Dec 09 2019

5 Retail Tech Trends to Watch for in 2020

AR/VR, the Internet of Things and data analytics will all have a big impact on retail in 2020.

Few industries have been disrupted by emerging technology like retail. From the growth of online sales to the mobile shopping experience, the industry has shifted permanently to accommodate the growing needs of the digital consumer.

As technology continues to emerge and be refined, the landscape is likely to continue shifting for retailers who are fighting for every visit to their physical and digital stores. Here are some of the tech trends experts say are worth watching in the retail space in 2020.

1. Augmented and Virtual Reality Will Have More Widespread Use

Augmented and virtual reality aren’t just for gamers anymore — retailers have been tinkering with the technology in recent years. Stores have been using AR to help online shoppers find everything from shoes to furniture. The technology can allow users to see if furniture will fit in their living rooms or how shoes would look on. AR and VR can even let shoppers see what makeup will look like on their faces before purchase.

It’s becoming more accessible for retailers to incorporate AR/VR as well, with platforms that specialize in helping stores build their virtual worlds. With a clear demand for convenience from customers, as well as advancements to make the technology more affordable, expect to see this technology used a lot more in 2020.

2. Expansion of Data Collection and Analytics Will Lure More Customers

Let’s face it, Big Data is everywhere. From concerns over breaches to the collection of information, data is set to be a hot topic both in the news and in the boardroom. Retail is one industry that particularly stands to gain from data collection as companies look to learn all they can about their customers’ needs.

Retailers have been able to expand their collection of data through both point of sale and website cookies, but expect that to expand in 2020 as more companies take advantage of the Internet of Things to learn more about the shoppers they’re trying to lure in. Not only will they need tools like customer relationship management systems to keep it all straight, but they’ll also need to be able to analyze and visualize all that information. Platforms such as Microsoft’s Power BI, Splunk and Tableau can help organizations understand the information they’re collecting so they can optimize profits.

3. More Stores Will Embrace the Internet of Things

The rise in IoT has forced industries to take notice; it’s estimated that by next year, there will be 30 billion IoT devices in operation. According to McKinsey Global Institute, these devices will have an economic impact on retail of between $410 billion and $1.2 trillion by 2025.

Automated checkout, personalized discounts and smart shelves are all advancements that are powered through IoT. Customers can be sent alerts about discounts relevant to them when they get close to a store, and those stores can use IoT to better keep track of inventory and increase efficiency. Look for IoT to help brick-and-mortar stores create customer experiences that rival that of online stores.

MORE FROM BIZTECH: Read how small retailers can keep their customers coming back after the holidays.

4. Visual Search Will Help Shoppers Find What They’re Looking For

Online shoppers have long been frustrated trying to put together the right combination of keywords to find the item or style they’re searching for. Over the past few years, visual search technology has revolutionized that process, allowing shoppers to take a picture of an article of clothing, upload it to an engine like Google Images, and use that to drive the search with artificial intelligence.

It’s been a hit with customers and retailers alike. Research from ViSenze found that 62 percent of Generation Z and millennial consumers want to use visual search, while Gartner has predicted that early adopters of visual search will see their digital commerce revenue jump 30 percent by 2021. Companies who want to target younger consumers will have to incorporate it.

5. Attention Will Be on Mobile Shopping App Security

While physical in-store security has been common practice for retailers for decades, the surge in app-based shopping has raised the profile of the issue of cybersecurity as well. Customers are more aware than ever of the vulnerability of their data through online purchasing, with research showing that nearly 60 percent of customers who don’t use retailer apps are afraid their data will be compromised. Retailers need to have solutions in place to put those shoppers at ease.

From securing payment information at the point of sale to ensuring data protection is compliant with the General Data Protection Regulation, retailers big and small will need to prioritize customers’ changing security needs. That includes putting mobile apps through the same kind of penetration testing and endpoint precautions that organizations use to protect other parts of their networks.

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