The retail industry is evolving at a fast pace to keep up with advancing technologies, changing consumer preferences and demographics. Retailers need to adapt and keep up with these changes, not just for their survival but also to remain relevant. In this context of phenomenal change, retailers who take a customer-centric approach, focus on personalisation, invest in technology, and leverage data insights, will flourish. Hence, retailers need to stay abreast of the latest buzz in the industry and observe trends that will rewrite the future of the retail industry.
Let us explore the retail trends of the near future :
1. POS for smooth and efficient operations : As more and more retailers are becoming tech-savvy to streamline their operations, they are increasingly using Point-Of-Sale (POS) systems to be more efficient, accurate and agile. A smart POS collects and analyses data that helps evaluate how their business is functioning and gives actionable insights to improve it. Here is how POS can help retailers:
- Enhances efficiency : Once you install a POS device in your retail store, you save time in doing mundane things like paperwork, accounting, managing inventories and scheduling employees. This gives you time to come up with strategies to serve your customers better and think of innovative ways to make more profits. A POS ensures your business runs smoothly and efficiently, and gives you the bandwidth to concentrate on planning and strategising.
- Customer satisfaction : A smart POS helps you in serving your customers better, building a rapport with them and answering all their queries. It helps you to remind your customers of their previous purchases or their preferences, making them feel valued and special.
- Speeds up transactions : Now, as more and more customers look forward to cashier-less stores, retailers need to value their customers’ time. A reliable POS software will reduce the time your customers spend at the cash counter. It will also minimise human errors that can lead to losses. POS will also enable barcode scanning that increases the speed and performance of transactions.
- Manages data and enables feedback : POS will save all your financial and operational data at a single place, which makes it easier for retailers to use it as per their convenience. Also, POS software is designed in a way that enables your customers to share positive reviews about your shop and get more business.
2) Integration of POS with mobile devices, peripheral devices and payment gateways : POS allows retailers to effectively manage their store operations including scanning product data, swiping credit/ debit cards and printing receipts, etc. Hence, it is imperative for retailers to integrate their POS with other applications inside an organisation’s technology stack. Such integration with an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system, mobile devices and payment gateways lead to efficiency and ease in running the business. Also, by integrating POS with payment gateways like credit card readers allows faster checkout, increased security, accuracy in record keeping and customer satisfaction.
3) Automation : Retailers will be using AI to automate and optimise replenishment of stock before it goes out of stock, even for the most challenging categories like seasonal, perishable, or promoted products. A smart POS will make use of automation in inventory management and will also provide accurate real-time inventory data. Automation will also empower retailers to reduce spoilage of stock, shelving time, and balance workloads.
4) Employee performance tracker using POS : A growing number of enterprises will rely on POS to track their employees and their performance. It will help employers to monitor employee punch ins and punch outs, plan their shifts, evaluate performance, give awards and incentives, and prevent thefts.
5) Use of advanced analytics : Retailers understand that customer relationships not only drive sales, but also provide a wealth of data that can give insights for impactful business decisions. The New Year will bring endless possibilities for retailers to restart, revive, and reinvent their business with the help of data insights on customer behaviour. With advanced analytics, retailers will make informed decisions about pricing, promotions, investment in marketing and assortment management. Hence, insights will be used in all spheres of retail operations - right from merchandising and marketing to operations.
6) Rise of the experiential retail : As consumers become more aware and competition gets stiffer, retailers need to engage their customers with a shopping experience they will never forget. Retailers will be more reliant on technology, virtual and augmented reality and improved mobile technology to create an engrossing experience for their customers, and stay ahead in the race. An example worth mentioning is Nike’s Times Square flagship store which lures more customers with a basketball court and cameras to record shots and treadmills with screens simulating popular running routes. Not only does Nike offer an immersive experience to its customers, but also cashes on the store’s popularity for brand promotion and drive sales.
7) Socially conscious consumers driving ethical retail : The millennial consumer is aware, conscientious and concerned about the environment and sustainability. They look for brands that are aligned with their values and are even willing to pay more if it helps in doing their bit to save the planet. This preference for ethical and sustainable retail is pushing retailers to incorporate environmental, social and ethical considerations into their business practices, and be more in sync with consumers’ changing values and habits.
The retail industry today, is undergoing radical transformation driven by ever-changing technologies, evolving consumer behaviour and rising competition. The need of the hour is for retailers to be innovative, adaptive and agile to stay ahead of the curve, especially during retail transformation post- COVID 19. Request for a free demo of the iRetail suite of services from our retail specialists to help you prepare for the change.