The article was updated on April 19, 2023.
Being expected to exceed 8 trillion dollars in sales by 2026, the retail industry remains one of the most demanded and large industries worldwide. The popularity of retail is the same, but its methods change increasingly faster. Today, retailers come up with creative ideas of using the fruits of technological progress in the form of retail innovations for making shopping experiences convenient and enjoyable.
Each year, increasingly more retail businesses invest in technologies to experience the advantages of using AR, VR, AI, IoT, and other tech concepts. Consequently, the size of the retail digital transformation is continuously growing, being predicted to exceed $134 million by 2028.
These figures showcase how digital transformation is revolutionizing the retail industry, making technological retail solutions a fundamental component of any retail business that wants to be in the consumers’ field of view.
Want to learn how the latest tech in retail is changing the way goods are sold and purchased? Take a look at the best examples of retail technology to get inspired for transforming your business.
During the last decades, technology in retail stores has become an indispensable part of the working process, rather than a unique feature of the largest businesses and industry leaders. It can barely surprise anyone, because the tech industry is known for giving different niches tools to make their companies operate better at different levels.
Arguably the main kind of retail software aims at satisfying consumers’ expectations, that is, polishing their shopping experience to the level of a highly personalized and flawless adventure. These are tools that are utilized at every stage of interaction between customers and businesses, from marketing and customer analysis to improving service and customer retention.
However, digital transformation in retail also allows businesses to increase their operational productivity, namely analyze the market and find effective solutions, as well as, for instance, automate inventory management.
Let’s see how businesses of different scales adopt innovations in retail stores to make their customers come back for a desired shopping experience.
Augmented reality is one of the most popular technologies to achieve multichannel shopping experiences.
Statistics show that no matter how exactly AR is being used in retail, this technology evokes customers’ interest, especially when it comes to younger generations. One of the most often used ways to adopt augmented reality in retail is by offering consumers tools to try on different products before making a purchase decision.
Warby Parker is an eyewear brand that solved the main challenge that every person wearing glasses surely faces, namely choosing suitable frames.
Because every face has its unique form and color, visiting an eyewear store physically has always been an unavoidable step to select the right glasses. Now, thanks to the evolution of AR in retail, consumers can go through the whole shopping journey, from choosing the pair to tracking the delivery, all from the comfort of their home.
Wayfair is an excellent example of a home goods retailer that adopted AR to help customers make a perfect, individualized decision for their place. The company’s app offers an AR tool to visualize furniture and other objects in their natural sizes in users’ rooms.
Wayfair’s customers can choose the perfect piece for their home from millions of items and furnish their rooms with products that fit excellently.
One of the leaders in the beauty industry, L’Oréal has managed to create a platform for a personalized selection of makeup products online. For that, you only need to have a camera and a source of natural light.
Then, you can try on as many products as you want and see how they look on your face without applying and washing them physically. That makes choosing the right shades and textures a matter of minutes.
Together with AR, virtual reality proves to be a solution to many customers’ issues, as well as an innovative tool to expand the opportunities for advertising and selling goods.
In many cases, VR also focuses on the inner working of a business, helping retailers establish cooperation with employers or improve their personal skills.
IKEA is famous for trying to bring personalization to perfection. It designed several platforms and applications that can be used to choose the best options for customers’ homes.
Their VR application is a new retail solution that helps clients visualize IKEA products in their rooms as if it were real. In this case, the immersion offered by virtual reality allows one to fully evaluate each piece in different settings, explore more options, and make a well-considered decision.
IKEA strives to make its customers happy with their purchases and to have no doubt about the chosen items.
Volvo is another company that shows how virtual reality will increase sales in retail. It exploits the possibilities of VR in retail to enhance its marketing campaigns.
What is a proven way to make a person want to buy a car? Just give him or her a try to take a short trip in it. The potential buyers of Volvo cars have an opportunity to drive them through various settings and places. This innovative solution increases customer engagement and establishes loyalty to the brand, which can persuade users to make a purchase.
One of the US retail giants, Walmart, took a step further in implementing virtual reality in the retail business. The corporation adopted this technology for training its staff in different areas, such as technology, empathy, and compliance.
Using VR headsets, Walmart’s associates go through immersive and experience-based training which showed numerous benefits, including a confidence boost and increased retention rates. Additionally, VR training is a great option for remote learning, as well as for saving training time and expenses.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is disturbing the retail landscape in many ways. It can deliver enhanced experiences for shoppers at each step of the customer journey.
The scope of application of artificial intelligence in the retail sector can include more personalized marketing campaigns, the search for optimal delivery routes, finding tailored approaches to each customer, analyzing enormous amounts of insightful data, as well as contributing to more informed and balanced business decisions.
As a result, your AI in a retail store can help the business owner allocate resources and plan their work more efficiently.
Neiman Marcus’ app uses visual search to ‘snap, find and shop’ for items from your smartphone. This solution is a great use case of AI for retail, as it can have a great impact on customer experience. Once a customer finds an item that draws his or her attention but that is for any reason inaccessible to him or her, a similar one can be found automatically in Neiman Marcus’ inventory.
