How technology is changing retail: when digital meets physical

retail innovation technology 

Technology has changed the way we shop. As Amazon boxes pile up on our doorsteps and digitally native brands like Glossier dominate beauty, can marrying digital and retail save bricks and mortar stores? 

In 2019 onwards, particularly if the UK exits the EU, rising costs will continue to exert pressure on margins and force retailers to focus on cost reduction and operational efficiency.

A further acceleration in shop closures as retailers finally get to grips with transforming their real estate portfolios to be fit for a market where online continues to outperform the rest of the market. The shop still has a key role to play, but there will be fewer of them. 

They are also facing increasing competition from several consumer brands which all want a closer connection with their consumers via direct to consumer activity. There will be more competition for consumers, for the best locations and the best people as automotive manufacturers and consumer product companies look to develop their presence on the high street and in shopping centres. Technology is changing retail so how can you make the most of it?

Digital meets physical

The shop has a great future but it will be different from its past.

  • Be more than a shop
    Retailers need to ensure that their shops remain relevant and are places that consumers want to keep coming back to. Experience is more important than ever and retailers’ shops need to be more than just places to transact.
  • Put digital in your physical
    Retailers are realising that the biggest impact that digital can have on their business is in-store. Some of the most innovative and compelling shops make digital a core part of the shop experience.
  • Smart retail
    The internet of things (IoT) allows retailers to know more about customers than ever. By using location settings within apps, retailers can see when shoppers are in-store and catch them at the moment of purchase. Imagine you’re umming and ahhing over buying a new top or trying to decide what to get for dinner. Serendipitously your phone buzzes and there is a voucher from that shop offering you a discount or deal. Fate can’t be ignored and so you make the purchase. That’s smart retail.
  • Selling online, offline
    Online retailers are turning to shops to help them grow their businesses and help service their customers. But these are very different shops, ones that look to replicate the online experience in the offline world. Check out Amazon Go below to see how.

Creating interactive retail experiences

The only right way to innovate your business is to experiment.

  • Shop in magical reality
    Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) are set to transform the retail experience both online and offline, often connecting the two with more immersive experiences.
  • Get personal with AI
    Artificial intelligence (AI) allows retailers to personalise the shopping and products experience and to do so at scale, utilising large amounts of data.
  • Design for the eye
    Visual search is changing the way that consumers shop for products, with more and more consumer journeys starting with an image or a photograph.

AR in retail stores

If you’re looking to expand your digital offering, or bring retail innovation technology in-store but are afraid you don’t have the right team to help, contact the team to hear how we can help with your executive search


Share this Article

Growth and Leadership

We demystify challenges by fresh thinking and seeking continual improvement. Browse our content here.

We demystify challenges by fresh thinking and seeking continual improvement. Browse our content here.