The future of retail for 2022

March 11, 2022
23 minute(s)

Covid’s changes in consumer behaviour persist as new buying patterns emerge. In fact, the pandemic has brought changes to the retail world, something that retailers need to align themselves with. It is clear that retailers are more concerned than ever with customising the customer experience and, above all, providing digital services tailored to the needs of the market. In the following, we bring you a small glimpse of the future of retail in 2022. 

Faster your purchase process with cashless technologies

Making purchases without going through a cashier was initiated by Amazon and the model has proven to be successful. Nowadays, this trend is deployed by numerous retailers. This consists of setting up cameras and sensors to monitor the buyer’s activities. Once an item is taken off a shelf and placed in the trolley, the sensors act by automatically charging the transaction.

An App is downloaded to retrieve the QR codes for each product. When the purchases have been made, the buyer simply leaves the store without having to queue up at the cash desk. A few minutes later, he receives his receipt on his smartphone. The amount is debited through the app, too.

The automation of checkout operations has started on a minor scale and in a few shops. However, we can expect an expansion of the trend in 2022 due to the digitalisation taking over all industries. Nevertheless, there is no denying the societal and commercial challenge the retailer faces in implementing this solution.

Indeed, the idea seems controversial, at first sight. Eliminating job positions can impact on the employability, hence the real challenge between lowering operating costs and directing employees to other suitable jobs. Cashiers will be spared from tedious and mundane tasks such as scanning groceries and will be able to focus on more rewarding and value-added tasks.

A more personalized approach to the customer experience

Customisation of the customer journey is still in vogue and will be further enhanced in 2022. Customer experience has become a key factor of differentiation for brands and consumers. While companies used to compete on products and prices, new criteria such as accessibility, ease of use, customer service, etc. have now become more important.

In addition, other factors such as the atmosphere of the store and the decoration of the points of sale have surfaced to give a new impetus to the competition! The same applies to the design of e-commerce sites, via which an enormous proportion of the transactions are carried out. Sensory merchandising is on the rise in this respect. It is about influencing the buyer’s behaviour by appealing to one or more of the senses.

Among the brands using sensory marketing techniques, Rolls Royce, which perfumes the interior of its cars with a unique scent of leather and wood to create an emotional experience and remind people of the luxury of its product. We also mention the brands Zara, Bershka or Stradivarius that broadcast music in their shops by articulating the type and volume to its target (generally dynamic music listened by young people).

For 2022, the customisation of the customer experience will take on a new dimension. The aim is to better understand the role of the factors mentioned above in order to implement a strategy more suited to the target. From a technical point of view, it is a question of providing sales staff with mobile terminals that can provide them with information on the purchasing habits or past purchases made by any customer.

Facial recognition, for instance, allows the customer to be identified as soon as they enter a shop. The sales assistant can then call the customer by name and start a conversation. This technology is already used in China by KFC. On the other hand, Wallmart has developed a technology that can detect the expression of its customers through cameras that sense possible sadness, astonishment or even more facial expressions. This can further support brands in terms of personalising the customer experience.

On the e-commerce sector, the focus will be on developing multiple ways to connect with customers, including chatbots, video chats with a salesperson, product demonstrations. Etc. The use of augmented reality will also play a central role in allowing customers to familiarise themselves with the various products.

We mention the example of virtual fitting rooms to “try on” items with the help of this technology you will be able to choose the item that suits your taste. There is also the example of BMW, which offers a virtual car viewer that allows the buyer to preview the car and see what it looks like, even when parked in front of their own house.

Mind-blowing, isn’t it?

Automated delivery through robots

Delivery can be a burden for both the company and the customer as it can become costly and time consuming. thus, it is obvious to consider a solution that optimises the delivery service. The solution lies in the robotics field. This cutting-edge technology has been on the rise in recent decades. So, who wouldn’t use it for parcel delivery!

The leading example is the American company Startship Technologies, which is attracting interest with its autonomous delivery robots. Since its launch in 2016, the delivery company has made 1.6 million* shipments and plans to expand its business to continental Europe. The deliveries include products and food, of course.

Autonomous and compact, the delivery robot is equipped with sensors and cameras that allow it to avoid any obstacles. It can therefore climb the pavements to reach its destination in a short time. Startship Technologies also offers customers the possibility to follow the robot’s path through an application. Once the robot has arrived, the buyer will be able to pick up the order by unlocking the compartment that contains it, using their smartphone. After the use of robot delivery drivers, it would not be strange to spot drones making deliveries. Promised by Amazon, this technology will be used to ensure deliveries. We should expect the service to be fully operational by 2022.

Coordinated omnichannel for a more social commerce

The omnichannel means using various channels to reach customers and deliver services. Thus, omnichannel implies the use of social networks. Indeed, selling via Facebook, Instagram or other social platforms, in addition to the website and the physical shop, remains one of the preferred options, given its popularity.

This is social shopping, which has gained momentum due to the rise of social media usage. Being constantly connected, especially on their smartphones, mobile users tend to place their orders for products via social platforms, which has created a real opportunity for retailers. As a follow-up, these same platforms provide online shopping and e-commerce capabilities to facilitate shopping.

However, the new trend in 2022 is the proposal of a “combined” experience, i.e., offering customers the possibility to order their item via one platform, consult it via another and collect it from the shop. For instance, a buyer can place an item order via the website, check the status on Messenger (Facebook) and collect it on the spot.

The major challenge for the brand is to coordinate efficiently across all channels. Capitalising on this trend allows for more options and a more customised customer experience. In this direction, companies will put more focus on social selling and take advantage of social media to generate direct selling opportunities. The trend could even include the use of chatbots, the ability to place orders by SMS. The aim is to guarantee more features in terms of sales technologies.

For the retail industry, 2022 looks like an action-packed year! Innovations continue to draw attention to distinguish brands from others. Whether online or offline, businesses need to be up to date to remain competitive. The challenges are real, and the consumers are increasingly tough to capture.

However, it is clearly the case that even this year, the tailoring of the user experience is the overriding trend. This trend can be complemented by relevant technologies such as autonomous delivery or checkout-free shopping. Most importantly, customising the customer experience by taking advantage of omnichannel ensures a multi-dimensional and definitely a successful strategy.    

*Source : Forbes