Retail trends: Big data analytics from NFC, wearables and geolocation are changing the industry

Retail Writer

Modern-day retail is becoming more complex and challenging for a host of reasons. First, today's digital customers are less tolerant of poor customer service than ever before. Second, retailers are constantly adding new selling channels to their existing store formats. Third, new retail trends and technologies are making their presence felt in the retail sector. This last point might be the most important influence on the industry

Three tech trends are making major waves in retail: geofencing, wearables and near field communication (NFC). For retailers, technology adoption is becoming the ultimate competition and survival tool. However, surviving isn't thriving, especially in a rapidly evolving environment like the retail market. In a recent BloomReach article, Mike Cassidy explained that retailers "need to think like a Silicon Valley startup." This idea received positive attention at the National Retail Federation's annual BIG Show this year.

It's clear that retailers are embracing technology. Moreover, tech innovations are becoming a key differentiator. The big question: Is technology changing the retail industry for the better? With so much information about customers available in real-time, the answer should be yes. However, retailers' ability to reach their full potential depends on how they use retail data to their advantage.

Driving better engagement and user experience with geofencing

Geofencing, the action of using GPS or radio signals to pinpoint when potential customers are within certain boundaries, can transform the way retailers attract and engage their customers, and inform the right shopper marketing strategy. Plot Project shows many interesting cases of geofencing across the retail industry, including sneaker retailer Meat Pack, which sent discounts to consumers in competitors' stores. Campaigns using this technology are helping retailers drive customer engagement through relevant and real-time messages. Dallas-based restaurant chain Elephant Bar saw that 30 percent of its customers visiting on a particular day had received a geofencing message in a recent campaign, according to The Point of Sale News.

To truly see the benefits of geofencing, businesses must pair it with the right retail data sets, including purchase patterns and recurrent in-store behavior. Gleaned over time, this data helps retailers suggest the right products to their customers when they need them. Tagging offers and discounts on products in which customers show interest will make them even more attractive. Geofencing can also inform retailers' choices when reorganizing store layouts, helping them utilize the most crowded or frequently visited aisles and highlighting in-demand items in the new configuration.

Offering omnichannel experiences with wearables people receive notifications from their favorite brands on their wearables, it improves responsiveness to brand messages. Moreover, wearables can help retailers boost the customer experience. How? Wearables allow retailers to collect more retail insight. However, the effectiveness depends on your ability to create a seamless omnichannel experience. Retailers should leverage wearables to capture data from willing consumers. With retail trends shifting toward the use of social and journey analytics, companies can tie data from wearables and mobile devices to new strategies.

Meshing online and offline shopping experiences with NFC

What if buyers could view a product on a shelf, place it in the virtual cart on their smartphones, pay at a physical checkout upon exit and even have the product delivered to their doorsteps? You may ask, "What's the point of in-store visits if everything is getting done online?" According to Hardware Merchandising, consumers still want to touch and feel products before making a final purchase. NFC could help retailers seamlessly blend online and offline elements to improve the customer experience.

With so many benefits, retailers are warming up to these emerging technologies. However, there is some customer concern over privacy and security of personal data. Therefore, the key to harnessing the benefits of these technologies is generating a compelling offer and personalizing the shopping experience. Make sure the data and privacy intrusion is a non-issue for your customers at the onset. This way, they won't feel interrupted, but respected and valued throughout the customer journey.

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