Mobile payments, e-commerce and digital advertising are the most commonly used terms relating to retail technology. New developments in logistics, payment processing and the buying process itself are helping consumers in every aspect.
However retail sales in the U.S. have been slow in the month of April. “Economists surveyed by Bloomberg News had expected a 0.4% increase in April. The muted growth comes after poor winter weather led to choppy retail sales early in 2014. Automakers and brick-and-mortar retailers broadly lamented severe storms that led to weaker traffic at their showrooms and stores.”
We are banking on these three new retail technology advances to jump-start the slumping sales.
- A virtual fitting room: A London-based startup called Fits.me is trying to solve an important problem in retail: merchandise returns. “In the UK if a quarter of business is lost through returns, you have a responsibility to your customers to give them what they want,” commented Heikki Haldre, Fits.me founder and VP of business development. The customer data gathered by the company can also be used for marketing and advertising purposes, which can be invaluable for clothing manufacturers.
- Faster checkouts: Amazon.com has had an advantage in the e-commerce world with their one-click patent, which speeds up the buying process by clicking one button at the checkout. A growing number of retail stores have been using tablets and smartphones to make their checkout process more efficient. Companies such as Square enable store owners to charge credit cards with any smartphone or tablet device. The new advent in retail checkout will be network sensors that are placed around the stores. “Inexpensive sensors also will be attached to (or embedded in) items available for purchase. And the stores will already have your preferred payment information on file, so when you exit the store with your chosen merchandise, you’ll simply be billed automatically, totally skipping any traditional checkout experience.”
- Delivered by drones: Although the Federal Aviation Administration bans the use of drones for commercial purposes – and that may not change until the end of next year – tech giants are acquiring drone startups left and right. Google recently bought Titan Aerospace and Facebook purchased drone maker Ascenta. Amazon has been experimenting with its Prime Air drone, which the company promises will be used to deliver packages by 2015. These tech giants will eventually have a heavy influence on the FAA and we can only see drones being used more for commercial delivery purposes.
Technology has always been about streamlining the process of innovation and convenience. These examples enable customers to have an easier buying process from choosing the merchandise to buying and delivery.
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