Top Five Digital Transformation Trends In Retail – Forbes

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This week, I launched a new series focused on the biggest digital trends impacting various industries. First up was healthcare, where technology is gifting patients with greater access to quality care through telemedicine—and arming caregivers with even more life-saving tools like wearables, predictive data, and the Internet of Medical Things (IoMT). Now we move to retail, where a similar wave of empowerment has hit the industry—this time, on the side of consumers.

Whether retail is ready for it or not, consumers have become hooked on the real-time, personalized world of the modern digital landscape, and they expect their retail providers to follow suit. Today’s digital consumer is a demanding beast. They want what they want, and they want it now. (And that’s just today’s shoppers; don’t even get me started on Generation Z, which is actually expected to become the next big retail disruptor.)

Today’s retailers have never had more demands—or more opportunities—to reach their customers in new and exciting ways. Retailers are no longer selling things. They’re selling the experience of buying those things. And it better be a good one. Says one writer, “We can no longer be a little bit digital.” It’s an all-or-nothing train, and retails who refuse to hop on now will be left behind. The following are a few of the biggest technologies currently impacting the industry.

Mobile

I still remember the first time I learned I could walk up to any associate—literally anywhere in Nordstrom Rack—and pay for my purchases. Now that seems like old hat, with Amazon Go offering customers the chance to purchase items without checking out at all. Today’s opportunities in mobility run the gamut from mobile-armed sales staff to mobile-enhanced product reviews, mobile-responsive websites, and discounts on demand via apps while shopping in store. A recent study showed 82% of smart phone users consult their phones in the store while deciding what to buy. It makes sense that those shoppers can now use mobile pay—from a growing number of providers—while they’re at it.

Mobile wearables are also shaking up the digital world. Now customers can walk stores with virtual reality (VR) goggles and try on items without ever touching them physically. Not only is it faster and easier—it’s fun for the customer, and one more way to get him or her in the digital or physical door.

Smart Beacons 

Another smart way to capture customers: smart beacons. Smart beacons work with Bluetooth to alert retailers when customers are in the vicinity of their store or signage so they can communicate with them at a targeted time or range. In fact, smart beacons take targeted marketing to a whole new level. What better time to send a customer a coupon or discount code than when they’re standing outside your door?

Smart beacons also allow for immediate data collection to determine the effectiveness of one’s marketing campaign. Do promos usually work better at a certain time of day? Among certain age groups? With certain product types? With smart beacons, retailers no longer have to guess—or devote tons of time, money, or analysis—to finding the answer.

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