Their online site also uses this tech, providing visitors with visually similar suggestions to the products they look up. This function increases customers’ chances to quickly find what they’re looking for and thus impacts one of the central processes of online and offline retail shopping.
With its flu tracker, Walgreens demonstrated how you can productively leverage the analytical power of artificial intelligence in retail. Walgreens uses AI to evaluate data from different regions on the status of their medicine stock across thousands of stores. Based on these outcomes, it drives conclusions on flu spread across the country and can timely fill the inventories with necessary medicine.
In this way, Walgreens cares not only about its reputation and profit but also about the well-being of its customers, which is highly valuable for every retail business.
Lego, the world’s leading toy retailer, came up with a brilliant idea of how to utilize artificial intelligence in retail to make sales skyrocket. The company created a smart chatbot on the Messenger platform that acted as a friendly advisor, conveying and maintaining the brand’s tone of voice.
The AI chatbot called Ralph starts a conversation with a quick survey to identify customers’ requirements and intentions. Then, it offers a Lego set that meets his or her wishes. It’s a great solution for people who feel they can get lost in Lego’s huge catalog, or who simply don’t follow the latest updates of the company.
For the last decades, we’ve been witnessing the Internet of Things revolutionizing the retail industry. Engineers constantly find new ways to use this combination of sensors, cameras, cloud platforms, and apps to modernize supply chains, checkout systems, inventory management, in-store orientation, etc.
Thanks to these advancements, IoT in retail automates many in-store procedures, as well as provides both businesses and consumers with insightful information.
The AMW company designed intelligent IoT-powered shelves that can help store employees keep an eye on the products in stock effortlessly.
Smart shelves are equipped with sensors and cameras that detect the number of items placed on them. Once this quantity is lower than set thresholds, store workers get informed about that in a dedicated app, and they can refill the shelves quickly.
This real-time product tracking system ensures that store visitors will never see products they need being out-of-stock.
Caper produces smart shopping carts that automate several processes at once and thus make shopping experiences quick, seamless, and enjoyable. Paired with AI technology, carts can identify items placed inside and allow customers to pay for them instantly, without waiting for checkout in line.
Additionally, the app allows retail store visitors to synchronize the cart with the shopping list and quickly see where these products are in the store.
ParceLive solves the issue of delivered products being lost on the way to their buyers. Now, customers don’t need to contact store employees to get details about their shipments. ParceLive tags have built-in GPS trackers, as well as other sensors that monitor the conditions the products are delivered in.
It’s possible to see the real-time location of your shipment, as well as the level of surrounding temperature, humidity, light, and other metrics on a ParceLive platform.
The idea of creating a hyper-immersive virtual world, where people can interact with different objects and other users through an avatar, has been realized in many industries for the last couple of years.
Now, it’s also been exploited for practicing metaverse retail shopping, advertising products, or just engaging a wider audience. Leading retail brands use the endless opportunities of metaverse retail to communicate their ideas to their potential customers, mostly of younger generations.
The widely known fashion brand came up with a creative way to present its Fall 21 collection while showcasing how to utilize the metaverse for retail. In its game called Afterword: The Edge of Tomorrow, you enter the post-apocalyptic metaverse world, where you travel through different atmospheric locations and see characters dressed up in outfits of the new Balenciaga collection.
That was not the only time the brand brought metaverse into the retail industry through a game. Balenciaga also cooperated with Epic Games and added its outfits to a popular metaverse-enabled Fortnite game.
Dyson practices retail in the metaverse as an alternative way to introduce its products, along with traditional physical stores and an online website. Customers can enter the metaverse world to learn about Dyson’s appliances in detail, explore different options, try out the items in practice, and get visualized in-depth knowledge about the production and construction of a certain product.
Once visitors decide to purchase a product, they instantly find themselves on a website, where the item can be bought in a matter of minutes.
Vans didn’t follow its competitors, who created a brand retail store in the metaverse. Rather, the famous streetwear retailer wanted to leverage the power of the metaverse for creating a space for entertainment to attract customers and increase their loyalty.
So, using the Roblox metaverse platform, Vans designed a game where users can practice skateboarding, wearing and customizing Vans brand outfits.
What is retail transformation? Nowadays, understanding it and how to implement it is essential for retailers who want to achieve the growth and sustainable evolution of their business. Those companies who know how to drive and use innovation in the retail industry can be more flexible to the ever-changing market and customer expectations, as well as being open to new creative business opportunities.
Luckily, they have a huge set of instruments and models to experiment with, so clearly, companies of all sizes and niches can find their unique approach to improving their business.
How to get started?
The product discovery phase is the best first step you can take to lay a solid foundation for the development of your app. It includes a functional specification, UX/UI design, and a visual prototype that will give you a clear vision of the end product. On average, this phase takes 4-6 weeks.
The product discovery phase can help you:
- define a full scope of work and develop a roadmap for building an app
- set a realistic budget for your MVP and plan your resources
- test the waters with your audience using a visual prototype
- craft a convincing investment pitch
- get to know your team
Want to utilize the latest retail technology in your business? Contact us and book a free consultation on your project with our experts.