The retailers with the advantage in 2019 and beyond are the ones that are able to continually leverage technology to provide a better customer experience. While there are many technologies that retailers are experimenting with from artificial intelligence to augmented reality to mobile payments here are three digital trends you should pay attention to in 2019.
Digital shopping assistants
Nike recently opened its “House of Innovation 000” store in New York. The store is 68,000 sq. ft and according to Heidi O’Neill President of Nike’s Direct to Consumer business the store is “designed to be…just as personal and responsive as digital.”
Using Nike’s “Scan to Try” functionality on Nike’s mobile app customers can scan the barcode on any product in the store using the app to learn more about a product and see what colours and sizes are available. With the app customers can also see if a product is in stock, or if it is available at nearby stores or online all without speaking to anyone. Using the app customers can also request that a sales associate bring items to designated locations in the store or have items placed in a fitting room. After making the request through the app, the app shows the customer that the sales associate has received the request and is in the process of retrieving the product for the customer.
Using Nike’s “Instant Checkout” functionality customers can pay for their purchase by scanning the bar code on a product using Nike’s mobile app. After paying for the purchase within the app members can skip the checkout line and walk out of the store with their items. Instant Checkout stations are placed throughout the store so that customers can bag their own items if they choose to do so after paying for their purchase.
To use these features customers must be members of NikePlus, Nike’s loyalty program. Turning our mobile phones into digital shopping assistants is the next evolution of retail.
Augmented reality (AR) can help to reduce the friction that exists while shopping online. Wayfair, an online furniture company, has functionality called View in Room 3D in its main mobile shopping app. Using only a smartphone, a customer can virtually place a piece of furniture in their home. The technology makes it easier to see what fits and what goes well with a customer’s décor before they make a purchase. The functionality was created using Apple’s AR platform ARKit and is also available to Android users leveraging Google’s ARCore platform. To provide a sense of how new this functionality is, Apple’s ARKit, which allows developers to create augmented reality experiences for users on iOS, was released in September of 2017 and Google’s version called ARCore was only released in February of 2018.