The Five Biggest Retail Tech Trends In 2022 – Forbes

As we move into 2022, the global pandemic, which is still ongoing, has brought seismic changes to the world of retail. Online, retailers are busier than ever and challenged by the need to fill orders and refresh inventory at an increasingly rapid pace, as well as reduce revenue and wastage caused simply by returns. Offline, in the world of malls, high streets, and bricks ‘n’ mortar, the challenges are very different, as retailers face declining footfall plus the have to compete with global e-tailers on convenience and also price.

It’s clear that even in 2022, customers still want in-person retail, particularly when it can be augmented along with technology to create new experiences and match the comfort factor of online shopping. Creating hybrid shopping encounters like “buy-online-pickup-in-store” and developing omnichannel capabilities is the name of the game now, so here’s what I predict will be the hottest trends in shopping and retail over the next 12 months:

Cashierless shopping

Pioneered by Amazon, which launched its first Amazon Go cashier-less store back in 2018, the particular model has proved successful , and it is now being rolled out by an increasing number of retailers. These stores use cameras plus sensors to track shoppers’ activities as they remove items from shelves and place them in their bags, and automatically bill all of them when they leave the premises. Initial make use of cases were limited to small convenience stores, but during 2022 we can expect to see it rolled out there into full-sized supermarkets, thanks to companies including Tesco and Aldi throwing their weight behind the idea.

Of course, the idea is clearly controversial as, on the face of this, it involves replacing human jobs with automated ones. McKinsey estimates that will replacing a retail employee with automatic technology costs between 20% and 30% from the human worker’s salary, so there would seem to be an obvious incentive for profit-oriented businesses to cut their workforce if the technology is available. However, the counter-argument is that automating mundane work like scanning groceries at a till will free up humans to do more rewarding tasks rather than simply replace them. This makes the problem the societal challenge as much as it is a business one, meaning society at large – including legislators – will need to cooperate on the solution instead of simply leaving it in the hands of corporations. We can expect this discussion to become increasingly prominent within 2022 and as the particular decade rolls on.

  Experiential retailing

Experience is increasingly becoming an important differentiator with regard to consumers when it comes to making decisions about who they will give their own custom in order to. While previously businesses expected to compete mainly on products and price, today factors such as customer service, accessibility, ease of use, knowledgeability associated with sales staff and any number of “ambient” factors such as the décor of store outlets or the design associated with e-commerce sites play a part in customer decision-making. Experiential selling, from a technology point of view, will be about understanding the role that these factors play and putting measures in place to track and optimize their impact. For example , in bricks ‘n’ mortar shops, sales assistants can be equipped with hand-held terminals that can give them information on customers’ shopping habits and past purchases, allowing them to provide “personalized” shopping experiences much as they would receive online.

Experiential retailing involve working with any of the other trends mentioned in this article, while all of them can impact customer experience. For online merchants, the focus inside 2022 will most likely be upon creating new ways of connecting with customers – regarding example, on the internet chatbots or one-to-one video chats between customers plus sales co-workers where the latest products could be examined and demonstrated. There will also be efforts to meet growing client demand in order to get “hands-on” with items in a virtual environment, and augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) will perform a part here. For instance , digital fitting rooms allow clients to “try on” clothes using AR. BMW offers a virtual viewer that allows potential buyers to examine their particular cars and even see how they might look parked outside their own homes. Virtual showrooms, on the particular other hand, allow customers to look at plus interact with products in digital reality, such as this one created by Walmart .

Autonomous delivery

When it comes to delivery, the “last mile” is often the most expensive leg of the journey. So it makes sense that this is where many retailers are focusing their own efforts when it comes to autonomous shipping services.

Robotic delivery business Starship offers carried out 1 . 6 million deliveries since launching in 2016, and next year will expand its operations into more US and mainland European cities. They have already become a familiar sight intended for me when I go to get a jog in my hometown of Milton Keynes, England!

To be honest, it will not be surprising if Amazon’s long-promised drone delivery support still does not arrive in 2022 (it was initially promised pertaining to 2018 but has been continually delayed). But in the particular meantime, other companies have been quick to pick up the slack. Alphabet’s Wing drone delivery service provides been trialed in Australia during 2021 and may increase into full operation in 2022, having successfully delivered 10, 000 cups of coffee without a single mishap or even accident, according to the company. Back down on the ground, Starship competitor Udelv, which furthermore carries away autonomous transport via machine learning-powered bots, has announced that the autonomous multi-stop cables transporter will be unveiled within 2022. This particular self-driving vehicle travels on highways and is planned to become the first with the particular capability to make multiple shipping – right up to 80  – in one journey. Also launching next year is mobility experts Segway’s partnership with the LA start-up, Coco, a robotic delivery services. It’s looking like 2022 will certainly be an eventful 12 months for autonomous delivery technology.

Social plus omnichannel commerce

In retail, “omnichannel” means using all of the avenues available to reach customers and provide services – plus increasingly, this means social media and social selling. Nevertheless, rather than just letting clients connect and buy through any channel – offline stores, websites, Facebook, Instagram, etc. – it means offering the “joined-up” experience. For example , a customer might want to place a good order for an item through a business’s e-commerce site, then check the status associated with their order via Facebook messenger, and then pick this up in-store when it arrives.

Providing a coordinated customer encounter across all of the particular channels – and new ones like metaverse or extended reality, as they become available – is the key in order to capitalizing about this trend. Brands will also put an increased emphasis on social selling. This encompasses almost all the ways that social press can be used to create direct selling opportunities, either through establishing new sales portals, promoting products in existing channels, or collaborating with influencers and brand ambassadors to build entirely new revenue streams.

To manage the technologies side of this, retailers will look to deploy “headless” architecture – an e-commerce infrastructure that separates customer experience such as UI plus front-end from the back-end transactional and inventory management processes. This enables a far more agile approach to omnichannel marketing by encouraging “plug-and-play” functionality whereby suppliers can easily add, for example , voice control, chatbot, text message ordering, or even whichever brand new user experience or product sales technology features they want to build into their stack.

Resilient plus secure retail

Given everything that has occurred over the last two years, this isn’t amazing that resilience is a key buzzword inside all areas of B2C procedures going in to 2022. Particularly in off-line retail, covid (and some other possible future pandemics) security is a hugely important element of this trend. For instance , we can be prepared to see technology deployed to encourage and monitor social distancing, like the Voxel51 platform that uses computer vision in order to monitor traffic footfall and warn of dangerous build-ups in congestion in crowded areas. Another solution, developed by Wipro , uses heat vision to monitor the temperature of people in crowds, potentially providing early warning of viral infections. It can also monitor compliance with facemask regulations.

Resilience is usually also essential in the particular face associated with global disruption to supply chains that have caused business interruption and supply shortages in recent times. Inside 2022, all of us will see an increase in the deployment of technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) and blockchain to produce more robust plus trustworthy supply chain processes. Although these won’t necessarily make businesses entirely immune from disruption by volatile world events, they make this more straightforward to trace the source of disruption when it occurs and put measures in position to mitigate damage. They will help identify opportunities to build within redundancy, such as building alternative backup supply stores, as well as regions of business that can be moved closer to consumers, in order to further reduce risk whenever things outside of a company’s direct control break down.

Read more regarding these and other future trends in my new book, Business Trends in Practice: The 25+ Trends That are Redefining Organizations .