Retail Insight Network lists the top five terms tweeted on retail tech in February 2022 based on data from GlobalData’s Retail Influencer Platform.

The top trends are the most mentioned terms or concepts among Twitter discussions of more than 150 retail experts tracked by GlobalData’s Retail Influencer platform during February 2022.

1. Customer Experience – 59 mentions

The increase in demand for customer experience tools from shoppers, live shopping feature launched by Marks & Spencer (M&S), and the ways to improve customer experience and sales were some of the popular discussions in February 2022.

Tony D’Onofrio, CEO of the consultancy firm TD Insights, shared an article on a survey conducted by technology company Broadridge, which revealed that 65% of consumers feel that companies need to improve their customer experience, increasing from 58% in 2021. Furthermore, 77% of consumers stated that they are willing to spend more with a company that offers a good customer experience. Customers also want companies to utilise the latest technologies in communications to improve customer experience. The survey found that 67% of consumers want companies to use predictive analysis to send communications, while 67% want digital interactive documents with customisable sections and 63% want artificial intelligence (AI) to be utilised in customer service. Furthermore, 63% of the consumers stated that they are more likely to respond to personalised and interactive messaging.

In another tweet, Neil Saunders, managing director of GlobalData Retail, a retail consultancy, shared an article on the launch of live shopping by retailer M&S on its website. The retailer partnered with live streaming Software company LiSA to launch the service. The live shopping feature will enable the 13.5 million customers who visit the company’s website to join a live broadcast to browse products, view product demonstrations and buy products. M&S launched the service to improve customer experience and expand its offerings including its digital Click & Collect format and online video consultations service that facilitated 28,000 consultations in just nine months. The live shopping feature also provides a new communication channel with customers to drive brand awareness and gain customer feedback.

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By GlobalData

Bob Phibbs, an expert on brick-and-mortar retailers, shared his article on four ways to boost customer experience and sales. The influencer stated that retailers should create a shopping experience that differentiates them from competitors. He added that employees are key to ensuring that customers are satisfied with their shopping experience. Retailers should ensure that their employees are well trained and have greater confidence while interacting with customers and addressing their needs. Employees should also actively engage with customers by delivering a basic greeting and letting them know that they are available to assist them. Understanding the needs of customers by connecting with them personally will translate into a sale and create a unique shopping experience, while ensuring that customers return to the store for that same experience.

2. Metaverse – 57 mentions

The key to succeeding in the retail metaverse, trademark filed by McDonald’s for its metaverse-based virtual restaurant, and the transformation of online retail in the metaverse, were some of the popular discussions in February.

Ricardo Belmar, a retail expert and host of the podcast Retail Razor Show, shared an article on how community, experience and engagement are the three pillars to succeeding in the retail metaverse. The article highlighted that retailers need to build a community with the intention of providing a unique customer experience in the metaverse. Furthermore, retailers should provide a personalised experience to customers, such as customised live streaming events that enable them to try and purchase a product. Retailers should not try to replicate the online e-commerce experience but build on the existing experience to create a sense of belonging and community in the metaverse. Data related to customer preferences and buying threshold can be used to create targeted promotions related to trending products, the article highlighted.

The term was also mentioned in a tweet by Glen Gilmore, Principal at Gilmore Business Network, a digital marketing and digital transformation firm, on trademark applications filed by McDonald’s for providing virtual goods and services including a virtual restaurant in the metaverse. The virtual restaurant will offer actual goods and services including home delivery. The trademark filed by McDonald’s follows a similar trademark filed by bakery company Panera Bread for downloadable, virtual food and beverage items in addition to non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and options to purchase items in the virtual world.

Another discussion on metaverse was shared by Markus Peter, organiser of Connecta Bern, an annual event organised by Switzerland’s national postal service Swiss Post, on how the metaverse will transform e-commerce. The article detailed that the metaverse will blend in-store shopping and online shopping, similar to livestream shopping that offers customers an interactive experience. Developers, however, need to focus on going beyond gaming and include other forms of entertainment and 3D content to enable retailers to launch advertising campaigns that boost the appeal of goods and services.

