No doubt 2013 was a game-changer for retail (could we have imagined a day when we’d buy dinner with our telephones?) and the pace of technological development was furious, but — and here’s where things get interesting — the full potential of many of these nascent additions to the retail scene is far from being realized.
It’s why 2014 stands to take an even more revolutionary turn ’round the calendar, with a whack of retail experts predicting massive modifications to the way people shop. Here are four of the more prominent ones:
- Mobile commerce growth. Retailers will increasingly make room for progress on this front, and take technology companies up on their offers of apps and upgrades that facilitate easier purchasing for consumers. And why not, with some statistics suggesting that 45 percent of smartphone users look at their phones during the in-store shopping process, and 20 percent amend their purchases as a result.
PayPal’s mobile wallet payment platform and Google’s work on technology that allows mobile devices to stand in as a payment card (Host Card Emulation) so shoppers might make Near Field Communication (NFC) payments for their stuff are big deals on this turf. Other platforms to watch in this space include Apple’s iCloud Keychain and Google’s GlassPay, which process mobile payments using Bitcoins.
Big-box stores like Toys R Us are expected to lead the charge here, though small businesses are proving every bit as eager to climb on board.
- Multichannel development. There’s no denying the increasing co-appearance of brick-and-mortar and online operations, still-new sightings on the retail landscape whose integrated existence enhances the individual presence of each. In the States, Macy’s is turning up the volume on this kind of thing via a recently enacted partnership with wildly popular shopping app Shopkick.
- Geolocation technology. With every baby step mobile technology takes, retail stands to benefit by giant strides. In 2014, location-based marketing will leave its juvenile beginnings behind and surface as a mature opportunity for the delivery of contextual promotions that can encourage shoppers to impulse purchase more than ever.
The still new iBeacon technology (that was part of the Apple iOS 7 gambit), for one, means radio signals can talk to in-store sensors and capitalize on the critical purchasing decision moment.
- POS Consumerization. The ideal of a practical, feature-rich and attractive surface on which the checkout process might unfold is gaining increasing ground. Whether it be high-end, multi-function devices that elegantly expedite the process or iPads that double as POS solutions, retailers are coming around to understanding how important this punctuation to a purchase is.
Indeed, many stores are abandoning the traditional countertop altogether, and opting instead for in-aisle purchasing technology, all in the interest of making the buying component of a consumer’s retail experience that much more efficient.