What is in store for the retail industry in 2022? From tech innovations to customer engagement, self-service, sustainability, and artificial intelligence, these trends are sure to have an impact, depending on the retail industry the business is in. This article will highlight trends and takeaways from NRF 2022: Retail’s Big Show held earlier this year and how these trends will affect retailers in the coming months.
Self-Service, Frictionless & Contactless are Here to Stay
As the world tries to go back to normal, people are heading back to the stores to shop, as safety measures and other operational changes have affected how people buy. “74% of customers plan to use safe and contactless checkout in the long-term, even after the pandemic subsides.” Though the pandemic has set the stage, self-service will evolve into something that will become the norm, with retailers needing to step it up when it comes to touchless technology.
The move to contactless payments, along with a frictionless shopping experience that self-checkout offers is what customers have gotten used to when buying in-store. It also addresses the labor shortage that retail and restaurant industries are experiencing. COVID-19 has accelerated the need for retailers to ensure their stores offer alternative payment methods. The interaction should be a seamless, all-in-one experience.
Although a given, it is vital for retailers to continue engagement with customers after a purchase is made. How do you keep the customer for life? Keeping the customer long-term requires savvy communication through its marketing platform and using technology as a means to keep them. This includes buy-in from its employees to deliver top-notch customer service, tailoring and accommodating their needs, “meeting the customer in the moment.”
“Today’s customers have high expectations for services and offerings provided—and instant gratification is always top of mind.” Retailers need to offer the customer personalized, interactive, and amazing experiences, both digital and in-store to allow the customer to keep its business on their radar. “A personal touch goes a long way for customer retention.”
Leverage Technology for Customer and Employee
The use of technology to increase customer loyalty, ease the checkout process, and manage inventory will help retailers find success in the long run. Retailers need to recognize and understand how to leverage technology not only for their customers but also their employees.
As stores return to full capacity, tech issues can arise when it comes to payment devices that can have a negative impact on the shopping experience, resulting in lost productivity and loss of sales. An associate can lose anywhere in between 60 to 100 minutes in productivity if a device is not working or is down. If the device is inoperable, how are they to expected to provide exceptional customer service? “New technologies will make in-store fulfillment faster and more user friendly for employees and customers.”
If you are a retailer that has not given thought to using or applying artificial intelligence (AI) to its business operations in some type of capacity, now may be the time to evaluate and consider its application. This year alone, AI spending will reach $7.3 billion. For retailers, AI can lead to an increase in customer loyalty and repeat buying with a personalized shopping experience, such as taking a customer’s buying history to deliver clothing of a specific color, say blue. When they walk into the store, AI can serve up blue clothing it thinks the customer will like.
AI virtual assistants can also direct the shopper to the exact item they need or make suggestions based on past purchase history or search. In-store, a virtual assistant can allow for a safer and customized shopping experience. This can be helpful if the retailer does not have enough employees to staff the store due to labor shortages.
The supply chain was another major topic of discussion during this year’s NRF show. Despite the ongoing challenges, there was a hint of optimism. Data and artificial intelligence can help retailers better navigate and manage the supply chain. The consensus on confronting the supply chain is with technology that can help with visibility.
Behind the scenes, when it comes to the supply chain, AI and data can help address current challenges retailers are faced with. Retailers can embed AI “more aggressively into their platforms in order to improve their inventory management and predict how much they’re going to sell in one store or across the entire fleet.”
The emerging trend that retail leaders were also vocal about was sustainability when it comes to the environment. “62% of consumers are willing to change their purchasing habits to reduce environmental impact,” and is “a top five-factor in consumer purchase decisions.” It is more than just using recycled materials for shipping. Retailers need to review and evaluate their processes from sourcing of products to supply chain and when the item finally reaches the consumer.
One of the ways that retailers can be transparent when it comes to sustainability is digital IDs. These digital IDs, like a QR code, give the customer information about a product, where it was sourced, and its lifecycle. Another sustainable practice is circularity. Circularity is when the life of the product is extended after the customer is finished using it. “Not only does this option prolong the life of the product, but it also keeps people on your website buying your brand again and again.”
There are many bright spots for retailers to revel in, in hopes they can take advantage of those opportunities to grow their business. Technology, the power of the customer, management of the supply chain, and artificial intelligence are some of the building blocks needed to help propel retailers into the future, starting now.
When it comes to payments, POS Portal understands the current market and trends when it comes to the payments landscape. We can guide you to all you need to know about the hardware needed for seamless transactions and contactless payments. We are happy to answer any questions. Call us toll free