Four cutting-edge retail technology trends emerging in 2016

Builders’ merchants lucky enough to operate in the centre of town have access to another type of trade that is rarely taken full advantage of: passing trade.

10th January 2016

retail trends 2016A retail commentator recently stated that the retail sector is set to change more in the next 10 years than in the previous 1000 as technology continues to advance at an ever accelerating pace. The previous few decades have seen the development of email, the internet, retail and point of sale software, and much, much more – so if the next ten years are set to be even more disruptive for retail, what form could these developments take?

Firstly, it seems that while most developments in previous years have been aimed at improving retailers’ processes, today’s technology trends are rather more consumer focused. Secondly, plenty of them take advantage of the ubiquity of smartphones and other internet enabled devices. Here are a few examples of cutting-edge retail tech trends.

#1 Mobile payments

Contactless and other forms of mobile payment will become increasingly popular for consumers making sub-£30 purchases. Already a staple in many large high street chains, demand for these technologies will continue to rise and will become commonplace in many builders’ merchants. Apply Pay and other mobile payment methods will also be utilised frequently. Assuming mobile payments will grow in popularity, the government may well increase the transaction spending limit for these payment methods beyond the current £30 limit. Consumers expect the point of sale experience to be as swift and efficient as possible, and contactless payment fits the brief.

#2 A new emphasis on cloud security

Cloud systems are no longer a trend – they’re almost the norm for most retailers. However, as we saw during 2015, data breaches are becoming more common. Data breaches can be extremely costly for retailers, not just in terms of the reputation hit but also the fines you’ll face. While security software can be of some assistance, many data breaches are actually caused by employees – often by mistake. Therefore, it’s wise to increase cybersecurity awareness amongst staff – even the basics such as changing passwords regularly and logging out when leaving a PC unattended.

#3 Beacons

Beacons are easily the most controversial (and unproven) technology on this list. They are devices that transmit information to nearby smartphones via Bluetooth, and can be used in retail to send messages to customers’ phones as they browse the store – perhaps offering a welcome message, information about new products or even discount codes for products that consumers are passing. While this may sound like a retailer’s dream, there are several key problems with beacons that have so far limited their implementation. First, the smartphone user must have the relevant app downloaded (this can be the retailers’ app, or a third party app that’s arranged a deal with the retailer). Second, customers won’t like being ‘spammed’ and may even delete the app that’s responsible for the messages. Third, many customers will find the technology creepy and intrusive.

There’s also a school of thought that suggests beacons could be useful for staff – for example, beacons can alert staff to check stock levels of products in a certain area.

#4 Personalisation

As consumers share more and more data with retailers, that data can be put to good use in the form of a personalised shopping experience. We see this online all the time, with personalised recommendations and discount codes. In store, personalisation of service will become even more important as brick and mortar stores must offer a USP to set them apart from internet retailers. For example, use your point of sale software to offer recommend products based on a customers’ purchase history and items in their current transaction.

While some of these technology trends may seem a little superfluous at present, it’s always important to be aware of emerging technologies and how they could improve customer experience. If you’re more concerned about efficiency behind-the-scenes, an upgrade to your retail management software may be more appropriate. Contact us to learn more.

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