Mobile analytics, VR, AI and apps: 6 retail innovations to watch in 2018
Digital transformation isn’t optional in retail, where mobile-empowered consumers have paved the way for new shopping experiences personalized through mobile analytics and enhanced with VR. With nearly 60 percent of today’s consumers using mobile devices to perform research in-store, there is a great increase in the demand for mobile-centered retail experiences, reports Retail Dive.
As we look toward 2018, the convergence of apps, IoT, post-app technologies and mobile analytics is likely to drive continued mobile innovation. Let’s examine the top six trends to watch as we kick off 2018:
1. Data convergence
Some of the most exciting retail innovations of 2017 came from data convergence, or the product of IoT technologies such as beacons and retail analytics working in harmony. Target’s “GPS for Your Shopping Carts” uses Bluetooth-enabled carts and mobile applications to guide shoppers through a mobile-enhanced in-store experience. It’s not unlikely that the most innovative retail transformations in the year to come could bring together IoT, apps and mobile analytics in new ways to provide one-to-one personalization throughout the shopping experience.
2. Conversational interfaces
Retail customer service is already being transformed by mobile analytics and machine learning in addition to digital personal assistants. Fifty-four percent of retailers are already experimenting with in-store AI or are planning to use it in the next twelve months, reports Chain Store Age. Conversational interfaces will likely continue to provide a consistent customer touchpoint for questions and personalized product recommendations.
VR and AR are among the most visible mobile retail innovations of 2018, with brands such as Home Depot, Lowes and NYX rolling out in-store VR experiences. IDC analysts project retail showcasing will be the leading use case for AR/VR investment across industries in 2018, reports Enterprise Innovation. While there’s been clear success among brands using VR to create in-store immersive experiences, the most exciting AR/VR innovations in the coming year may enable mobile consumers to experience in-store products remotely.
“Come 2018, apps will continue to cause consumers to change their shopping habits,” Jaede Tan of App Annie tells Enterprise Innovation. Aldo has begun offering in-store touchpoints that link to mobile, allowing shoppers to update wish lists, access in-depth product info, share to social media and purchase items that aren’t stocked in store, per Retail TouchPoints. Providing a seamless experience that spans retail outlets may enable retailers to further engage mobile-empowered customers in 2018.
Sales staff who are mobile-equipped with tablets convert 68 percent of out-of-stock incidents into in-home deliveries. For retail brands like Bernhardt Furniture, virtual showroom applications are a mobile innovation that yields more than just significant lift in overall revenues. Tablet-empowered staff are transforming the customer experience to meet the needs of a consumer base that wants transparency and control throughout their shopping experience.
6. Emergent mobile technologies
Walmart will begin using blockchain technology to experiment with supply chain transparency and food safety initiatives in partnership with JD.com, IBM and Tsinghua University, reports Business Wire. The standards-based distributed ledger technology behind bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies could introduce new possibilities for mobile transparency.
Looking to the future of mobile retail, venture capitalist Janie Yu predicts that personalization will continue to increase. In an interview with Forbes, Yu called for mobile analytics to power “much smarter shopping,” including the possibility of personalized products printed in-store, on-demand.
Consumers continue to lead mobile transformation
While the leading mobile retail innovations of 2018 are still works in progress, the winning brands will certainly be the ones that deliver enhanced customer experiences through digital transformation. With smarter applications of mobile analytics, IoT, VR and other technologies, the in-store shopping experience of the future is increasingly personalized and multichannel.