Barely two decades ago the shopping experience was firmly rooted in the tangible world of display racks, changing rooms and checkout counters. Today, modern retail as we knew it has completely transformed and conformed to the digital age.
Covid-19 has supercharged all things tech, propelling industries like retail well into the future in the process to overcome new challenges. According to IBM’s 2020 U.S. Retail Index report, the pandemic has accelerated the shift to digital shopping by roughly five years.
The last weekend of November marks Black Friday and Cyber Monday, two of the world’s largest in-store and online shopping events. Technology has played a key role in the success of these events thus far and its role will even be more prominent this year.
Let’s take a look at some of the key tech features that will come into play this Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
Visual search has been around for a few years, but the technology is just starting to become more popular since its been used as a tool to help retailers boost their customer experience. Visual search allows customers to shop for specific items by uploading a picture, rather than typing in keywords that describe the item.
For e-commerce retailers as well as regular stores , visual search uses images to conduct online searches. You simply take an image of the item that you are looking for, and the search engine will do the rest. It will even go one step further by showing you results similar to what you have captured.
Visual search has become increasingly popular , with Pinterest constantly building on their technology to make their platform more attractive for advertisers. Their newest app, Pinterest Lens, is reporting 100% year-over-year user growth and is currently accounting for up to 600 million visual searches monthly.
Pinterest Lens was first launched in 2017, the app allows users to search related Pins on the platform by taking a picture offline. It really is as simple as using Shazam to find a song.
Visual search and smart mirrors go hand in hand.
Smart mirrors are two-way mirrors that have electronic displays behind the glass. They make use of technology to provide shoppers with different kinds of information to help them select the right item.
With smart mirrors, consumers can virtually try on as many garments as they want without needing to change their clothes. These mirrors can act as a reflection of the retailer's full inventory without having to sort through shelves of clothes.
According to Syte’s research, shoppers can find what they are looking for up to five times faster by using visual search, resulting in an increase of sales.
Facial Recognition Payments
Contactless payments have seen a rise in popularity during the Covid pandemic. This feature is highly effective and can be fully automated for greater efficiency. Juniper Research predicts that these type of applications will authenticate $2 trillion in payments purchases by 2023.
PopID was recently launched in the US, the system is easy to setup and effortless to use. A customer signs up on their phone, takes a selfie and adds credit to their Pop Pay account from a credit card or bank account. When paying for your meal, you simply look into the camera, your name is verified, and the amount is withdrawn from the account.
Just like visual search, Augmented Reality has quickly become an essential technology for retailers.
Paint company, Dulux, has managed to solve an age-old problem with its paint visualiser app . The app allows users to point their cameras at a wall and see how specific colours will look on that specific wall. The app has a built in “buy now” function to increase the speed of the purchase process for consumers.
Indoor Mapping Systems
For shoppers brave enough to stand in line on Black Friday and deal with hundreds of other shoppers, it would be great if they were lead straight to the items that they’re looking for. With in-store turn-by-turn directions you can easily improve a customers shopping experience on busy day like Black Friday.
More and more companies are starting to use GPS technology to track customers that are near their store and then sending them hot deals in the form of push notifications at just the exact right moment.
Technology has become a key player in the retail industry, what was once far out of reach is now planted firmly in our hands.