Retail Technology Innovation: The Changing Landscape of the High Street

Krome’s Commercial Director Sam Mager gives his insights on how we are working with the retail sector to revolutionise the consumer experience.

With recent reports stating that 2018 has been the worst year since the turn of the millennium for retail closures on the high street, we are being regularly approached by retail organisations for advice on how to use technology to innovate the retail sector in order to keep high street brands competitive; our Commercial Director Sam Mager talks about his views on the evolution of retail technology in the high street.

Retail Technology Customer Journey

“The retail world is changing. This is not news to anyone, the high street has been hit by the internet and the way we, as consumers, buy and shop, has fundamentally changed forever, however if the Internet retailers are the future, why are the ‘bricks and mortar’ retailers still there? Human nature is the answer.

It is why I read most things on a screen nowadays, be it in front of a PC, notebook, tablet or E-reader, but if you ask me, you still cannot beat a good book. The look, the feel and even the smell, it all adds to the experience, and for this reason I do not feel that we will see the high street disappear in its entirety, but we will see it evolve, and those retailers who are at the forefront of technology innovation will benefit the most.

Innovative Retail Technology

How can we use technology to innovate in retail? This question, more than any other, is asked by our retail clients; from fashion houses, to grocers, well-known high street brands are recognising that standing still is simply not an option. Failure to move with the times and to keep the high street a tactile and engaging shopping experience will ultimately see their brand become a victim of the evolution of E-Commerce.

There are many new and emerging technologies available now that are enabling us, as a consultancy, to work with our retail clients to understand their own customer journey better and evaluate how this can be significantly enhanced with the use of technology. Bridging the gap between searching for products online to utilising new and emerging virtual reality and augmented technologies in order to draw customers away from their virtual position and back into the physical world again.

Once a potential customer is on the high street, it is the retailers that have invested in the correct technologies to understand what brings a customer into their store, but more importantly what journey they take once they are across the threshold that enables them to tune their point of sale marketing to increase their transaction rate. The technology is already well seeded and with it we can map a customer journey from the point they enter a store until they leave, but how do we take this one-step further?

The fact is that most people now view the internet via their smart phone over their PC. Given that there are over 3.5 Billion mobile internet users globally, making these devices part of the overall experience is key to the evolution, if not the revolution of the high street. Want a pizza? Use an app! Need to find the next train? Use an app! Need a taxi? Use an app!

The integration of using customer journey data, and mapping this with a well-structured GDPR compliant app, is the key to increasing both the customer threshold count and relating it to higher till transaction rates. With customer consent, we can track a customer into store, monitor the time they dwell, and in real time deliver personalised offers to the potential customer.

For example, a customer is stood looking at a specific sports shoe, they’ve dwelled for long enough that the app has recognised and registered the product interest, but what if the app could then automatically notify them that their size is in stock? What if they could request, at the touch of a button, to have a pair brought out to try on? What if a customer is holding two pairs of jeans and we can notify them that a 30% discount is available with a third pair? This level of real-time interaction is where the high street will evolve and this is just the beginning of the digital technology changes that can be implemented into the physical high street.

We have the likes of Amazon working on delivering goods via drones so that we never need to leave our houses again to shop. Personally, this invokes visions of a “Buy N Large” society, where all real world social interaction becomes superseded by a scarily imaginable virtual world.

We need the high street, in the same way we need sports centres, parks, bars and restaurants, we need a society where people meet and interact with each other, however, technology will keep evolving and the unescapable fact of the matter is that we are becoming more and more dependent on computers. Did you put the radio on this morning? Did you turn an alarm off? Did you do that by pressing a button or did you start a sentence with one of the following words “Alexa/Siri/OK Google”… Chances are you did, and this evolution and continued integration of tech into our daily life is only going to progress and progress at an alarming rate.

In the 1970’s Intel produced the first microprocessor, Pong was a cutting edge video game, and ILIXCO produced the first LCD watch… fast forward nearly 50 years and we now have Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, ever improving Artificial Intelligence and more and more wearable tech every day. Use a fitness app to track your calories? Wear a FitBit to monitor your health? Speak to your TV to put a programme on? Where does this evolution of technology end?

Looking at how quickly technology is evolving and innovating, it is the high street brands that embrace this retail technology evolution that will stand the test of time and play a fundamental part of this technological progression. Will the high street be the same in 50 years’ time, obviously not, but what it will look like and how quickly will it evolve is the question; in many ways it already has.

If you had told someone playing Pong that in their lifetime they would be playing video games that were so immersive that their brain would not be able to distinguish between reality and fiction, they would have thought you were mad. Think of that next time you walk down the high street, look at how many cameras and WiFi AP’s there are, try and be conscious of how often you check your Smart Phone and then really think about how this could evolve not only within your generation, but what about the next?

We may not all be taking our flying cars to the shops, but a technological evolution is already happening, it is changing the landscape of retail and the possibilities are fascinating.”

If you’re interested in speaking to us further about how we are developing and implementing innovative solutions for the retail sector please contact us.

Further Information

Or contact us directly on 01932 232345