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    7 Smart Retail Solutions that are Changing Ecommerce

    The retail sector has been in a state of flux for the last decade. The world is changing and it’s hard to keep up with all of the evolutions in today’s society; ecommerce, social media, global pandemics, and smart devices have all had a great impact on the retail sector. One thing is clear: retailers need to evolve, or they will get left behind.

    Here are seven new innovative retail solutions and technologies that will play a significant role in the retail sector, including helping retail chains stay one step ahead of their competition while also providing customers with an enjoyable shopping experience.

    What is Smart Retail?

    Smart retail solutions, or smart retail technologies as they’re also called, are a new breed of software and hardware designed specifically for retail ecommerce. Online retailers and physical store chains can use these tools to provide customers with a faster, more convenient, and safer shopping experience. In addition, they help retailers keep up with the growing demands of customers who have come to expect so much from brands these days.

    Also read: Bad Bots & Online Retail: A Q&A With DataDome

    Benefits of Smart Retail Solutions for Retail Chains

    In today’s market, where customers have access to an abundance of information at their fingertips — thanks primarily to social media platforms — it has become increasingly difficult for traditional brick-and-mortar stores and online merchants alike to attract consumers’ attention. In addition, consumers now want more than just a shopping experience.

    The main benefits of smart retail solutions for retailers include:

    Personalized interactions

    One of the biggest smart retail benefits is that it enables retailers to provide personalized experiences for their customers. This goes beyond basic e-commerce, where brands can offer custom orders or product recommendations based on users’ past purchases and browsing history. Smart retail solutions allow retailers to engage shoppers in real-time by sending push notifications about new products to smart devices while they’re still in store, thus providing them with a customized shopping experience without even having an online presence at all.

    Efficient supply chain

    Another benefit when it comes to supply chain management is that these tools can help merchants reduce waste due to overstock and theft, increase revenue per square foot through better inventory accuracy, optimize stock levels so have fewer “dead” items gathering dust in stock, and improve safety by tracking inventory location.

    Waste reduction

    Smart retail solutions help sellers to track and understand consumer demand for specific items. With this information, they can better predict how much inventory they’ll have on hand at various times of the year, which will allow them to adjust their inventory management accordingly. In addition, they’ll be aware of which goods are going to expire and prepare for it in advance.

    Optimizing staff time

    With smart retail solutions, retailers can have their staff focus on more important tasks instead of being bogged down by manual labor. This not only saves money but also increases productivity which has a positive impact on the bottom line.

    Now that you know some of the benefits let’s dive straight into the seven smart retail solutions that are changing e-commerce.

    IoT (Internet of Things)

    This technology allows retailers to connect any electronic device, such as appliances, cell phones, laptops, and more, via an app or software linked with various sensors that track product inventory and consumer behavior. According to Statista, there will be more than 25.4 billion IoT devices by 2020. With IoT solutions, retailers can monitor everything from when their products sell in real-time and how much shoppers spend on average in-store by using smart POS terminals no matter how busy the location happens to be. They can also keep tabs on customer habits, so they know what kind of promotions will attract repeat business.

    When combined with retail analytics, IoT devices provide retailers with deep insights into their customers’ purchasing habits. They can use this information to manage inventory levels and optimize the supply chain of the retail business as a whole.

    IoT devices can also help prevent theft or loss by tracking store assets and inventory. This technology also enables retailers to quickly locate lost or stolen items with GPS tracking — making it easy to recover their merchandise.

    Also read: How IoT is Shaping ITSM Strategies

    iBeacons

    These devices emit a Bluetooth signal that can be used to track customer behavior and drive sales by sending push-notifications and personalized alerts from the store’s app directly to customers’ smartphones about new products and special offers, based on their location within the store. This technology is relatively inexpensive and can be implemented into any existing retail business without making major renovations.

    Augmented Reality/Virtual Reality (AR/VR)

    These technologies allow retailers to enhance the shopping experience by putting customers right inside their store virtually, giving them an idea of what it would feel like before they even step foot inside. For example, Ikea’s virtual reality app allows shoppers to preview what their furniture will look like in their homes before they purchase it — an experience that makes buying these kinds of products online much more appealing.

