The retail sector is as strong as ever and expected to grow by an additional 4.8 percent over the next five years, according to a recent Deloitte study on the global powers of retail. Tech giants are investing more heavily in retail technology to help to speed up operations, gain access to a wider, more targeted audience, and improve turnover in the process.

Since many technological developments in the retail industry are in their infancy, now is the time that businesses should be considering investing in some form of retail technology. Here’s why:

1. Speed up the payment process

In the fast-paced retail sector, new technologies are constantly being developed to speed up the point of sale process. New mobile point of sale (mPOS) technologies, contactless payments and tap-and-go communication all bring the advantages of smartphones to swift payment options.

Using small electronic devices to process payment information, these terminals connect with information on the consumer’s smartphone, either via a Bluetooth, NFC or wired connection.

These types of mPOS terminals are cost-effective to purchase and set-up, and significantly accelerate the payment process.

2. Leverage analytical data to boost sales

There are massive amounts of customer data available, from purchase history and online traffic analytics to mobile engagement and advertising click-through rates.

Leveraging this information will lead to more informed strategic decisions when locating and reaching out to potential customers. According to IBM, 62 percent of retailers reported that using in-depth analytics gives them a competitive advantage in the retail sector.

3. Voice technology on the increase

According to The Smart Audio Report, a 2018 study by NPR and Edison Research, more than 48 million adults in the United States alone own a smart speaker, and there is no reason to believe that the U.S. market is unique.

The same report showed that 57 percent of those who used their smart speaker to search went on to make a purchase. Therefore, now is the time to optimize your online listings or website for voice search engine optimization (SEO).

4. Improved customer care services

With the continual development and upgrading of chatbot abilities, businesses can streamline their customer care experience more easily, freeing up service personnel.

Powered by artificial intelligence, chatbots are designed to answer common customer queries and deal with certain requests. Using automated chat options online, companies can ensure all customer queries are responded to quickly. Chatbots can also connect customers with a human representative for further assistance, if necessary.

5. Set your store apart with retail technology

Businesses can offer the customer a new type of shopping experience with the implementation of an assortment of in-store retail technology. With just a few of the following examples, brands can set themselves apart in the minds of shoppers, while simultaneously improving the shop aesthetic and overall store environment.

  • GPS enabled shopping trolleys – The shopping trolley of the future will bridge the gap between the physical and digital shopping world. Customers can interact with the cart’s digital display, upload shopping lists, be guided through the shop, check product information and receive tailored suggestions. In turn, the retail outlet can use the trolley information to ensure correct staffing levels based on current in-store demand.
  • Electronic pricing tags – Using small digital signage tags, shops can immediately update and edit pricing and product information from a central location. This has a massive positive impact not only on the demands of staff but adds to the overall look of the premises.
  • Robots – Not so long ago, it would have felt impossible. Yet, today’s retail sector can already utilize the power of robots, just like Amazon and their 45,000 strong robot workforce. Whether it is for providing in-store customer service and guidance or for managing warehouse operations, robot retail technology will improve organizational processes.

6. Optimize sales using online channels

A shift in shopping habits with the digitization of shopping means that even bricks-and-mortar retail locations should leverage the power of the internet to increase sales. Nowadays, it can be difficult to build a brand without an online presence. By choosing from the scores of eCommerce channels available, businesses can instantly gain access to a wider customer base and stay relevant with the modern consumer’s predilection for online shopping.

Preparing businesses for the future of retail will require serious consideration, planning and budgeting. Businesses cannot afford to ignore the long-term advantages of investing in retail technology as quickly as possible.