Trends and innovations

   With the introduction of online shopping, on-demand delivery, and e-commerce businesses, consumer behavior and preferences have shifted toward an era, dictated by these preferences. Personalisation and individuality are in high demand, causing retailers to turn to disruptive technologies to keep their customers happy and serve them from all angles. One example of retailer’s efforts to motivate people to visit stores is called “just walk out technology”. The concept uses computer vision, deep learning algorithms, and sensor fusion to simplify the shopping experience: walk in, grab items, and walk out. Ultimately, developing technologies along with new customer expectations will deeply impact the retail industry, making tomorrow’s shopping a personalised, faster, and more convenient experience.

Augmented Reality
    One of the more obvious innovation areas that are already being implemented in the retail industry is Augmented Reality. With rising challenges for brick-and-mortar stores due to the emergence of e-commerce, the evolution of traditional stores into showrooms has already begun. Retailers use this novelty to introduce new concepts of interaction with their customers, such as smart dressing rooms, beacons, or AR catalog apps, increasing customer satisfaction and rising sales.
    Augment is one example bringing together the best of both worlds. By connecting on- and offline channels through an augmented reality platform, they are able to create a seamless omnichannel retail experience, already driving engagement and sales for companies like Coca-Cola and L’Oréal.

Virtual Reality
    Transferring virtual reality into very real stores massively increases opportunities for retailers. In the retail industry, VR offers two core cases of application. One is the virtual redesign of a physical store, allowing for optimisation and the creation of a new experience for customers – every time they enter it. The second application area is the virtual demonstration of products. The popularity of apps used by the clothing and cosmetics industry proves its high potential along with a significantly improved shopping experience that, additionally, is very personalised.
    Retail VR is aiming to offer satisfying customer experiences through Virtual Reality. Using this technology, the company builds digital shopping experiences with unlimited possibilities. From simulating the point-of-sale and promotional furniture to in-store activation and a platform that allows retailers to deploy POS and promotional content via a centralised infrastructure - they offer all-in-one solutions.

Artificial Intelligence
    AI makes use of data to understand customer behavior, including individual preferences consequently enabling retailers to anticipate what customers will purchase next and, in some cases, even customise entire web pages. That artificial intelligence has a history of achieving high accuracy rates was famously demonstrated with Target correctly predicting the pregnancy of 23-year-old, even estimating her due date to within a small window. AI is a tool forward-looking retailers use to drive sales. Rumored to eventually replace shopping assistants, the technology drives chatbots and voice-activated shopping devices.
    Equipping vendors with actionable insights based on shelf pictures, Planorama makes use of deep learning algorithms and neural networks. Through incorporating and leveraging AI, their solution “Retail Execution” is capable of analysing and recognising millions of product items.

    A staggering 82% of customers are already consulting their smartphones before finalising a purchase decision, suggesting that mobile will continue its monumental influence in the retail sector. As mobile purchasing is on the rise, retailers not only optimise their websites correspondingly but also add new technologies to their business models, such as AR and VR-enhanced apps or the upgrade of online and mobile payment models, allowing them to accept more payment options thus increasing convenience. Not only increasing convenience but also building brand loyalty is the goal of SplitIt, formerly known as PayItSimple.
    They provide a unique way to make retail purchases by removing a barrier that often stops consumers to finalise a purchase. SplitIt 360° empowers consumers to pay by using their existing credit cards and divide the total cost across as many interest-free payments as they choose, without completing a credit application or qualifying for a new credit line.

Internet of Things
    IoT allows for the gathering of data which further can be analysed to enable more informed decisions with regard to stock control, product placement, and increasing efficiency – gaining a competitive advantage. One example of the application is Radio-frequency identification (RFID) sensor technology which tracks items through the supply chain and keeps an eye on in-store inventory in real-time. Another example are iBeacons, used to send consumers notifications on their smartphones when passing by a store in a pursuit to increase sales.
    WiseShelf deals with one of the main challenges retail faces: product availability on shelves. To tackle this challenge, they developed a solution that is designed to improve stock status visibility via an appliance that is mounted on top of any standard retail shelf. Equipped with dozens of light sensors that detect the light level above them allow for a visual presentation of shelf planogram and can highlight products that need attention or special promotions.

Big Data
    Despite various data sources available, analysing and making sense of them is key for retailers looking to improve their efforts. When done right, the possibilities of big data range from forecasting product demand, optimising the price range (markup and markdown optimisation) to identifying target audiences.
    Indivd strives to generate regular store and customer insights for retailers without accumulating personal records and biometric data. Thanks to a patent-pending behavioral data anonymiser with identification and re-identification capabilities, retail companies obtain a complete view of visitors, locations, and items, as well as don’t cause any personal data security violations.