It’s no secret that innovative retail technologies often transform the shopping experience for the better. Companies that take advantage of them stand out by offering customers unique and convenient experiences they can’t get elsewhere.
Two innovative retail technologies in particular, the Internet of Things (IoT) and blockchain tech, are already having a profound impact on the industry. The IoT refers to devices that are connected over a network, sharing information and allowing users to operate them remotely. Blockchain tech is essentially a digital ledger of transactions and related data that updates in real time. Retail blockchain use cases include offering customers greater transparency in regards to their supply chain.
Brands should start exploring how to leverage the IoT in retail and blockchain retail payments now. Our team at Y Media Labs can help, working with you to design experiences your customers will love.
How Brands Can Use the IoT to Create Innovative Retail Technologies
There are many ways companies can implement the IoT in retail to benefit shoppers. For example, small IoT devices can monitor the status and condition of an item while it’s in shipment.
From a supply chain perspective, this gives customers the opportunity to learn more about where a product actually comes from. For socially-conscious shoppers who may want to confirm an item has been ethically-sourced, a digital retail innovation in the supply chain could be extremely valuable. This type of IoT device also allows customers to check exactly where an item is in the shipment process. Thus, thanks to innovative retail technologies they’re better able to confirm when it will arrive.
Brick and mortar shops also get an upgrade thanks to the IoT in retail. For instance, some clothing retailers are beginning to experiment with “smart mirrors” in fitting rooms. When a customer steps into the fitting room, devices automatically scan small chips attached to each item. The fitting room “knows” what items a customer is trying on, and the mirror essentially serves as large tablet, offering related items, allowing customers to request a garment in a different size, and more.
Outside of the store, the IoT turns online shopping into a component of a experiential retail strategy. Looking into the future of retail technology, it will be relatively common for shoppers to purchase items through a digital assistant. This will reduce much of the friction naturally associated with ecommerce.
What Retail Blockchain Uses Cases Tell Us About the Future of Shopping
Like the IoT, blockchain in retail can impact the shopping experience in numerous ways. Most people know about blockchain technology thanks to the rise in popularity of Bitcoin. Now, several major companies like Expedia have begun to accept blockchain retail payments. As Bitcoin retailers become more commonplace, customers will have more options when paying for goods and services.
It’s important to understand that blockchain retail payments aren’t simply a novelty; this retail technology trend offer key benefits to both consumers and brands. Blockchain technology records transaction data in a ledger that’s publicly accessible and extremely difficult to hack. A public record of ownership data prevents criminals from easily reselling stolen goods. Stores can also accept returns more easily when they have a record indicating when an item was sold and who purchased it.
Like the IoT, this innovative digital retail technology also enhances supply chain transparency. The digital ledger stores information about where an item was in the supply chain every step of the way, and who handled it. This added transparency makes it very difficult to pass off counterfeit goods as authentic.
Looking to the Future of Retail Technology
The IoT and blockchain aren’t the only retail technology trends changing the way we shop. Augmented reality retail experiences are already changing ecommerce for the better.
Augmented reality (AR), popularized by Pokemon Go!, allows programs to superimpose virtual elements over the real world displayed through a smartphone, tablet, or headset. Sephora has already used augmented reality in retail to let customers “try on” makeup while shopping online. Meanwhile, IKEA’s experiential AR retail app lets customers superimpose virtual renderings of furniture onto their surroundings.
This type of digital retail technology also has the potential to make brick-and-mortar stores more dynamic. With AR tech, stores become experiential retail centers.
Customers can, for example, take a picture of an item with their phone and automatically call up virtual information about it. Combined with blockchain retail technology, they can even learn about the item’s full history, from where it was manufactured to how the materials it’s made from were sourced.
Soon, digital retail technologies like AR could even transform a customer’s immediate surroundings into a virtual shop. This approach to experiential retail would allow them to browse an online store the same way they would browse the aisles at an actual store.
Choosing a Partner for Digital Retail Technology Development
As these innovative retail technologies continue to improve the overall shopping experience, customers will expect these types of features. That’s why it’s important for brands to start partnering with retail technology developers now. By capitalizing on retail technology trends early on, companies are much more likely to stand out among the competition.
At Y Media Labs, we develop products that leverage innovative retail technologies for major brands like The Home Depot, PayPal, and Staples. If you want to serve your customers better with blockchain and IoT solutions in retail, we’ll help you achieve your goals.
Contact us today to learn more about our retail technology solutions!