In our recent research we talked to brands, retailers and marketing agencies about the importance of technology in retail. Some of the insight they offered actually caused a raised eyebrow or two in our offices and here’s why.
We have just been through one of the most unprecedented events in our lifetime that changed the retail sector as we knew it. Almost overnight the industry had to shift its efforts to 100% online – no shoppers in store, no POS or POP displays to impact sales, the industry became fully reliant on creating visibility in the online space. And then as people slowly filtered back into shops, touchless became the key driver – how could you make a sale simple and straightforward but allow the consumer to feel protected by keeping contact to an absolute minimum?
The technology that had been on the horizon – augmented reality and AI – was put to one side in favour of the previously written off QR Code. Never has a technology gone through such a renaissance in a time when technology is always driving forwards rather than looking back. It’s the equivalent of going back to CDs from music streaming!
The power of the mobile phone has also come to the fore. We were all used to using our smartphones to access additional information but now, sometimes coupled with QR Codes, they’re providing access to new levels of information that make purchasing decisions easier. Nike’s flagship store is a great example of this, offering a Speed Shop where the app on your phone allows you to complete a purchase without ever having a human interaction.
What is very clear is that technology has a transformative power and it can be used to quickly and nimbly allow brands to speak directly to consumers, an invaluable asset when faced with uncontrollable circumstances such as Covid. It’s important that all brands and retailers think about how retail can remain front and centre in their plans and how to ensure they are using cutting edge innovation, or tried and tested methods, to engage on a personal level with their consumers.