The past year has been challenging for every industry. With lockdowns and restrictions due to the pandemic, retailers have had to reimagine how they do business, utilizing new methods to offer convenience and safety to customers and staff alike. Retail trends that were rising in popularity, such as online shopping, have become even more popular amidst the pandemic, as they offer convenience and open more revenue opportunities. Other technology trends have also emerged as retailers have adapted to social distancing guidelines and customer preferences. Looking ahead, retailers should focus on these five must-have solutions to improve their customer service and equip their business with the tools to handle anything that comes their way in 2021. Here’s a peek at what retail technology in 2021 will look like:
In 2021, a cash register with a card reader and no other payment options won’t be enough. Contactless and other non-traditional payment technology will become must-have solutions for retailers to adopt this year. Younger generations pay with cashless technology every day, preferring to pay with their cards or smartphones for greater convenience and ease. Retailers must anticipate this trend and consider accommodating a range of payment options, including contactless, cardless, and eWallet payments.
Alternative payment methods are not only convenient; they’re safe. Contactless payments have been critical for limiting the spread of harmful pathogens between customers and staff. As government restrictions lift and the COVID-19 vaccine reaches larger portions of the population, many customers will continue to prioritize their health and safety. Retailers should plan accordingly to help make their customers feel comfortable returning to in-store shopping.
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Kiosks are a crucial addition to retail technology in 2021. Self-service kiosks are another technology that will minimize face-to-face interaction. Instead of communicating with a sales associate to locate an item, customers can utilize self-service kiosks to locate and browse items in-store and online, with endless aisle capabilities. With kiosk technology, customers can limit interactions, and retailers can reduce labor costs.
While kiosks won’t replace your employees, they can take over basic functions so that staff can help out in areas where they’re needed, such as at the checkout during peak hours. Retailers can also utilize kiosks to collect customer feedback to make informed business decisions and marketing choices. All in all, self-service kiosks contribute to improved customer experience, making them a technology solution worth the investment.
eCommerce trends were accelerated by the pandemic, with their popularity expected to continue, if not increase, during 2021. Online shopping was crucial for retailers during lockdowns, allowing them to shift business to their online store when government regulations forced their doors to close.
Online shopping was in high demand before the start of the pandemic. The challenges in 2020 only caused eCommerce to permeate the retail environment even further. The convenience of shopping online and having your items delivered to your doorstep is too much of a siren’s call for consumers to resist. For consumers with busy lifestyles or those who aren’t near to brick-and-mortar locations, eCommerce is the perfect solution that allows consumers to shop their favorite brands, anywhere, anytime.
Online shopping isn’t just beneficial to the consumer. It benefits the retailer in multiple ways, as well. By setting up an eCommerce store, retailers can gain access to a broader reach of customers worldwide. Unlike most brick-and-mortar stores, online stores are open 24/7, allowing for more consumer traffic in a given day. Online stores also offer lower operating and set-up costs for retailers who don’t necessarily need or can’t afford a brick-and-mortar location. What’s more, most eCommerce platforms provide real-time data and analytics on consumer shopping patterns that can help retailers make decisions to better their business. Lastly, adding eCommerce to your existing brick-and-mortar sales gives you access to an additional revenue stream.
Related to eCommerce, retailers can and should offer their products on social media platforms. Consumers are spending more time on social media sites than ever before, whether on a desktop or mobile phone. However, consumers aren’t just scrolling; they’re shopping. Many popular platforms have shopping options, for example, the product marketplace on Facebook, shoppable posts on Instagram, and buyable pins on Pinterest. Retailers can use these social media platforms for advertising their products and allow consumers to purchase directly from the social site, rather than redirecting consumers to another website.
By offering products on these platforms, retailers can benefit from their fast-paced, convenient quality. Quick and impulsive purchases become incredibly easy on social media, especially if retailers partner with an influencer. An influencer can post about your products and recommend them to their large following, giving your brand tons of exposure. Social commerce is also helpful for retailers who want to target younger demographics, as they are the majority of social media users.
One downside to online shopping is that most packages take an estimated three to seven days to be delivered. This wait time is inconvenient for customers who didn’t plan ahead and ordered something last minute. Retail technology in 2021 will include solutions that empower same-day delivery. Retailers should offer same-day delivery in checkout options on their online store. This way, customers can place their order online and be assured they will receive their package within 24 hours.
By offering same-day delivery, retailers can enjoy more than just increased customer satisfaction. When retailers partner with a local courier with no requirements on the amount of product being shipped at one time, retailers can expect lower shipping costs and fewer vehicle expenses. By outsourcing to a courier that offers same-day delivery, retailers won’t have to worry about maintaining a fleet of vehicles themselves. Same-day delivery also increases efficiency by speeding up shipments, resulting in higher profits and a better brand reputation.
By staying up-to-date on these technology trends, retailers can step up their game. Leveraging technology trends will allow retailers to remain competitive and relevant in an industry that is always evolving and changing. 2020 taught many retailers hard but valuable lessons; 2021 is the year retailers put these lessons into practice.
Touch Dynamic provides business-saving retail technology in 2021, empowering retailers to work smarter and save money in every area of their business. Contact our team of experts to learn more about our lean and rugged retail POS hardware that will help your store thrive in 2021 and beyond.