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5 predictions on technology trends for 2014 and beyond

The development in technology in retail has greatly effected how merchants engage with customers. Not only has the hardware seriously innovated how people choose to shop, but the software that corresponds with that hardware has also become very advanced. Specifically apps and mobile websites have made it incredibly easy for the consumer to take more control over what they want to purchase and when. For example, you can go into a shop and find an item you like, but for a high price? Use your smartphone with your favourite price comparison app and hey presto, you have found the same item for less and it can be sent to your door in two days or less.

1. Technology will continue to advance and transform the retail space. On one side you have the user interface and innovation side. Smartphones will get smarter, tablets will become more powerful and prominent. Maybe a “smart wallet” will completely take over and your phone/tablet will have all of your info safely stored in it. All with very slick designs and increasingly clever apps. On the other side, what could be called the ‘real’ essence of what will push innovation is the ‘behind the scenes’ improvements and advancements. Order fulfilment software that can send push messages to consumers as items go in short supply. CRM tools that use predictive analysis to tell marketers exactly what offer to present to a customer based on their past behaviour and will produce optimal profit. Automation of behavioural communication, so that when someone makes an order, enters a store, or hasn’t been to a store in a while, a message that fits their needs perfectly is triggered.

Both sides of the coin will be important, but it’s the behind-the-scenes efforts that will ensure that the sexy new tech can meet its full potential.

2. Mobile will continue to affect the future of retail. How important is a device that everyone has in their pocket or handbag 24 hours a day? It’s very important. Smartphones will continue to become better and smarter and more addictive and used by more and more people all over the globe. How will you develop future campaigns to be relevant and engaging for your audience on mobile devices? Accept the fact that mobile will be used at an increased pace. Focus on the quality content that you can provide to that audience and still provide them with a positive experience of your brand.

3. Online and bricks and mortar shops will continue to evolve to serve their audience. Self checkout stands in every store that use your mobile to complete the purchase. Click-to-store service becomes standard as well as day-of-order delivery. Apps that keep track of consumer preferences, tastes and past purchases and then is a dedicated personal shopper for someone as they go into a store (possibly even leading them to the item they need if the store is large and hard to navigate). Order fulfilment software that keeps track of what you have purchased and based on the average time of use will push a notification to your phone with a voucher telling you to drop into a store or order online to refill a product (big for the beauty vertical).

4. Competition will only increase for the attention of your customers, resulting in customer loyalty being of paramount importance. Providing solid customer service and a positive shopping experience will need to be ramped up as expectations get higher and higher.

5. Retailers will try to become more personalised. Personalisation can be a very powerful tool that when used correctly gives the customer a very positive and bespoke experience with a brand. However we’ve all seen personalisation used inappropriately. For example, you buy your two year old niece a birthday gift and for the next six months get emails about dolls, tea party sets and children’s clothes. You made one purchase and now it’s haunting you. This is where smart predictive analysis will need to come into play and will need to be invested in substantially if you want to make truly relevant personalised messages. It should also be said that all brands should tread lightly here and wade into these waters carefully. While some audiences will love and expect personalised attention, other audiences could find it invasive and even offensive.

In summary, the old saying continues to be true: The more things change, the more they stay the same. When we sold products in a big open markets, we grabbed attention by displaying our products in a pleasing way, we had relationships with our customers and helped them find the product they liked. We knew when products were running low and priced them as needed. We put our carts in places we knew people would find us. We may have moved out of the open air market, but the theme of basic marketing and customer service hasn’t changed. We know more about our audience and have more powerful tools to use to attract them. Go back to basics and see it through the customer’s eyes first. If that’s your true north, then you’ll always find your way.

 

By Kestrel Lemen
Marketing Strategist
Bronto Software Europe
www.bronto.co.uk