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We’ve all wondered what the future looks like; will it be just like the Jetson’s with flying cars that drive themselves? (Probably). Will robots take over the world? (Some people think so). Will interstellar travel be the norm? These questions get asked all the time (and many of these are already in the works). But what about the future of retail? Given that merchants have sold their wares in one form or another since the beginning of time, and ecommerce has essentially matured, you might be thinking there’s not a lot of new tech pushing the bounds of how we do business. Here are 5 examples of retail tech available right now that could have come straight from a Sci-Fi film.
Yes love them or fear them, robots are coming to retail, and why not? They already manage hotels. This cute little guy created by Lowes Innovation Labs is called OSH Bot. He can speak multiple languages, check inventory and guide shoppers to the products they are looking for.
Source: OSHBot - http://www.lowesinnovationlabs.com/innovation-robots/
In case you weren’t already aware, your phone is essentially an all in one tracking beacon giving away your every move. You’ll be surprised to know this type of tracking is not just for the NSA anymore. In store analytics providers now help retailers use things like motion sensors, video and your phone’s Wi-Fi signal to anonymously track customers and employees as they move through the store. As creepy as that may sound, it offers a ton of potential for retailers to improve the customer experience by letting them know if they have enough staff on the floor, what products are the most interesting and what areas hinder the flow of your shopping experience.
Source: ShopperTrak - http://www.shoppertrak.com/solutions/interior-analytics/
Why settle for regular reality when you can modify it! It’s been known for a long time that an excellent fitting room experience is crucial if you want customers to buy your products. But let’s be honest, as customers the process of trying things on is a bit of a drag. Can I get this in a different size? How about a different color? I like this sweater but I think it would look better with a different shirt under it. Welcome to the pain free experience of virtual fitting rooms. Find the right size for you, switch out the colors and more all while just standing in front of a display. No more sending your friend back to the rack to see if they have this size in a different color, that info is instantly available at your fingertips.
Source: Virtual Fitting Rooms - http://zugara.com/virtual-dressing-room-technology/virtual-style-sense
The Internet of Things (IoT):
Connecting all of your appliances to the internet might seem like something only bleeding edge tech enthusiasts care about. But smart TV’s are flying off the shelf; people are buying wearables in droves and smart phones are becoming ubiquitous making the IoT industry ripe to go mainstream. Big retailers such as the ecommerce giant Amazon aren’t waiting for everyone to get connected appliances. They have just released their dash buttons, which is a physical button you can place on your washing machine (or other appliance) and voila with a literal push of the button you can reorder items such as laundry detergent.
Source: Amazon Dash Buttons - https://www.amazon.com/oc/dash-button
Drone Delivery for the Masses:
You may have heard the buzz when Amazon announced they were testing drone delivery to make their delivery times even cheaper and faster, or maybe you noticed how Google showed off their proof of concept drone delivery option. As a small retailer it’s easy to be fooled into thinking this type of tech is just for the big players; but did you know DHL has been testing drone delivery since 2013? It’s not available worldwide just yet, but has been successfully in use for some time in certain locations.
Source: DHL http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2014/sep/25/german-dhl-launches-first-commercial-drone-delivery-service