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ANALYSIS Six technological innovations and start-ups that will drive the retail sector

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Technology is driving retail, both online and in store, but what are the seven key technologies and why do you need them? StartUs, a start-up and innovation scouting network has analysed more than 8000 start-ups and identified six key emerging technologies that are set to help retailers stay ahead of customers’ expectations.

So here are the key things all omni-channel and would be omni-channel retailers need to be au fait with…



Some 82% of consumers already consulting their smartphones before finalising their purchase decision, the trend toward mobile devices will continue its significant influence on the retail sector. 

Retailers need to not only optimise their websites to be mobile-first, but also will need to start adding emerging technologies such as AR and VR to enhance apps, smart packaging or upgraded mobile payment models to their business strategies to increase convenience for customers finds the same body of research.

SplitIt provides a unique way to make retail purchases by removing a barrier that often stops consumers to finalize a purchase. SplitIt 360° offers consumers to pay by using their existing credit cards and divide the total cost across as many interest-free payments as they choose.



Augmented reality 

Augmented reality (AR) is one of the most common technologies already adopted by savvy-retailers, globally. As brick-and-mortar stores increasingly face challenges due to the rise of ecommerce, traditional stores are on a journey to transform into showrooms. AR, in turn, will support retailers to improve the customer-retailer relationship through a utility of smart dressing rooms,  beacons, or AR catalogue app-resulting in a more engaging and exciting shopping experience, and thus higher sales intake.

Paris-based Augment connects on- and offline channels through an augmented reality platform, therefore creating a seamless omnichannel retail experience.


Virtual reality

Utilising virtual reality (VR) in physical stores massively expanded customer-conversion opportunities finds the report.

Retailers can draw from two core from two core application cases. Firstly, the creation of new interactive experiences and redesign of physical stores will entice customers to visit the store.

Secondly, the virtual demonstrations of product in situ holds a great potential, as has been demonstrated by the clothing and cosmetic industry. Virtual reality offers to create a personalised shopping experience, thus overall improving it.

Virt brings ’reality into virtual reality.’ The start’s technology allows retailers to upgrade from a simple product or store photos to a virtual walk-through tour by using a 360-degree video rover which maps a location before deploying it cross-platform.



Artificial intelligence 

Through understanding, customer behaviour and preference anticipating what shoppers will purchase next-forward looking retailers will make use of artificial intelligence (AI) to drive sales, reveals the same body of research.

AI has a history of high accuracy as famously demonstrated by Target which predicted pregnancy and due date of a 23-year old back in 2012 is forecasted to eventually replace shopping assistants, and instead assist shoppers with chatbots and voice-assisted devices.

French startup Planorama makes use of deep learning algorithms and neural networks to equip vendors with actionable insights based on shelf pictures. Through leveraging AI, their solution analysed and recognises millions of products online.


Internet of Things

In the retail industry, the Internet of Things (IoT) allows for the gathering of data which is further analysed to enable more informed decision-making when it comes to stock control, product placement, and increased efficiency. RFID, NFC tags as well as different sensors are used for tracking items through the supply chain and keeping an eye on in-store inventory in real-time.

Another application for the IoT in the retail industry is the utilisation of iBeacons to send consumers notifications on their smartphones when passing by a store in a pursuit to increase sales.

Israeli WiseShelf develops a solution that is designed to improve stock status visibility via an appliance that is mounted on top of any standard retail shelf. Dozens of light sensors detecting the light level above them allow for a visual presentation of shelf planogram and can highlight products that need attention or special promotions.



Big Data 

Consumers provide retailers with various data sources, however, this data is only valuable once they can make sense of it. The possibilities of big data range from forecasting product demand, optimising the price range (markup and markdown optimisation) to identifying target audiences.

Berlin-based MiNODES’ solution understands and retains customers. The startup provides consumer insights through a big data SaaS solution by integrating a comprehensive set of technologies and tools, including state-of-the-art WiFi, beacon, and camera technology.

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