Technological advancements have brought significant changes across sectors over the years and the retail sector is no different. Today, retailers rely heavily on technology for function as well as innovation to buildstickiness with customers and economies of scale.
Even from the perspective of a shopping centre, I can vouch for the fact that a big differentiator for a successful mall is how it leverages technology to build stronger capabilities both with vendors as well as with customers.
Mall retailers and management can now access new software allowing for tracking inventory, pricing and also churning customer data into intelligence to make ourselves more efficient in planning and decision making. This aids us to enable theright retailer mix for increased footfall hence directly impacting our business.
On the other hand, technology is equally enabling innovation for better customer outreach. Customer expectations with the ongoing online retail upsurge are very high. Hence, brick and mortar stores also need to adopt new high-tech solutions to ensure experience weighs over convenience.Many stores today are coming to be termed as smart stores leveraging AR and VR to create unique customer experiences. According Deloitte, over a third of major brand leaders are using AI to improve business. One major AI movement is the development of cashier-less stores. Amazon Go, a fully-automated grocery store in Seattle, eliminates checkout lines and cashiers and has become a futuristic benchmark a lot of brands aspire towards.
Augmented Reality is also finding its way in direct retail from its traditional application for online selling. Retailers are using smart mirrors for people to visualise different clothing, make up and eye ware in stores as well.
Malls across the world are now using technology to engage with visitors. Geofencing is a strategy that has been used by retailers to increase footfall to physical stores. The use of GPS or RFID technology creates a virtual boundary around a particular location, which can trigger a response if a consumer goes in or out of it. This allows the shopping centre at large as well as individual retailers to target customers via their smart devices of real time promotions and targeted deals as they move along the retail space, making the shopping experience more personal.
Wi-Fi capabilities are now almost a given across all shopping centres and add to that custom built apps have created a new means of communicating with customers effectively before and after they leave the mall premise. A virtual walk through, store fi nder, virtual concierge and e-offers all are finding their way in building a deeper connect with shoppers.
The increasing demand for experiential retail coupled with heightened competition in a cluttered retail environment are the key drivers for an increasing demand for new technologies as a differentiator. The retail world is out to use tech solutions in a threesixty-degree manner from an operational as well as a customer centric perspective.
Hence applicability is right from software services to efficient hardware customised to be unique.
The only success factor here is how agile one can be to adopt new technologies and strike the right balance as an Omnichannel retail success.