3. Online Shopping – 47 mentions

3D and augmented reality (AR) tools launched by Shopify and an increase in demand for logistics space in the UK due to growth in online retail were some of the popular discussions last month.

Michael Lagazo, a retail expert, shared an article on the launch of 3D and AR versions of products by e-commerce platform Shopify in partnership with UK-based AR platform Poplar Studio. The new feature enables online retailers to replicate the in-store experience by enabling customers to visualise the products that they are planning to purchase. Retailers operating on the platform have stated that 3D images have helped in achieving 94% higher conversion rates. Experts have highlighted that retailers are expected to incorporate such technologies in the future to compete with other retailers such as Amazon and the emergence of the metaverse. Several brands such as Burberry, Gucci and NIKE are already experimenting with 3D images and AR, the article highlighted.

Neil Saunders shared an article on the increase in demand for logistics and industrial warehouse space due to growth in online retail. Data from real estate services firm Cushman & Wakefield showed that 70.1 million ft2 of space was rented or sold in 2021, up from 53 million ft2 in 2020. Online retail was the main driver for the increase in space that was rented or sold in 2021 accounting for 33% of the total logistics space. Multichannel retailers rented or purchased warehouse space to serve both online and store-based operations, the article added.

4. Supply Chain – 44 mentions

Supply chain disruptions expected to persist through 2022, Loctek investing in its own cargo ship to circumvent the supply chain crisis, and the importance of sourcing strategy to improve supply chain resilience, were some of the popular discussions in February.

Anne Marie Stephen, global account director at BrightDrop, a motor vehicle manufacturing company, shared an article on how supply chain disruptions that began during the Covid-19 pandemic are expected to continue through the year. The article highlighted that additional investment, new technologies and more ships will be required to address the supply chain disruptions. Shipping companies are facing various issues such as outdated technology and labour shortage, which have been building for several years. Furthermore, supply chain issues are being compounded by a lack of warehouse space despite new warehouse space being added by retailers.

Another discussion on supply chain was shared by Marsha Collier, president of The Collier Company, Inc, a marketing and advertising firm, on furniture manufacturer and retailer Loctek signing a $32.6m contract with Huanghai Shipbuilding to build a cargo ship with a capacity of 1,800 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEU). Expected to be delivered by March 2023, the ship will enable the company to avoid high freight rates and reduce shipping delays. Loctek’s move follows similar steps taken by major retailers to address the supply chain disruptions. Retailers are expected to continue to find new ways to address the disruptions, the article highlighted.

Tony D’Onofrio mentioned the term while sharing an article on the importance of sourcing strategy to address supply chain disruptions. The article highlighted that building strong partnerships, diversity and capacity planning are keys to ensuring the resilience of the supply chain. Developing strong partnerships with vendors that supply critical material will boost mutual trust and commitment that will play a key role in problem-solving during times of disruption. The article also noted that diversifying the source base for critical products is essential to provide flexibility in dealing with supply chain issues. Moving the manufacturing and commercialisation of products to the same location will help in reducing lead time and logistics challenges, the article added.

5. IoT – 34 mentions

The transformation of retail experience by the Internet of Things (IoT) and the applications of IoT in retail, were some of the trending discussions in February 2022.

Cyril Coste, a digital transformation expert, shared an article on how IoT will play a critical role in blending in-store and digital shopping experiences. Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags, for example, will become more prominent and replace the traditional cashier with the rollout of 5G. Retailers will use intelligent technologies and sensors to track items added by customers and bill them accordingly. IoT will also optimise warehouse operations by effectively communicating when stock is low and placing orders to ensure an item does not go out of stock. Another area of application for IoT includes subscription services that will enable retailers to provide hyper-personalised services. Retailers could offer personalised grocery delivery services based on the individual’s preference.

Another discussion on IoT was shared by Andrew Busby, global industry leader retail at Software AG, an enterprise software and technology company, on the applications of IoT in retail. The use cases of IoT in retail include digital signage, customer tracking, inventory management, smart vending machines and other IoT platform-enabled projects. Marketing technology company nuMedia Innovations’ digital host technology PRSONAS, for example, helps in improving customer experience through smart digital kiosks equipped with self-service holograms and virtual sales representatives. The holograms help in increasing brand awareness and analysing customer engagement.