Retail technology has come a long way since the introduction of point of sale systems, ecommerce sites and mobile apps. What was once the exclusive realm of global brands and tech giants with big budgets and an appetite for innovation and risk, advances in cutting-edge retail technologies have never been more accessible and affordable for all merchants.

Today, the ability to layer artificial intelligence to build more personalized customer interactions, use augmented reality to allow shoppers to try on a pair of shoes in their own home or build dynamic content and product marketing automation layers based on multiple data sources to close a sale, can be as easy as choosing a platform; paying a monthly license and integrating a line of code into your ecommerce store.

To understand what’s right for your business, let's look at 4 trends driving consumer purchases and loyalty and the technology that can help bridge the gap in expectations.

The Personal Touch:
With so many physical and digital touch points with a consumer creating a wealth of data, shoppers expect a much more personalized experience. This could be presenting recommended products most suited to that specific shopper; delivering relevant offers at the right time via email or paid media; or, structuring onsite branded content based on known customer segments.
Nosto is an artificial intelligence (AI) driven personalization engine. Nosto follows browsers’ actions to build up knowledge allowing the tool to deliver personalized product recommendations, dynamic content restructuring and, importantly, personalized product remarketing across facebook, instagram and email. This type of remarketing delivers a high return on ad spend and net new revenue. Making use of this type of technology unquestionably delivers higher conversion rates, more transactions and a positive impact on the bottom line.
Physical to Digital:
Selling products online, in particular clothing and footwear, can be challenging. Will the item look good on the customer, will it fit? Will that light shade or sofa suit their home?
Advances in augmented reality, now baked into ecommerce platforms like Magento or Shopify Plus, allow merchants to showcase 3D versions of their products. Products can be viewable from all angles and are able to be projected into environments or on to consumers’ bodies through mobile

New marketplace applications such as Wanna Kicks by Wannaby or The Iconic allow users to project a pair of sneakers on to their feet, walk around, capture images and video and seek opinions from friends before they buy.

Transparency:

Discerning consumers are showing more love for brands that stand for more than a product on promotion. Brands like Patagonia and Everlane, brands with purpose and a willingness to open themselves up to honest feedback are proving themselves capable of riding through the ups and downs of retail trading to build ongoing customer loyalty and advocacy.

For merchants to win in this space the easiest starting point is asking for and displaying customer reviews. This social proof can prompt and reinforce purchases, increase average order values and grow conversion rates. Yotpo is a reviews, loyalty and visual marketing platform that integrates seamlessly with major global ecommerce platforms. From collecting reviews and content through onsite, email and social messaging to displaying those reviews, ratings and user generated content alongside products onsite, in search and through social channels. Integrating this rich content across all aspects of the buying journey noticeably increases the opportunity to sell.

Data Driven Merchandising:

Each of the previous trends individually will help to drive sales for merchants, combining them with a data led approach to merchandising can deliver significant improvement across all ecommerce metrics. This approach can be as simple segmenting your email database and sending them to custom category pages based on each segments buying behavior; or dynamically changing the order of products on the home page and in categories depending on the profile of the browser.

This strategy is not only reserved for ecommerce stores. Applying the same approach to bricks and mortar stores can yield tangible increases in sales too. For inspiration on how to mix data and technology across digital and physical stores we can look at the Nike House of Innovation in New York City. Nike has blended its knowledge of its New York customers using data from digital interactions with it’s ecommerce site and mobile app to build out a shopping experience focused on delivering customers the products and experience they want.

The speed shop section located right next to click and collect lockers showcases the products most liked by the local community. This section is frequently updated based on the changing preferences of Nike’s local customers.

Using the Nike mobile app, NikePlus members can scan mannequins and have the clothing on display delivered to a fitting room without having to interact with a sales person. Once available they are notified via the app. The items the customer wants to purchase can then be scanned and paid for via Instant Checkout letting the customer walk out of a store without needing to engage with a sales person.

The sales team are focused on more tailored shopping experience such as the Nike By You customization area where selected products can be coloured, textured and personalized for the individual.

While Nike have the luxury of scale to build out these experiences there is nothing stopping small and medium retailers using similar merchandising tactics in store for example a dedicated rack for most purchased online products, or a separate click and collect counter to speed up the transaction.

Final Thoughts:

This article has covered a number of retail technologies and tactics to improve the shopping experience for customers. The key to implementing any one or all of them is starting. Talk to your solutions partner, ecommerce platform provider or anyone of the above technology platforms and ask how they can help your business grow.