In recent years, the retail industry has experienced a challenging environment following unforeseen events and consumers’ lifestyle changes.

High inflation and the increased cost of living are limiting consumer spending as shoppers re-evaluate their priorities and cut back on non-essential expenditures. Aside from rapid escalation in the prices of products, higher costs are also impacting retail operations across the entire supply chain, from manufacturing to fuel prices and wages.

Consumer retention is key

Following the changing retail landscape, the customer experience and level of personalisation in stores, content and offers are key for retailers to attain a competitive advantage and boost shopper loyalty.

The preference for an in-store experience remains for many consumers, especially in sectors such as food and grocery, as well as health and beauty. As a result, retailers are adopting new strategies to improve customer experience and keep consumers shopping at brick-and-mortar stores. Retailers are also focusing more on innovative products and personalised services to entice shoppers to spend in their stores.

Mirror technology

Some retailers are installing virtual mirrors in their brick-and-mortar stores to provide consumers with a personalised, interactive and convenient shopping experience. With a virtual mirror, shoppers can quickly see how an item of clothing looks without the hassle and time taken to swap clothing. Smart fitting rooms are also enhancing the shopping experience.

In clothing brand COS’ stores, smart fitting rooms allow consumers to request items without leaving the fitting room. The smart mirrors installed in the fitting room can also recognise products, including size and colour, and offer personalised product and styling recommendations to interested consumers. For consumers who do not have the time or desire to try on products in-store, these mirrors could be revolutionary if rolled out on a larger scale.

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Beacon technology

Beacon technology is commonly used in retail to support proximity marketing. Beacon technology uses Bluetooth to send signals to other smart devices nearby and operate when shoppers have internet access and Bluetooth on their smartphones. Beacons can identify where shoppers are in a brick-and-mortar store and Target shoppers while they are in certain aisles, with in-app ads or incentives to purchase a product.

More recently, retailers have begun using beacon technology to create personalised shopping experiences. For example, shoppers at Target can enter their shopping lists into the retailer’s app, which creates a personalised map route for the shopper around the store, helping them to locate products in aisles and highlighting relevant offers.

The Kroger app also uses beacon technology to send push notifications to shoppers when they are near a specific product or department in the store. The notifications inform shoppers of relevant offers and promotions and automatically opens their loyalty card barcode at check-out, offering shoppers another opportunity to save money.

To stay relevant and profitable, retailers must focus on streamlining their operations to reduce unnecessary costs and offer new and exciting personalised shopping experiences using digital tools.