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January 5, 2022

Retail tech trends you should pay attention to in 2022

In this article we have included some of the top tech trends retailers should consider for the upcoming year.

Even before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, technology had proven to be such a disruptive force in the global economy. The writing was on the wall, but many retailers ignored it altogether. It was not until the pandemic kicked in that retailers really took an interest in the fast-moving tech bus. Over the past year or so, retailers have had to greatly alter processes, with most of them facing changing consumer behavior, labor shortages, and supply chain chaos. While offline has been hit hard, online retail continues to boom and flourish.

Never has tech been this important in retail. As such, retailers have to look hard at the retail tech trends for 2022 if they want to steer their companies through this drastically altered world of commerce. It’s shape up or shape out time.

Voice shopping will account for $40 billion in U.S. consumer spending by the end of 2022. Voice assistants like Apple Siri, Google Home and Microsoft Cortana have gained traction, with customers turning to voice channels for product search, purchases, and comparison shopping.

2. VR Technology will take center stage

We live in a world where Virtual Reality (VR) is starting to dictate crucial aspects of our lives. In the retail space, this technology helps bring online shoppers closer to products by displaying items in crisp vivid detail. The market size of VR HMDs (Head-Mounted Display) in 2019 was $5.5 billion with a CAGR of 22.3% and is projected to reach $18.6 billion by 2026. With the advent of online shopping, retailers will need to leverage VR technologies to showcase products immersively, creating top- notch buying experiences that customers will find hard to forget.

3. Digital Shelf Labels - Finally viable

The electric self label (ESL) market size was valued at $624.7 million in 2018 and is expected to reach $2.4 billion in 2027, growing at a CAGR of 15.9% there’s no doubt about it - digital shelf labels will be a big deal in 2022. At its core, a digital shelf label is a type of dynamic display system that enables retailers to display product information clearly and concisely. The best part about using this system is that the pricing of the product updates automatically wherever it fluctuates.

“Online shoppers are much more likely to research a brand’s views on topics that matter to them — whether political, social or environmental issues — and are not afraid to walk away if they discover that a retailer’s values contradict their own.”

4. Retailtainement will be more than just a buzzword

At a time when e-commerce is growing at the speed of lighting, “Retailtainment” will prove vital in bringing brick&mortar back to life. We expect it to create the kind of customer engagement that drives people right back to the stores and puts a smile on their faces. Retailtainment, or experimental marketing as entertainment. It entails generating memorable experiences for in-store shoppers through engaging sounds, games, motion, or special settings that create a mood for buying. The NRF (National Retail Federation)Consumer View Report shows that while consumers have more choices than ever, both Gen Y and Zs are visiting retail stores more.

5. In-store robots are finally here

The impact of robots today is multi-dimensional with the integration of digital elements such as cloud and analytics. The global robotics market will clock an estimated $85 billion by 2025. It is believed that half of this will be allocated for the retail market. From autonomous shelf-scanners checking inventory to six-foot-tall free-moving machines spotting spills, robots are slowly but surely rolling into retail.

And this trend is set to continue in 2022. The real benefit of retail robots is the opportunity to capture more granular data about the products on the shelves and customer buying patterns, which can increase efficiency and accuracy in inventory management.

6. Cashier-less and staff-free stores will become more widespread

Although we might have been taught to “look, don’t touch” in stores as kids, these cautionary words seem prescient in light of Covid-19, which has accelerated the growth of contactless shopping experiences. 87% of shoppers prefer to shop in stores with touchless or robust self-checkout experiences, while 74% of global consumers will continue to use contactless payment post-pandemic. As a result, the overall market size is expected to surpass $4.60 trillion by 2027. With these statistics in mind, it’s safe to conclude that staff-free and cashier-less stores are here to stay.

To provide a completely contactless shopping experience, retailers will need to up their game in terms of adopting RFID tags, computer vision systems, facial recognition, and IoT devices. Technologies like these were recently utilized in Amazon’s Just Walk Out system, powered by their Amazon Go Grocery model. Retailers can definitely borrow a leaf from this project.

7. Chatbots will gain even more traction

You can’t talk about trends without mentioning AI chatbots. Chatbots are known to provide a high level of customer service, improve searching, send notifications about new collections, and suggest similar products. If a customer already brought a black hoodie, a chatbot can suggest a snapback to match - and the look would be complete.

80% of brands worldwide are already using or going to use AI chatbots in the near future. Yet this is hardly a surprise given that 70% of millennials who’ve used chatbots say that they’ve had a positive experience. For retailers looking to retain customers and rake in quality leads in 2022, they’ll need to implement logic-based conversation- driven chatbots that allow for easy omnichannel deployment.

8. Click & Collect to continue its industry takeover

After a year or so of collective quantining, many consumers expect to cocoon at home post- pandemic. This means cutting back on in-person services, eating and shopping out less, and relying more on delivery and services like Click & Collect compared to pre-pandemic behaviors. As many as 26% of post-pandemic consumers will continue to purchase products online and pick them in-store.

While Click & Collect is nothing new, its popularity has skyrocketed due to the fact that it offers speed, convenience, and low cost, all of which customers greatly appreciate. In 2020 alone, click and collect sales grew by a whopping 60.4% when compared to the previous year. 2022 will be no different.

9. AR will further shape shopping endeavors

Believe it or not, customers tend to pay more for convenience. As a retailer, there’s no better way to offer a convenient shopping experience than leveraging AR technology. When customers shop in-store, they’re able to see, touch, and feel your product selection. This experience tends to become flattened online, which can lead to less confidence in the product and more frequent returns.

Using AR, however, customers who are shopping online can go a step further by experiencing how a product will appear in their house, on their shelf, or on their kitchen counter. For online retail that means higher margins on existing spend, and a superior, more hands-on experience for customers. In fact, 71% consumers say they would shop more often if they used AR tech, while 40% admit they would pay more for a product if they could first customize it in AR.

10. Social Media Shopping is already a thing, and will become an even bigger phenomenon

There are currently over 4.5 billion active social media users, and roughly 54% use social media to research products. This is creating a groundswell of retailers tapping into social commerce, where customers can make purchases directly from a social media platform. Instagram’s Checkout is leading the charge in this regard, but competitors are in hot pursuit, looking to make the most of this promising marketing channel. For tech-savvy retailers, social media shopping presents an opportunity to increase your in-store and online sales, build lasting relationships with customers, and improve customer’s spending. 2022 is the year to make it all happen.

11. Headless commerce tools expected to deeply permeate the market

Online transactions now happen across a rising number of platforms and on lots of different devices - from mobiles to smart speakers to laptops. Yet, a lot of today’s e-commerce infrastructure was built with just desktop computers in mind. Headless commerce will soon change that. Headless commerce works by separating the user interface (the front-end) from a platform’s core commerce functions (the back-end) like keeping track of inventory and processing payments.

The decoupled architecture gives retailers more flexibility over the kind of shopping experiences they can offer, helping them engage with customers better. More importantly, it allows them to more easily tap into emerging e-commerce mediums like text, voice, mobile, and more. A recent Forbes article revealed that headless commerce is bound to receive a $1.6 billion funding package. So if there’s a perfect time for investing in this ground-breaking technology, it’s now.

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