Top 5 emerging retail technologies
Every weekday, I compile the best retail and technology news from Twitter into our “we get retail” Daily paper.li newspaper. Through my monitoring, I’ve noticed several technology trends that are poised to shape the retail industry like never before. I have compiled a list of my top five emerging retail technologies:
Tablet PCs are increasingly being used in retail environments to speed up sales. Couple this with mobile payments, and several interesting possibilities arise. Sales staff can help you find a product and ring it in, right on the sales floor, with no need to line up at the cash register. Product you need not in stock? Staff can check inventory levels right then and there, and tell you when the next shipment will arrive. I can see this technology becoming an invaluable customer service tool.
Most of us are already familiar with QR codes: “scan here to go to our website” or “scan here for our coupon of the day”. While QR codes are excellent promotional tools, businesses are also recognizing their benefits after the sale. For example, whirlpool includes QR codes on their dryers that link to animated instructions on the proper installation of vent material. QR codes can be used to provide usage instructions, replacement part numbers, contact information, etc. This customer friendly solution provides yet another way of promoting product entanglement, as well as maintaining brand integrity.
Apple’s passbook is an intriguing offering; it allows customers to electronically collect, store and organize store cards, gift cards, and coupons. Passbook uses the iPhone’s geo-location capability to identify when you’re in a particular store, and load the appropriate card. For example, it will load your Movie gift card when you enter the theatre, presenting it on-screen to be scanned. Aside from its obvious convenience, this technology makes it easy to carry your store loyalty cards (how many times have you signed up for something, but left the card at home?) It’s an interesting product for consumers and retailers alike.
Radio Frequency Identification is another new trend hitting the retail world, and widespread adoption is expected in the next 3-5 years. Inventory is tagged, and can be tracked at any point from warehouse to the storefront. Because locations are tracked in real time, RFID offers retailers unparalleled supply chain accuracy. The completeness of incoming shipments can be quickly assessed, rather than relying on random inspections. Other benefits include prevention of vendor fraud, administrative errors, and employee theft.
Nokia City Lens
Nokia’s City Lens (currently in beta) uses your smartphone camera and augmented reality technology to recognize your location and superimpose relevant information right on your screen. Wave your phone, and City Lens will identify nearby landmarks, restaurants, and shops near you. Imagine – customers wave their phone at your store front, and you are able to see your hours of operation, special sales, reviews, etc. It will provide unparalleled visibility to potential customers. When this takes hold, this could be a boon to retailers, or a bane for those unprepared.
Will these technologies impact the retail industry? What other technologies will be of use to consumers and retailers alike?
Posted on June 19, 2012, in 'We Get Retail' Business Tips, State of the Industry and tagged apple, business, customer service, inventory, Nokia, Passbook, QR code, retail, RFID, tablet, technology. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.