    These solutions are beneficial for retailers with physical stores because customers can get a taste for the location itself and see which products are displayed or on sale. With smart retail, customers can also take a virtual tour of the store before they even arrive at their destination — making it easier for them to find what they’re looking for, thus reducing customer frustration.

    Fashion and beauty retailers can also allow customers to try on clothes virtually to see which outfits look best on them before purchasing. Virtual try-on is also beneficial for customers with disabilities or who cannot visit the store in person. At the same time, these solutions can help increase sales and enhance customer experience by offering personalized recommendations based on their preferences and past purchases.

    Artificial Intelligence (AI)

    Retailers use this AI technology to automate certain processes within their business, such as customer service or product management. For example, retailers can use AI to analyze customer behavior and preferences in real-time by crunching large amounts of data collected through intelligent POS terminals and sensors, then interpreting the results, which are often presented as actionable insights for retailers to act upon.

    There are four main areas where AI smart retail solutions are handy:

    • Predicting Demand: AI solutions can track customer behavior on the store’s website, in-store, or social media channels. By analyzing this data, retailers can predict which products will be popular and adjust their inventory accordingly, making it easier to meet consumer demands while avoiding having too much stock left over at the end of a sale period.
    • Optimizing Price: Retailers can also use AI to monitor the prices of competitors’ products and adjust their own accordingly. For example, AI can be used by grocery stores to track customer purchases across different locations, making it easier for them to determine which items should be priced higher or lower based on demand.
    • Product Recommendations: AI can also be used to recommend relevant products and up-sell and cross-sell other items. They rely on customer preference data such as purchase history, location, and time of day, then analyze this information so that retailers can offer personalized recommendations or suggestions at the right time, which boosts conversion rates and encourages more purchases.
    • Predicting Product Sizes: AI can also help retailers determine the right product sizes by analyzing customer interactions on social media. For example, if a retailer sells shoes, it may offer different shoe sizes based on gender and age group,  allowing customers to shop online without trying them on first.

    Front Office Chatbots

    Retailers can now automate specific processes such as customer service through intelligent chatbots. By using front office chatbots, retailers can improve the speed and accuracy of their responses, which in turn boosts consumer satisfaction rates.

    Chatbots also allow companies to personalize communication with customers by learning about them over time, which allows them to answer questions and resolve common complaints faster.

    AI chatbots also allow retailers to monitor the tone of their customer service interactions which helps identify any negative feedback that may need addressing and make it easier to identify critical issues quickly for resolution in real-time.

    Also read: Leveraging Conversational AI to Improve ITOps

    Mobile Point of Sale (POS) and Grab-and-Go Systems 

    Mobile POS solutions enable retailers to process sales transactions anywhere in the store, allowing customers to check out quickly. By using intelligent POS systems, retailers can reduce queues and improve the in-store shopping experience.

    With grab-and-go systems, customers can purchase items without interacting with a cashier. This solution enables retailers to increase customer purchases and decrease time spent in-store while improving transaction accuracy. Amazon GO is one of the best examples of this technology in use.

    Loyalty Apps

    According to a recent study, loyalty programs increase the chances of selling to an existing customer by up to 70%. Retailers can use loyalty apps to boost customer retention and lifetime value by offering personalized promotions and discounts based on previous purchase history or interactions with intelligent POS systems — all of which is achieved through automated marketing and analytics.

    The Future of Ecommerce

    The pandemic lockdown had a massive influence on retail, forcing businesses to adapt quickly or perish. Smart retail solutions offer retailers a wealth of options to stay ahead of the competition. They also provide frictionless transactions and highly customized experiences that today’s consumers desire. These solutions will assist retailers in meeting these demands by making shopping safer and more enjoyable for customers while attracting more customers and driving revenue.

    Read next: How the Shift to Ecommerce Affects Retail Cybersecurity

    Kihara Kimachia
    Kihara Kimachia has been a professional tech writer and digital marketing consultant for more than ten years. He has a great passion for technology and currently works freelance for several leading tech websites.

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