Report: Future of retail IoT more than beacons
Omnichannel is so 2016, with mPOS, staff handhelds/wearables, camera analytics, interactive mirrors with AI, chatbots, and VR already shaping up as this year’s overused retail tech buzzwords.
At least that's according to ABI Research, whose new report outlines important trends — including 3D sensing — that it believes, while still under the radar, should be top priorities on retailers' technology agendas as they move toward a “smart” retail future.
“Without doubt, mPOS, staff handhelds, camera analytics, beacons, and more all will play key roles in the future of smart retail,” said Patrick Connolly, principal analyst at ABI Research. “But there will also be a number of very important trends that will go largely unnoticed this year which retailers should be aware of and plan for in order to drive new revenue opportunities."
In its report, “Smart Retail: Predictions for 2018, ABI Research identifies a number of key trends that will shape in-store retail IoT:
• Dynamic pricing technologies
• 3D sensing
• Handset-based SLAM technologies
• Next-generation labels and signage
• PWAs, the physical web and the death of native app
• Real-time, in-store inventory management
• Customer and product analytics
Many of the technologies focus on the digitization of the store, whether through its customers, staff, inventory or the physical store itself, ABI noted.
“By combining these technologies with the industry's current hot topics, they will provide ways to deliver new services to customers, streamline processes, measure performance, and drive new revenue,” ABI said. “This is an essential first step in facilitating the move to retail IoT.”
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Study: The first ‘digitally native’ generation shops in stores
Generation Z grew up online, but that doesn’t mean that’s where they do all their shopping.
Sixty-seven percent of Gen Z — the first “digitally native” group to grow up not knowing a world before cellular phones, smartphones and other digital devices — said they shop in a bricks-and-mortar store most of the time, with another 31% shopping in-store sometimes, in a new survey by IBM and the National Retail Federation.
Regardless of which channel they shop, Gen Z is demanding, according to the “Uniquely Gen Z” study conducted by the IBM Institute for Business Value Fifty-two percent of Gen Z consumers will transfer loyalty from one brand to another if the brand’s quality is not up to par. They care the most about retailers getting the basics right, with 66% saying product quality and availability are the most important factors when choosing one brand over another; 65% focus on value.
With the global Gen Z population set to reach 2.6 billion by 2020, retailers need to create more interactive engagement around their brands to serve the “always on,” mobile-focused, high-spending demographic, according to the study.
“Generation Z expects technology to be intuitive, relevant and engaging — their last great experience is their new expectation,” IBM general manager of global consumer industries Steve Laughlin said. “This presents a significant challenge for retailers and brands to create a personalized, interactive experience with the latest digital advances or risk falling behind.
In other findings about Gen Z:
• They have no patience for hard-to-use technology and demand a seamless mobile/digital experience. Sixty-two percent will not use apps or websites that are difficult to navigate and 60% will not use apps or websites that are slow to load.
• Seventy-three percent use their phones primarily to text and chat socially with family and friends, but members are willing to extend their conversations to brand relationships. Forty-two percent would participate in an online game for a campaign and 43% would participate in a product review.
• Less than 30% are willing to share health and wellness, location, personal life or payment information; 61% would feel better sharing personal information if they knew it would be securely stored and protected.
Target is looking for a few good tech start-ups
Target is bringing back its retail accelerator program for a second round.
On the heels of the first Target + Techstars retail accelerator, the retailer said it has opened applications for a second round of the program yesterday, inviting retail-specific tech startups worldwide to apply for a chance to relocate to Minneapolis and embed themselves at Target.
“The lessons we learned last year were hard-won: More than 150 mentors offered 500+ hours of their time and expertise last year to mentor and help accelerate the startups in a brisk 14-week period. And results from our 2016 companies were significant,” the company said in a blog on its website.
In its posting, Target detailed the progress of some of the program’s start-ups, and said it has just made an initial investment in Inspectorio, a company dedicated to quality inspections for textiles and consumer goods in Asia and South America.
In addition, Target just rolled out a 130-store pilot at its stores nationwide for the shift-scheduling and communications app for hourly workers, Branch, which conducted a 10-store pilot in September.
"Our participation in the Target + Techstars accelerator program has been more beneficial to our growth than even our most optimistic expectations," said Atif Siddiqi, CEO, Branch. “The opportunity to leverage the Techstars network and Target’s remarkable support of our efforts within all levels of the company from the C-suite down to the store employees has been transformative for Branch. Target allowed us to test our platform in some of their stores, which has been extremely helpful with tailoring our offering for large enterprise retailers."
In addition to continuing the Techstars program, Target plans to develop and run several new accelerators, including with its Internet of Things (IoT) team.
“Our accelerator experience has only confirmed what we already knew: that working with startups is an important part of fueling innovation at Target, both when it comes to new ideas as well improving the way we work internally,” said Casey Carl, chief strategy and innovation officer, Target.
Target and Techstars will announce the selected startups in July and host a final demo day at the 14-week program’s close in October.