Retail technology highlights of 2013

2013 has seen new developments in technology, including virtual reality applications for changing rooms both in-store and online, as well as the development of technologies such as click and collect, mobile PoS, RFID and QR codes and clever visual merchandising, all of which have become embedded into many retailers’ every day operations.

Smart retailers will continue to invest in services that better connect the online and in-store journey, while delivering richer product information and ultimately personalisation.

Electronic labelling has become more widely adopted, in particular by high end fashion retailers such as Burberry, which is using RFID tags to personalise clothing. Customers can access a wealth of rich product data from RFID tags embedded into garments in-store with their mobile devices, when logged into, revealing the story of its creation by way of videos and product info.

Although, the real star of the show in 2013 is customer facing mobile PoS, with retailers such as Warehouse, Coast, Oasis and Reiss using the technology in multiple ways, from product information and stock availability, to wall mounted visual displays. Most importantly has been connection to the online channel, enabling customers to place an order then and there, whether a desired product is in stock or not – delivering the ultimate customer convenience and completion of a sale.

Other convenience based services that have become widely adopted this year include click and collect, which consumers have come to expect as a given delivery option. With contactless payments beginning to pick up momentum – delivering ease and speed when making payments under £20 – which are perfect for fast food environments. These and other convenience driven services will continue to grow in popularity in 2014.

However, the focus is still very much on multi and omni-channel, the facilitator for which is cloud based technologies that support a holistic view of stock – single product availability across channels – using services such as online connection in store via an iPad or click and collect. In short, one offering across all channels.

Could an online offering in store revive the high street?

It’s now very clear that integrating the convenience of online services with the in store experience is a winning combination and could well be the answer to a high street that is currently under threat. Click & Collect services alone have been shown to contribute to incremental sales, as customers who come to pick up purchased goods then buy more in store. Vodat investigates the online tech that will transform high street shopping…

Free customer WiFi in store

Encouraging customers to interact with the store or brand via the network whilst in store brings with it a plethora of benefits. Retailers can identify customers that shop in store and capture data on customer shopping behaviours across channels. This data can be used to understand how individual customers chose specific channels to browse and others to purchase, looking into details such as how and what they like to buy. As a result, marketing can become more targeted to customer’s wants and needs, driving loyalty and in turn sales.

MPoS in store

Mobile PoS in store enables customers to search the entire product range whether it’s stocked in that store or not, so if the desired merchandise isn’t available in the correct colour or size it can be searched for online via a tablet device and ordered then and there, resulting in a satisfied customer and secured sale.

Click & collect services

Click & collect has become an in demand customer service and as a result widely adopted by retailers. It delivers the ultimate convenience in deciding when and where customers can collect their purchase, as opposed to waiting around for hours on end for the delivery man to arrive or having to make a trip to the local post depot.

Customers like the ease at which they can search for, browse and compare products online, but they like the experience of visiting a store to view and try products before buying. It’s a win-win situation.

All of this technology is underpinned by the in store network. For which a professional and scalable WiFi solution is required, capable of managing multiple devices, rich functionality and spikes in data traffic, whilst keeping private data separate from guest access for obvious security purposes – however both should be managed on the one network to reduce the complexity and cost of running multiple networks.