What has a pack of chewing gum got to do with the rise of digital technology in retail?

The answer is… it was the very first item to have its barcode scanned!

The barcode was rolled out to stores worldwide in 1974, and digital technology in the retail industry has been growing and evolving ever since.

All modern brick-and-mortar stores use digital technology to some degree, from barcodes for inventory management to point of sale (POS) systems for taking payments.

However, there are other ways retail stores can use digital technology to improve the customer experience, and encourage buyers to spend more.

Digital technology and shopping: the state of play

The pandemic has rapidly accelerated the use of digital technology. With customers wanting to limit contact with other people and make the shopping experience as brief as possible, businesses have had to look at how they can adapt.

According to McKinsey, digital customer interactions have increased by 61% from 2019 to 2020.

How can retailers use digital technology in-store?

Although online shopping and eCommerce grew during the pandemic, people still want to shop in stores.

Customers want to see products before they buy them, try on clothes to see if they fit and discover items they may not have thought about purchasing.

Here are some of the ways you can use digital technology in retail stores to your advantage.

Pay without going to the checkout

In 2020, M&S launched ‘Pay With Me’ across 200 of its stores. Rather than wait for a checkout to become available, customers can pay for their purchases in-line. Staff complete transactions using handheld payment devices while customers are waiting in the queue.

Pay with a mobile phone or smartwatch

During the pandemic, cash rapidly fell out of favour, with 83% of the UK population turning to contactless payments.

Both Google and Apple now offer mobile payment options. This means that customers can hold their smart device near a card reader to pay for goods and services.

Use AR to make the retail experience fun

Augmented reality (AR) isn’t just for websites – retail stores can also use this new technology to entertain and educate shoppers.

For example, take Adidas’ flagship store on Oxford Street. Shoppers can scan posters dotted around the store to learn more about new products and the technology they use.

Use image recognition to manage stock

Digital technology isn’t just for customers; it can help staff too.

Retail stores can use image recognition cameras to identify when stock Is running low, meaning staff can replenish shelves and keep customers satisfied.

Use sensor technology to understand more about customers

In the past, retailers had to ask customers questions to find out more about their shopping habits. Now, they can collect this information digitally.

‘Scan and go’ technology can identify what users buy and their journey around the store, based on the order they buy products in. Retailers can use this valuable data to enhance the shopping experience.

In conclusion

There are many ways retailers can use digital technology to make life easier for both customers and staff. We’ve only touched on a few of the different technologies in this article!

Our team will be looking at additional technologies in future articles, so be sure to keep checking our blog for the latest updates.