Craig Bevan, managing director of retail for UK and Ireland at retail hardware, software and services provider Wincor Nixdorf
The digitally savvy generation expects more for less, instantly and across all channels. Customers no longer have one profile – it varies each time they shop.
Think about how you shop when you are running out at lunchtime to grab a pair of tights or a shirt, compared to how you shop on your mobile, online or with your family or friends at the weekend. As this behaviour evolves, so too does in-store technology.
By 2020, retailing will look very different to the way it does now.
I believe the store will remain at the centre of fashion retail, but in this new world a consistent database of products, prices, promotions and customer data will be essential to maintaining one view of the customer across all channels.
Can a customer buy four items online, return one to store and then add four more things to their basket – all while being identified just by their name? That is the measure of a truly seamless experience.
Personalisation will increase in stores, as online shopping preferences are increasingly built into the experience. For example, research from payment technology firm First Data’s Global Universal Commerce Consumer Tracker Study suggests that 45% of consumers use their smartphones in store to compare prices and search for the best deal.
Using data gleaned online, you could send alerts to someone’s mobile or tablet device about a top in their favourite colour or style as they pass it in store.
Mobile payment service Apple Pay already accounts for two-thirds of contactless payments in the US, and mobile payment is certain to become the standard method of payment for European shoppers within the next five years.
I also believe wearable tech, and specifically smartwatches, will play a role. Meanwhile, augmented reality technology will provide further opportunities for retailers, allowing customers to try on clothes virtually via a screen or in-store tablet.
In five years’ time, we will see the next step in in-store technology, design and integration. The ‘intelligent shop’ will give consumers more control over how, when and where they shop.