As regular blog readers will know we are very interested in retail technology trends here at Barber and how it can be used effectively to enhance both sales and customer experience. Here’s a look back at some of the best innovations in retail technology that we have reported on over the past year, how they were received by shoppers and how they will continue to change the retail landscape.
As we reported in October, retailers are now beginning to wake up to ‘big data’ and realise the value of the vast amounts of personal information they have gathered from online sales and purchases made via retail loyalty schemes. Knowing what to do with so much data has been a bit of a hot potato since multi channel sales began, but now retailers are waking up to the value of using the information to their best advantage.
One of the main ways that retailers have been using big data this year has been in personalising the customer experience – both for online and bricks-and-mortar transactions. Personalisation became a priority for many retailers and looks set to be a mainstay on the retail agenda with more businesses reporting positive effects – as they recognise the value in getting closer to their customers.
Click and Collect
We reported on the rise and varying fortunes of retail fulfilment strategies this year as some retailers began to re-examine how their now established click-an-collect schemes were faring and whether they were able to continue to use these systems to deliver a seamless shopping experience for customers whilst also protecting their profit margins.
In July we reported on how John Lewis had decided to begin charging £2 on all click-and-collect orders under £30 – after evaluating their strategy and questioning whether the service represented a sustainable business model.
Asda also revealed plans to scale back click-and-collect operations, following their worst quarterly sales slump in their 50-year history. The grocery giant decided to refocus their investment into improving their larger stores, with Asda boss Andy Clarke explaining at the time that they needed to simplify their offer so that they were ‘not spread too thinly.
Contactless and Mobile payments
At the end of June we reported on the introduction of Apple Pay to the UK – alongside other contactless payment technology – enabling shoppers to tap and pay for their purchases via a ‘digital wallet’ system linked to their iPhone or Apple watch.
Waitrose, Boots, Marks & Spencer and Lidl were some of the early adopters of the new Apple system and – since our first report, six months ago – just 3% of iPhone 6 owners are reportedly using the payment technology – although retailers optimistically suggest that there is plenty of room for growth in this area.
Retailers and technologists responded to Apple Pay with their own systems – Google launched ‘Android Pay’- a revamped version of its ‘Google Wallet’ service and Sainsburys and Walmart both brought out shopping apps with mobile payment capabilities to ensure that Apple do not dominate the market.
So what will happen in 2016? We expect to find more retailers making good use of their big data with new ways to enhance the customer experience. Mobile payments have proven popular, despite some teething troubles and click and collect services continue to operate despite mixed results – whatever 2016 holds for retail technology innovation, you can be sure to read about it on our blog, so stay with us in 2016 as we wish you a very happy and prosperous new year!