Tech-Trends to Drive the Future of Retail in 2019 and Beyond

August 5th 2019
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@ankita-kumariAnkita Kumari

Tech-love. Marketer. Writer. Reader.

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Retailers are always on a hunt for something that can help them connect better with the customers. And, this is the reason why the retail industry has seen such a massive transformation in previous years. 
There was a time when retail was solely dependent on marketing activities to drab customers attention but, things have changed. Now, the retail industry is dependent more on technology. Marketing is obviously important but, tech-oriented marketing is the future of this industry. 
Augmented reality, drone delivery, virtual reality are some of the techs used by modern retailers. These terms create a sci-fi kind of hype among the customers and trigger them to try on products that are being sold. 
So, let’s take a look at what the future of retail looks like and what are some of the latest technologies in the retail sector.

Product Video Catalogs

52% of consumers say that watching product videos makes them feel more confident about going ahead and making a purchase. - Digiday
With a combination of visuals and sound videos stand-out at grabbing the attention of consumers. People are bored with the usual e-commerce product listing which consists of image sliders and description at the end. These can be replaced with a short video which consists of the image as well as the description. This is a better way to showcase the product. And, video creation has become very simple with the upcoming video automation platforms like StoryXpress. Existing e-commerce listings can easily be converted into videos by using the existing images and copy. With this, we see video technology in the retail sector at its very best. You can see many such product videos on target.com.

Virtual Reality

Virtual reality is the use of computer technologies to provide a completely stimulating experience. 
In retail virtual reality is expected to reduce product returns and marketing cost. It is also predicted that it will provide efficient user analytics and data on a particular product. Some of the retail enthusiasts are seeing VR as the future of retail whereas the others think that it is just a trend that will pass by. Another reason why some retailers are interested in the tech is because of hype and sci-fi aspect it brings along which creates enthusiasm in the consumers.
Volvo Reality app is an example to leverage VR for retail marketing and sales. Volvo used Google Cardboard to put up a virtual reality test drive for customers through their mobile phones. This app takes the person inside an SUV and makes them feel like they are sitting in one and driving through various landscapes. Other car companies like Lexus, Jaguar, Ford, are also similarly using VR headsets.

Augmented Reality

Augmented Reality(AR) is a cool tech which enables customers to decide which product suits them better. AR-enabled products are loved by people as it provides them with the option of trying on products without actually visiting the store or wasting money on them. 
Retailers are always on a try to stay ahead of the competition and provide a better shopping experience to their customers and, this is the main reason why more retailers are interested in the tech. Many retailers have already integrated AR-enabled applications and devices. With passing years this technology is becoming bigger and better. 2019 witnessed a lot more brands getting started with the AR technology to provide a better shopping experience to customers.
Gucci is one of the latest luxury brands to start with AR technology. It recently added the AR feature to its application which enables users to ‘try on’ sneakers.
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Gucci’s new <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/AR?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#AR</a> try-on app is pretty cool <a href="https://t.co/Qsq4Oybjsf">https://t.co/Qsq4Oybjsf</a> <a href="https://t.co/ytXqJdQk4E">pic.twitter.com/ytXqJdQk4E</a></p>&mdash; Ricardo (@RicO2O) <a href="https://twitter.com/RicO2O/status/1144538565210079233?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">June 28, 2019</a></blockquote> <script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

Same-day Delivery with pick-up & pack companies

Most of the retail companies are already providing next day delivery but, same-day delivery is becoming the next big thing. It has been observed that people are ready to pay more to get their product delivered faster. This may increase the cost for brands but, it also leads to more sales and gives an edge over competitors who do not provide the service. 
In years we have seen a grown number of delivery companies coming up. These companies act as a personal courier service for the retailers to get their product delivered to the customers. These have grown in popularity specially among the small e-commerce companies as it provides the same-day delivery which otherwise would not have been possible. Some of these companies are Shipito, Shippo, Delhivery which provide same-day product delivery service to their partnered e-commerce companies.
Other than these delivery companies some of the e-commerce giants like Amazon claim to start product delivery via drones to provide same day delivery to its customers.

Chatbots, Assistants & AI

In 2019 and beyond, robots will invade all the online stores. That’s right, chatbots and AI-driven custom shopping experience for better search results according to individual choice and preference.
AI assistants can handle multiple tasks assigned to human beings, all at once. These tasks may include managing inventory and, handling queries related to the product. These digital assistants can carry out various tasks, which will ultimately free-up time so that other important business matters can be taken care of.
Chatbots can fulfill several customer service needs, from answering the common questions about a product to discussing some repetitive issues. Chatbots learn from customer conversations and come up to better assistance for a users personalized shopping experience.
And people are also becoming more comfortable getting answers to their questions from a chatbot or a virtual assistant while shopping. And, adding bots has become easier than ever, there are many tools like HubSpot's Chatbot Builder available which allows bot creation for free.

Just Walk Out Shopping

These stores go by the caption “No Line. No Checkout”. These are super high-tech convenience stores which were introduced by Amazon in the year 2018 as Amazon Go. Customers scan their phone with the Amazon Go app at the entrance of the store and just grab the item they want to buy and leave. They get the receipt on their mobile phones, for which they can make online payments.
This “Just Walk Out” technology by Amazon is powered by sensors, deep learning, and computer vision. This is just an amazing trend which shows how the future of physical retail will be. With already a few operational stores in the US, Amazon thinks of expanding this to other countries as well. Will other retail brands come up with such stores in the future? Well, many retail experts do believe that we might see many such stores coming up.
So, that was all from the latest retail tech’s which we ought to see in 2019 and beyond. But, I am sure that with the current speed of retail expansion and use of technology in the sector we may soon witness something even more astonishing. 
Retail giants are expanding and are constantly trying to improve the shopping experience for customers and I believe that tech will drive the future of retail.

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