n the rapidly evolving landscape of retail, this year is set to witness the culmination of digital consumer experiences that not only rival but surpass traditional in-store services. The convergence of physical commerce, frictionless delivery, mobile and social shopping, customer service chatbots, AI, hyper-personalization, and metaverse experiences is reshaping the retail sector. Let’s delve into the cutting-edge retail technology trends that will define the industry in 2024.
1. Technology to Reduce Friction
According to a PwC report, over 40% of consumers are willing to pay more for products that offer quick and convenient delivery. Retailers are responding with solutions like self-checkout, autonomous checkout, expanded payment options, and real-time inventory updates. Nearly half of American consumers use self-checkout regularly, and proximity mobile payments are expected to become more prevalent.
2. Buy Online, Pickup In-Store (BOPIS)
BOPIS has transformed the retail landscape, enabling consumers to collect their purchases at their convenience while repurposing brick-and-mortar stores as local fulfilment centres. Integrated data analytics and advanced inventory management tools are essential for a seamless BOPIS experience, with 50% of shoppers planning to increase their use of contactless pickup in 2024.
3. Smart Omnichannel Shopping Baskets
Smart shopping baskets, powered by cloud technology, allow customers to curate and checkout from both physical and digital channels. Retailers are enhancing this experience with omnichannel customer profiles, offering personalised recommendations and the flexibility to purchase from any channel at any time. This trend enhances sales opportunities and provides a 360-degree understanding of individual customers for retargeting.
4. Hyper Personalisation
Advancements in cognitive technologies enable retailers to achieve true hyper-personalisation in 2024. Sentiment analysis, AI, machine learning, and natural language processing allow retailers to process vast amounts of customer data for targeted messaging and personalised interactions. This approach not only increases average order value but also enhances customer loyalty and lifetime value.
5. Remote Selling
Remote selling, facilitated by video calls between customers and sales associates in different locations, has become a crucial aspect of retail. With footfall expected to remain low until mid-2024, remote selling capabilities are vital for fashion and luxury retailers. AI-driven tools empower sales associates to act as personal stylists, offering product recommendations and styling tips during virtual interactions.
6. Chatbots and Virtual Shopping Assistants
AI-powered chatbots are playing a pivotal role in retail, providing instant support, handling inquiries, offering product information, and processing orders. Global retail spending on chatbots is expected to increase significantly, with AI chatbots contributing to personalised shopping experiences and saving retailers billions annually.
7. Mixed Reality Retail (AR/VR)
Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) are reshaping the retail experience, offering virtual try-on experiences, gamified social interactions, and enhanced digital pop-ups. While AR is currently popular for virtual try-ons, from trying furniture in your home to trying on virtual clothes; similarly, VR is being explored for digitally experiencing fashion runway shows.
8. Inventory Management Automation
Data-driven inventory analysis and management are critical for optimising costs, increasing customer loyalty, reducing discounting, and seizing sales opportunities. Predictive analytics, powered by AI, ensures the right products are available in the right channels, enhancing supply chain efficiency and transparency.
9. Flexible Payments
In 2024, flexible payment options are gaining prominence, with consumers demanding varied payment methods and time flexibility. “Buy-now-pay-later” options like Afterpay, Klarna, and ZipPay are becoming increasingly popular, allowing customers to make purchases with payment security while paying in instalments.
The adoption of Buy Now, Pay Later (BNPL) services is also on the rise, offering flexibility in payment options. In fact, Klarna reported a 71% increase in users in 2021 and in 2022, increased their number of retail partnership to 450,000, figures which are expected to rise this year in light of the ongoing cost of living crises.
10. Predictive Analytics
Predictive analytics is transforming retail by forecasting customer demand, optimizing inventory levels, setting optimal pricing strategies, streamlining the supply chain, preventing fraud, and predicting customer lifetime value. Retailers are leveraging advanced analytics and machine learning to gain a competitive edge in the dynamic retail landscape.
In conclusion, as retailers navigate the challenges of 2024, embracing these technological trends will not only enhance customer experiences but also redefine the future of retail. The industry is on the cusp of a technological revolution that promises to shape a new era of seamless, personalised, and immersive retail experiences.