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GUEST COMMENT What innovations will be shaping retail across 2020?

Images of the retail sector can often be bleak depictions of empty highstreets and closing stores. However, as conversations around the state of retail weigh on, retailers for the most part hold onto their optimism that retail isn’t dying, it’s simply evolving.

In order to adjust to this evolution, retailers are adopting game-changing technology to keep up with the shifting customer demands placed on the retail sector today.

With more and more retailers reporting on the success of their digital transformations, each year we see new trends on what technology brands will be implementing. For example, Amazon made waves when it decided to make its mark on the physical retail space and piloted its Go Stores which use a combination of computer vision, machine learning and sensor technology to automate the payment and checkout process.

This removes the need for customers to queue as payment is managed automatically through the user’s Amazon account.

It’s not just the global brands that are leading the way with technological advancements in retail. There are a multitude of opportunities for challenger brands to thrive in the increasing digital retail landscape.

Augmented reality-powered mirrors

Augmented reality-powered mirrors are set to become increasingly more popular within the retail industry in 2020. These innovative mirrors use both artificial intelligence and augmented reality to revolutionise the shopping experience in a number of different industry applications, such as fashion and beauty. This technology is able to map and analyse data to provide customers with personal recommendations in real time.

Furthermore they are also able to provide retailers with valuable insights into customer preferences and, as a result, improve their offerings and relationships with customers. Research has found that 55% of those surveyed claim that augmented reality in a shopping experience makes it more fun and enjoyable.

Additionally, augmented reality-powered mirrors can also be used as a way to order items, much like a kiosk. Customers are able to get an idea of what something looks like before making a purchase. RFID technology can also be integrated into these smart mirrors. This technology is able to inform the customer for example what sizes or colours are in stock.


Virtual dressing rooms

E-commerce shopping has boomed in the past few years and retailers have been challenged with finding a new way to excite their customers. Virtual dressing rooms are a new way of shopping as opposed to the traditional brick and mortar equivalent, with 60% of surveyed individuals experiencing virtual reality while shopping.

Similar to augmented reality-powered mirrors, virtual dressing rooms allow customers to try on clothing. With a virtual dressing room, customers are able to try on clothes, compare sizes, and colours using an avatar of themselves. Customers are becoming more demanding and telling retailers what they really want.

From this customer feedback, retailers know that trying on the items before making a purchase is important to them. More and more retailers are creating apps that allow customers to do just this, enabling them to fully visualise what they are buying.


Facial recognition technology

Facial recognition technology has become more popular in the last few years with retailers and will continue on an upward trajectory. This technology is being used to help combat shoplifting with research highlighting a 34% decrease in crimes reported by retailers when implementing facial recognition technology.

Although facial recognition is hugely beneficial, retailers need to keep in mind how it may affect their customers and how it will be perceived by them. One way to avoid any negative feeling is to inform and explain to customers why facial recognition technology is being used, building the customer’s trust and loyalty.

Facial recognition is not only being used for security purposes but also to enhance customer services. It can be used in conjunction with other platforms to provide access to data on customers, including how often a customer visits a store and what they purchase. By having this information, retailers are able to tailor the shopping experience to a specific individual, creating an improved customer experience.

Technology is constantly evolving and offering retailers new and creative ways of improving the customer experience, with large retail shows such as NRF showcasing what’s on offer. 2020 is set to be a big year for augmented reality-powered mirrors, virtual dressing rooms and facial recognition technologies. It will be exciting to see how these technologies impact the retail industry in as well as other technologies that may evolve and offer opportunities to retail in the future.

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