Retail technology is an exciting and fast-moving sector, with new concepts and capabilities emerging all the time. Even in the first three months of 2017, we’ve seen some interesting innovations creating a buzz in the industry – many of which have been showcased at events like NRF’s BIG Show 2017 and Euroshop.
Here are some of the cutting-edge technologies that have caught our eye so far this year, which could dramatically change the way retailers run their business – and the way they engage with consumers:
Man to machine migration
One big buzzword that has taken centre stage in the first few months of 2017 is machine learning. Technology companies like Blue Yonder and Rubikloud are enabling retailers to transfer data analysis from a manual to an automatic process through machine learning, to monitor and analyse more consumer data than ever before.
Not only that, but machine learning is instrumental to creating a platform for predictive decision-making. By analysing consumer data trends, retailers can make more accurate demand forecasts, to optimise every part of their business from assortment to replenishment.
Robotic store support
One progressive form of digitising the bricks-and-mortar experience that will continue to gain traction in 2017 is the use of robotics in-store. Grassfish has been exploring the capabilities of humanoid robotics, and we were delighted to showcase our Pepper robot on the Umdasch stand at Euroshop 2017.
Pepper has been developed with retail in mind, as he can be deployed alongside store associates to support customer interaction and engagement. While the use of robotics might seem like a novelty now, more and more retailers will be exploring how artificial intelligence (AI) can be deployed alongside skilled staff to enhance the in-store experience.
While personalised, deep dive service will remain the remit of customer-facing employees, robots like Pepper will be able to solve functional queries, such as where items are located. This will increase convenience for the consumer, and free up store associates to focus on more complex enquiries.
The Internet of the Store
The Internet of Things (IOT) really started to gather momentum in the retail sector last year, and this year we are seeing IOT innovations beginning to focus on the store environment.
This was illustrated by LG Innotek, which demonstrated its advanced location tracking solution at Euroshop in early March. By tracing customer movement flow through a store, LG’s solution can be integrated with its other bricks-and-mortar solutions including sensors and LED lighting through IOT, to build connected experiences around shopper behaviour.
Speaking at the show, LG said: "we will continue to introduce products and solutions that are different and competitive, so that customers can shop smart and conveniently, and retailers can manage their stores more efficiently."
Individualising the store
Another interesting technology stream for 2017 are solutions which can personalise not only the customer experience, but the store itself, as retailers increasingly look to optimise the unique format of each bricks-and-mortar location.
Umdasch Shopfitting pioneered some of these technologies at Euroshop 2017, where Grassfish was pleased to feature our Intelligent Store solution as a key Umdasch partner. Creating two-way engagement with customers will become even more important to retailers this year and beyond, and digital signage and interactive applications will become increasingly mainstream in delivering this level of interaction in the physical environment.
Playing into Umdasch’s concept of ‘love analogue, love digital’, retailers will need to find the right technology for their physical environment, to enhance customer engagement whilst still retaining what is unique and compelling about each store.
Find out more about how Grassfish’s Intelligent Store solutions can innovate your retail store through analytics, data, IOT, interactive elements and new technology.