Business development 16 January 2018

Top five retail technology trends set to emerge in 2018

Woman holding bezel-free / frameless smartphone in hand and chatting with chat bot robot. Chat messages notification on smartphone isolated on blue background
Retailersare starting to streamline communications with customers via online chatbots
Casting his eye over emerging technology trendswhich couldchange the way consumers shop in 2018, Vaughan Rowsell, founder of ePOS software provider Vend, helps small business owners remain competitive in a rapidly moving retail environment.

Weve seen a huge amount of upheaval in the UK retail space over the last year. And as retail evolves so does technology to better help retailers compete, and grow with the modern shopper. We see big things also coming for 2018. Like robots, in-home services and QR codes (yes really).

Here are five trends that I think will have the biggest impact on the retail industry in 2018.

  1. Retailers will increasingly rely on robots (but not as you know them)

While we may not see many robots talking to shoppers on the shop floor, we do expect bots to play a bigger role in supporting retail operations. One example is fulfilment centres. Companies such as Amazon are investing in robots to help pack and ship items.

Many technology providers are already working on integrating artificial intelligence into their back-end systems, which will provide retailers with real-time tips and advice on how to run their business based on their current sales data.

Well also see more online, in the form of chatbots. According to Ubisend’s 2017 Chatbot Report which surveyed 2, 000 consumers: “The majority of consumers are aware of what a chatbot is and over a third want to see more companies using chatbots to answer their questions.

This global trend won’t slow down in 2018. With instant messaging apps such as Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp being a preferred method of contact for many people in the UK, we can expect more retailers to use these platforms to talk to customers and streamline communications.

For instance, if a shopper wants to track their order, they can just ask? the retailer on Messenger, and a chatbot can automatically retrieve the shipment information.

  1. In-home services, delivery, and “chore” shopping will become easier

Consumers no longer want to leave the house to buy unexciting items (like toothpaste). So, what will retailers do to reach these customers? We anticipate many, particularly those selling commodities, will try to engage customers by connecting with them in their homes.

In 2018, the act of buying commodities (i.e. buying things because we have to) will become less of a chore. Players like Amazon and subscription businesses will make shopping for their items easier, through offerings like auto-renewals, one-tap purchases, and same-day delivery. In other words, the chore? or routine component of shopping will become more streamlined.

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Meanwhile, the experiential side of retail the part that involves discovering great products and socialising with others won’t go away. People will still make their way to physical stores because they want to enjoy experiences and find unique items that they won’t find anywhere else.

UK retail is becoming more vibrant and diverse, with more independent stores and artisan products. There’s more carefully curated products to fall in love with and cherish. It has never been easier to run a retail store, and technology is driving this.

  1. Retailers that enable shoppers to build and customise products will prosper


 
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