Seven Technologies Set to Shape the Next Decade in Retail

2020 will see the rise of experience as a differentiator.

Gartner predicts 81 per cent of all purchases in 2020 will be based on customer experience and this is largely due to the boom of e-commerce. Today, logistical issues of shopping such as lengthy queues, limited opening hours and heavy bags have seemingly vanished. Shoppers are armed with extensive product and pricing knowledge – available through effortless online research – to identify the most desirable products and best deals. But with customer expectations growing exponentially as a result, retailers must also evolve to lead the way through digital innovation and become a ‘brand of the future’. 

As we progress through 2020, retailers need to make sure their customers can seamlessly switch between online and offline channels by tying online marketing to offline actions such as in-store visits and sales. This will require retailers to upgrade their existing digital arsenal with tools that support customer-focused goals across sales, marketing and customer service teams.

The rise of invisible technologies

The way consumers interact with their favourite brands is changing. It is in every retailer’s interest to understand these changing relationships and today, the Internet of Things (IoT) offers unprecedented insight into the consumer journey to help them get the experience right.

With the use of data analytics, the customer journey can be both predicted and personalised. Unifying customer data from every touchpoint and channel enables a single, 360-degree view of changing customer needs.

As retail becomes an increasingly digitised sector, brands will need to leverage emerging technologies strategically so they essentially become invisible. Customers should only see positive results—a company giving them exactly what they want and doing it with ease.

Here are seven technologies every retailer should embrace in 2020:

1. Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Over 20 billion devices are predicted to be connected to the Internet of Things by 2020. As more data is collected, retailers will be among the biggest benefactors of new algorithms coming to the fore to predict trends, anticipate demand and provide the customer with relevant content. 

2. Virtual Reality (VR)

VR offers retailers a fresh and interesting way to meet rising consumer expectations for engagement and experience. Businesses such as Amazon are already using it to take customers on virtual hot air balloon rides or, as IKEA has demonstrated, help customers create a perfectly designed kitchen before buying specific units for their home. Throughout 2020, we can expect to see VR technology become more widely adopted by businesses across the board.

3. Customer Relationship Management (CRM)

An effective CRM solution will be instrumental to understand and engage the customer base in 2020. Managing customer experience with the right digital tools means retailers can stretch the boundaries of marketing and sales, continuously build customer profiles and serve and engage with the customer in many ways.

4. Content Management Systems (CMS)

Optimising branding through a future-proof CMS helps create engaging and personalised web content and puts the business in control of measurable, personalised and experience-driven buyer journeys.

5. Product Information Management (PIM)

A PIM solution makes it faster and easier to create and deliver compelling product experiences. In terms of the customer experience, a well-executed PIM strategy can enrich content offerings through accurate and timely product data.

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6. eCommerce

A reliable e-commerce platform not only provides up-to-date pricing and delivery but has a major part to play in the way customers perceive brands. A mobile-optimised and user-friendly web store enables retailers to react to market opportunities much quicker and present customers with a consistently high level of service.

7. Chatbots

Customers want to talk to businesses in real-time and businesses need to adapt quickly to meet this demand. The latest chatbot technology, based on Natural Language Processing (NLP) software, allows answers to be tailored and sophisticated compared to the stock answers of yesteryear.

Digital transformation ‘do or die’

Getting the digital experience right can make or break a retail business in 2020. If decision-makers are serious about digital transformation in the decade ahead, they need to employ technology strategically, connect teams and optimise the customer journey every step of the way.


About the author

Rebecca Guest is Service Delivery Manager at Columbus UK. Columbus is a global IT services and consulting corporation with more than 2,000 employees serving our customers worldwide. We bring digital transformation into your business and position you to thrive far into the future.

Featured image: ©Zapp2Photo

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