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Apadmi Retail Series: 10 ways tech has changed the high street

Mar 14, 2017 - Blog

The evolution and technology’s influence on the fundamental business processes within retail has been especially obvious over the past few years.

We commissioned the recent Apadmi retail report and found out what technology changes customer’s value, and which ones they’re still waiting to see within the retail sector.

1. Online via desktop is the preferred method for the majority of age groups

No big surprise – there’s been an obvious and definitive shift online for many retailers. 75% of 18-24-year-olds included in our retail report said they would shop on a desktop before any other medium, with that figure dropping to 50% for 65 and over.

2. Up to ten retail apps competing on one device

One in ten consumers surveyed in our retail report said they could have as many as ten separate retail apps on their smartphone. This highlights the importance to include customer incentives and rewards in order to encourage return visits to the app.

3. At home Augmented Reality (AR) product testing

Our report found that AR is one of the key features that users would like to see included in future retail apps. In fact, over a third of respondents in our retail report said that they’d use AR to preview items before they buy them, whether that’s in-store or at home. The use of AR can be invaluable in the retail industry; it can be used to demonstrate or trial products, like Ikea’s AR furniture fitter.

4. In-store WiFi for a customer omnichannel experience

A key phrase from the retail industry over the past couple of years has been omnichannel.  One way to help achieve an omnichannel retail experience is through the use of in-store WiFi. 46% of our retail report respondents want stores to offer free WiFi to allow apps to automatically sync with latest offers and to provide a seamless transition from desktop, to app, to in-store – providing a unified omnichannel experience for shoppers.

5. Artificial Intelligence (AI) and a tailored shopping experience

AI, like that used in Amazon Go, is an area that has the potential to really revolutionise the traditional retail checkout over the next few years. AI comes in a variety of forms, with many using a machine learning algorithm that gets smarter the more you interact with it. And given that you can also shop with “intelligent assistants” like Siri and Alexa by doing nothing more than talking to your phone, it’s clear that AI remains entwined in the futuristic look of the modern highstreet.

6. Pay via the app and pick up in-store

If retailers cannot implement “just walk out technology” like that used by Amazon Go, users would at a minimum like to purchase products through an app and then pick up their items in-store. The idea of being able to pay for items through an app appealed to over a quarter of those surveyed in our report. This also cuts down on in-store queues and allows employees to focus on improving customer service.

7. A focus on data protection

As more information becomes available for customer profiling, laws and regulations have been passed to ensure that retailers know they have a responsibility to protect such data.

Reflecting this mindset, a huge proportion of our survey admitted that data security was a concern for them. It was a consistent response that spanned age and gender, with 74% saying they were concerned about the security of their information. Retailers need to ensure that they’re taking the steps to protect customer data, both legally and morally. Those that manage to do this successfully will be more likely to reap the rewards of an improved customer experience through the likes of AI, where detailed customer datasets are essential for meaningful results.

8. The capital city downloads the most retail apps

Interestingly, the retail report found that London-based shoppers downloaded more apps than anywhere else in the country. 42% of Londoners downloaded one or more retail app, compared to 29% in rest of the South East.

9. No huge demand for integration with social media

Brand interaction on various social media channels continues to grow in popularity, whether that’s Instagram or Snapchat for millennials, or Facebook for the over 50s. Despite retailers often taking full advantage of social media, like using Twitter for customer service or Facebook Live for promotional campaigns, there was not a huge demand in our retail report for retail apps to be fully integrated with social media. In fact, only 5% of consumers said this was important to them.

10. A good app is a reflection of your brand

61% of our survey respondents claimed that they would delete an app if they came across a bug and that any impaired functionality would damage their perception of the retailer. Regardless of a users’ age, gender or location, it’s absolutely essential that a retail app reflects the brand’s core values, and offers customers something unique that the desktop alone cannot.

About this research

For many retailers, no matter the size, an investment in technology is part of a long-term retail strategy.

Apadmi commissioned a retail report that detailed the opinions of 2,000 shoppers from different demographics and locations in the UK.

You can download the full report here.