Just like any other industry, retail is constantly being pushed forward by technology. In the past, it had disrupted the world of shopping with the advent of e-Commerce, allowing anyone to shop online. Fast forward to today, the new inventions keep opening bold new ways to drive sales and engage clients in unexpected ways.
By inventions, we mean all the buzzwordy terms like “machine learning,” “IoT,” “big data” or “virtual assistants.” All of these might have been rough around the edges when they were first being tested, but now all this innovation is finally viable with multiple startups going all-in on some of the given technologies in retail.
Listed below are three trends in IT and sales that are the future of retail unfolding right now:
Virtual Assistants/Voice Search
Instead of trying to hit all the right keys on your phone keyboard, it’s easier to just ask orally: “Okay Google/Alexa/Cortana, what was the height of Napoléon Bonaparte?”, “1.69 meters” — the female voice answers. What’s hard though is to predict how popular this trend actually is today. By now, 42.7% of U.S. adults are using voice search. This is why websites are already being optimized to facilitate this functionality.
As for retail in particular, it’s important to note that most answers coming from your voice assistant are fetched from featured snippets you see in the normal written search. With Napoleon, it will show you the number right there in the list of search results, but this particular search is non-commercial. When the person types “buy winter shoes Melbourne” the featured snippet is the list of shoes from different vendors. That’s right, voice commerce is on its way and search engine optimization gets even more important.
Geographic Information Systems
When building any business operation, there is always an accumulated stash of geographic information in some shape or form. A city or a country or even as exact of a hint as GPS locations. Usually, this information is left unused. When systematized though, this data allows companies to uncover new opportunities.
The best thing you can do with geo-information is lay it on the map and see what it tells you about the market. It may show you which exact branches of your business see more sales or clusters of frequent delivery locations. With purchased or free third-party datasets on things like regional comparison of household income or age data you may predict the most favorable locations for potential new shops in your network.
As you can see through the following example shown via Aspectum, geospatial analytics can tell you a lot. Here, you can see the locations of Walmart department stores scattered all over the U.S.. This map shows local average income levels through low/high saturation of a green gradient. In addition, the regions that are exceptionally high and low income are highlighted in red and blue via additional filters.
Big Data Into The Big Funnel
The further into the future, the bigger and better everything gets and the same goes for data. Of course, marketers are still, the masterminds behind the best campaigns, but, as always, a lot of guesswork is at play. You never know if you are targeting the right audience with the right idea. The big data is out to eliminate at least some of this gamble by making the given decisions more informed.
Right now, via machine learning models, data can generate personalized offers with information like previous purchases or searches. They predict similar goods the person would be interested in based on what they had viewed in the past.
Market basket analysis is another thing you can do. With big data, you can predict which goods a median customer is likely to purchase together.
The intel shown above allows you to organize accurate remarketing campaigns with relevant goods on ad networks or through email and other means. Most importantly, all this data can now freely be channeled into accurate insights. The right tools have finally arrived, there are more solutions for analytics today than ever, and you can finally process a huge volume of data with ease.
The best way to get everything technology has to offer is combining these means. For instance, big data can be fused with AI-powered assistants. Platforms like Dott can come up with new important insights based on your POS data. It processes sales, products and client information and then issues advice on what you can do to improve your sales.
Staying Up To Speed
Technology is not only here; it’s also easier than ever to apply it in your business. Without innovation, retail, as it was, will no longer remain competitive. In reality, new products will make the industry more accessible and less of a gamble.
Not every new piece of IoT will be integral to your operation, however, the really promising new IT products are definitely worth a look. This is why you should always watch out for new solutions to do things better, faster and seamlessly.
Artem Berehovyi, Chief Business Development Officer at Aspectum is an internationally experienced and well-rounded professional with a proven eight-year background in SaaS/PaaS platforms and consultancy business. Berehovyi drives his skills and knowledge to deliver cutting-edge technology into business processes of retail, transportation, real estate and consultancy industries.