The last few years have transformed the retail industry. New customer demands and digital technologies that address them are driving this transformation even further. Smart devices, global pandemics, the rise of social media, and the spread of e-commerce – they’re all impacting the retail sector today.
The world is changing fast, and retailers need to be prepared for anything new happening among their customers. If you run a retail business, you can either keep up with these trends or get left behind, losing your competitive advantage.
So, what’s in store for the retail industry in 2022? Here are 5 most innovative retail solutions and technologies that are already transforming this sector.
Keep on reading to learn how to keep your business in line with the newest trends and win against your competitors.
Table of contents:
- Smart retail – what are the 2022 trends?
- 5 smart retail solutions you must know
- Are you ready to be a smart retailer?
Smart retail – what are the 2022 trends?
Smart retail refers to technologies that represent a new wave of software and hardware solutions designed specifically for the retail sector. Physical store chains and online retailers can use smart tools to deliver a faster, more convenient, and safer shopping experience. Digital tools help them to address rapidly changing customer expectations.
Here’s a short overview of the most powerful trends we see in the retail today space today:
- Revolution in the supply chain – Innovative tools for supply chain management help companies to reduce waste coming from theft or overstock, optimize stock levels and store assets, and increase the revenue per square foot thanks to higher inventory accuracy.
- Personalization – One of the biggest retail trends that will keep going strong in 2022 is personalizing the customer experience. Brands can now offer product recommendations based on a user’s search history, past purchases, demographics, and more relevant data.
- Real-time interactions – The primary value of smart retail solutions is that they allow businesses to use real-time tools like push notifications about new products or smart sensors sending information while customers are shopping in-store.
- Staff optimization – Thanks to smart retail solutions, businesses can automate a lot of tasks and empower their staff to focus on mission-critical activities instead of dedicating their time to manual tasks. This saves money in the long run and increases the productivity and motivation of your teams, ultimately impacting your bottom line.
5 smart retail solutions you must know
Now that you know which trends are inspiring smart retailers to be innovative, let’s take a look at the most important smart retail solutions you need to know in 2022.
1. Internet of Things (IoT)
IoT is a critical technology for smart retail because it enables businesses to connect any electronic devices such as laptops, smartphones, and appliances through software and link them to various sensors that can track practically anything – from the consumer behavior in the store to product inventory tracking.
By using IoT solutions, you can monitor a product from the moment it’s manufactured to when it’s sold in real-time. IoT also opens the doors to analyzing the average shopping cart value, customer in-store habits are, and targeted promotions that will attract repeated sales.
When combined with retail analytics solutions, IoT systems provide a wealth of insights into your customers: their shopping habits, behaviors, preferences, and expectations. This is just one of the many benefits of smart retail.
But IoT also comes in handy in the back office – for example, to help track assets and inventory management. That way, companies can quickly identify where lost or stolen items are thanks to GPS tracking and recover them faster.
2. Artificial intelligence (AI)
Artificial intelligence (AI) is disrupting practically every industry, and retail is no exception. Businesses across all industries use AI-based solutions to automate processes like customer service or product management.
Retailers can take advantage of an AI-powered tool to analyze customer behaviors, expectations, and preferences in real-time by processing massive amounts of data collected from smart points of sales terminals or sensors.
Such a solution not only processes data but also interprets it, giving you a wealth of actionable insights that you can use to increase sales.
Here are two key use cases for AI in retail:
- Optimizing pricing – Businesses are using AI to monitor their competitors’ pricing strategies and adjust their own prices in response. You can use an AI solution to track customer purchases across different locations in a toy store and then offer personalized recommendations just at the right time to boost your conversion rate and inspire customers to make a purchase.
- Predicting demand – An AI solution helps to understand and predict customer behavior using the data points they leave both digitally and offline. By analyzing this data, you can predict which products are going to be popular soon and adjust your inventory. Meeting consumer demand is much easier that way, and you don’t risk having too much stock left over after the sale ends.
3. Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality (AR and VR)
2022 will mark the long-awaited explosion of AR and VR technologies. Enhancing the shopping experience with the help of Virtual or Augmented Reality has been a dream of many retailers. Now these technologies are within their reach.
VR takes the online shopping experience to the next level by allowing customers to enter virtual stores. That way, store managers can give customers the idea of what it feels like to shop in their store and make it exciting.
Then there’s Augmented Reality. A good example of AR is IKEA’s app that allows shoppers to check what a given piece of furniture will look like inside their homes. This increases their confidence while online shopping and reduces the number of returns.
Such solutions are especially valuable if you have brick-and-mortar stores because you can give consumers a taste of the location and products displayed on sale, showing how they might fit into their lifestyles.
Fashion and beauty retailers can gain a lot from AR and VR. You can use AR to help customers try on clothes or makeup styles virtually and see which ones look best on them. The virtual try-on feature increases the accessibility of your products to people with disabilities or consumers who cannot visit the store in person at the time.
Ultimately, AR and VR can make a real difference in how confident customers feel when shopping for your products in-store and online, boosting their loyalty and decreasing the number of returns.
Chatbots often use AI, but they deserve a separate point. Retailers use chatbots not only to carry out customer interactions but also to automate many other processes.
The first kind is the so-called front office chatbots. They improve the productivity of the customer service team, increase the accuracy of responses, and ultimately impact the consumer satisfaction rate.
Another great use case for chatbots is related to the personalization trend. Personalized communications are sought-after today, and chatbots can leverage that trend, learning more about customers over time. This allows them to answer questions and resolve complaints faster.
Chatbots can also be used to monitor the tone of customer service interactions and quickly identify any negative feedback that needs to be addressed. Resolution time matters a lot in customer service. By showing that you’re capable of solving any issue quickly, you show that you care about them and increase their loyalty.
And speaking of customer loyalty…
5. Loyalty applications
Loyalty programs have a great impact on your success when it comes to selling to the existing customer. By offering them a loyalty app that delivers personalized promotions and discounts based on their preferences, you increase their retention and lifetime value.
A loyalty app is a great source of data about customer preferences, interactions with an intelligent point of sale system, or purchase history.
All of this data is crunched and combined together to give you actionable insights and increase the efficiency of your marketing efforts.
Are you ready to be a smart retailer?
Considering all of these innovative smart retail solutions, what exactly is the future of e-commerce – or retail in general? The COVID-19 pandemic had a huge impact on the industry, forcing businesses to adapt to the new customer demands and lockdown regulations quickly. Now they need to maximize their gains in the new reality.
By investing in a smart retail solution, you can stay ahead of the competition, enhance customer experience, and boost practically every stage of the customer lifecycle.
What’s stopping you from trying a digital retail solution in 2022? If you’d like to get the feel of what’s out there and hear professional advice about these solutions, get in touch with us. We have helped many retailers increase their reach and engagement with new digital tools.