Here are some brand new retail technologies that will shape the way we shop during the 2015 holiday season—and, if they can engage enough consumers and help the bottom line—well into the future.
Two of the most difficult problems facing mobile payments are security and convenience. A recent MasterCard survey of about 10,000 consumers found that more than a third of online shoppers abandon their purchases after forgetting their passwords. The password problem is one we’re all familiar with, and it presents a huge roadblock to customer conversion.
Coming in to fill the void are mobile biometrics, which scan fingerprints or retinas or faces to quickly and securely determine user identity. The platform already gained traction with last year’s thumbprint-enabled Apple Pay system, and is predicted to secure 65 percent of all mobile commerce transactions by 2020. This holiday season, expect the trend to catch on even more: Samsung just confirmed that they’ll be including fingerprint scanners on future smartphones, and are continuing to expand their Samsung Pay ecosystem. For the password-forgetters among us, the changes can’t come soon enough.
I, Retail Robot
Robots will probably rule the world someday, but for now, they make for surprisingly competent retail employees. This holiday season has seen the birth of new customer service robots like Best Buy’s “Chloe” and Orchard Supply Hardware’s “OSHbot”—which are helping customers with everything from item finding to inventory management. Let’s just hope the people making these things have a firm understanding of Asimov’s three laws.
Channeling the inner socialite
“Omni-channel” is a favorite retail buzzword, but it’s become a sort of catch-all shorthand for the quality of the customer engagement that every business strives for. The phrase is still gaining steam as shopping channels continue to expand. This holiday season, social media networks are building themselves up as channels of their own, with Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook all experimenting with “Buy” buttons that will allow shoppers to purchase directly from within the interface. Like your friend’s new sweater? Soon, you won’t even have to close Instagram to buy one of your own—it’ll look better on you anyway.
Brick-and-mortar… and digital
Although e-commerce websites might have the advantage when it comes to convenience, brick and mortar stores still win when it comes to experience. This holiday season, retailers are looking to make their physical locations even more enticing by leveraging digital technologies that’ll help them personalize their customer experiences.
From smart mirrors that help shoppers compare outfits at department stores like Neiman Marcus, to beacons that market to customers based on proximity to the store, these technologies are making shopping an easier, more enticing experience, while keeping all of its physical appeal intact.
Geolocation, geolocation, geolocation
As it turns out, where you are plays a critical role in determining what you buy. This holiday season, retailers like Walgreens and Macy’s are testing out new geolocation technologies that give customers promotions tailored to their location, quick looks at products in their proximity, and the ability to better navigate their retail surroundings. The tech is lucrative not just because it gives more insight into shopper trends by location, but because it makes the experience more convenient for the consumer as well.
Along with the rest of this year’s big retail tech inventions, geolocation will work best in the retail environment when it makes the customer experience simpler, more relevant, and more delightful.
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