengthy or complicated requests than your human staff members.

So, what can we expect from AI in 2018? Well, for one, expect to see many more Chatbot applications for retailers of all sizes. But AI is likely to creep into our lives in more subtle ways, too. Increasingly smart algorithms in CRM software, inventory management systems and more will make it possible to deliver more personalised, more meaningful content and support to shoppers in real-time.

Real-time, in-store inventory management

Many of the world’s leading retailers are investing in real-time, in-store inventory management systems for their benefits to supply chain and stoor floor management, and this trend is likely to see more widespread adoption in 2018. In an elementary sense, real-time inventory management gives you insight into what you have, where it is and how many of them there are at any given time. As the retail sector becomes increasingly digitised, store owners have access to the tools they need to improve inventory management efficiency and gain deeper insights into the way shoppers interact with their shop floors. For example, RFID tags on your inventory items will make it easy to identify when a particular shelf or rail is running low on a certain product size, and alert staff to restock accordingly or gather misplaced items from around the shop floor. Real-time stock lists also make the reordering process much more straightforward, and helps minimise theft on the shop floor, as items leaving the store can be identified immediately.

If you’re looking to take your retail business into the future there couldn’t be a better place to start than with a foot traffic analytics platform. Find more about Blix Traffic, our people counter software, here.

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