Retail Tech Trends: What’s Hot and What’s Not in 2017

There’s been much buzz around the latest retail tech trends following the National Retail Federation’s (NRF) “Big Show 2017.” The overwhelming display of innovation this year focused on three key areas that are transforming the retail industry: the Internet of Things (IoT), augmented/virtual reality, and cloud advancements. Retailers looking to maintain a competitive edge will need to invest in these three areas.

IoT and RetailIoT and the Connected Retail Environment

Connecting appliances to the Internet has a strong appeal to consumers, and it comes down to consumer convenience. The ability to preheat an oven, start a dishwasher, or order groceries from a connected device simplifies the life of the consumer. The more that retailers can address consumer needs for simplifying tasks and saving time, the better positioned retailers will be in the crowded retail market.  

Another benefit that connected retailers are experiencing involves product  performance. Image recognition technology, as shared by both Intel and Trax, delivers insight to retailers from store shelves on how their products are performing. This allows sales associates to monitor and reduce out-of-stock occurrences, ultimately increasing revenue and improving customer experience. IoT is also improving the customer experience by helping retailers personalize shopping.. At NRF Ron Jon showcased its interactive Smart Digital Surfboard, which determines important customer information, including gender, age bracket, and dwell time, to help customize the shopping experience for each person.

Retailers are making big investments in IoT for a number of reasons. IoT allows these retailers to easily obtain consumer, product, and device information—which, when implemented, results in revenue growth, increased speed to market, scalability, and efficiency. The connected retail environment is here and growing.  

Augmented Reality and the New Shopping ExperienceAugmented Reality

Retailers are shifting to a mobile-first approach in order to provide a better customer experience. With increased competition and new online stores entering the market daily, brick-and-mortar stores are challenged not only to get shoppers in the door, but to keep them there. Enter the new augmented reality (AR) shopping experience—one that keeps them engaged and provides an easy,  convenient experience with anytime, anywhere availability.

AR gives consumers opportunities to interact with store-owned devices, enhancing the time spent within the shop. Customers are also encouraged to use their own mobile devices to look up product and store reviews while there. Other AR experiences include digitally “trying on” outfits in clothing stores and virtually arranging furniture in homegoods stores. Lowe’s has been on the forefront of augmented/virtual reality innovation. The Holoroom, introduced in 2015, provides a virtual reality-based home improvement design and visualization tool that empowers homeowners with an immersive, intuitive experience. Since implementation, Lowes has delivered experiences that are personalized to the needs and wants of their customers, ultimately enhancing customers’ in-store experiences.

Although AR is just starting to hit mainstream, many retail leaders are looking to implement this offering more fully within stores and in digital environments to differentiate their offerings and ultimately increase their profits.

Cloud Advancements and Retail Innovation

Retailers are looking to invest in cloud advancements to change the nature of innovation within their environments and to give customers the easy and convenient shopping experience they expect.

By taking advantage of cloud-based applications, retailers can improve collaboration with partners in integrated ecosystems; streamline channel operations; drive seamless customer experiences; and personalize sales, merchandising, and customer service through easier access to information from multiple sources. Other factors driving cloud investment include increased storage and computing power, flexibility in data access models, and increased security, all of which reduce costs for the retailer. Leaders looking to drive efficiencies, grow revenue, and increase speed to market are investing in IT with cloud advancement.  

A Transformative Industry

IoT, augmented/virtual reality, and cloud advancements are all important investments for retail leaders. Without them, retailers will fall behind and lose their competitive edge. These solutions not only help retailers grow revenue, but they also reduce operation expenses, enhance customer engagements, and connect retail environments online and in stores.

VMware understands retailers must produce a rewarding and reliable customer journey to increase customer satisfaction and brand loyalty. By blending digital technology with traditional store, distribution centers, warehouses, and call center environments, VMware is helping thousands of retailers leverage purpose-built technology solutions to modernize retail operations, enhance customer experiences, empower a digital workforce, and ensure security and compliance across every retail experience.

Learn more about how 10 of the top 10 global retailers are using VMware Solutions.