Retail Market Automation Trends 2022: Retail Store Robotics & Automation
The transition in the digital realm has reformed shopping, digital experiences, and even customer expectations in retail stores. The COVID-19 pandemic disruption has shifted the industry, introducing exceptional technological innovations. It is crucial to identify where these innovations will lead us by understanding the technological trends of 2020 and 2021. With our experience in technology and mobile app development, we have identified some of the path-breaking trends that will dominate the future of the retail industry in 2022 and beyond.
The pandemic has given a boost to autonomous mobile robot (AMR) vendors, including those powering robots for use in e-commerce, warehouse and retail operations. The reasons for the rise in demand and popularity of AMRs among retailers, especially food retailers, are easy to understand. The technology is advanced to be used across a variety of in-store functions. In return, this reduces the cost and increases the efficiency of product handling along with increasing the safety of the employees in high-risk spaces. Let us discover the latest Retail market automation trends.
E-commerce has grown rapidly during the last couple of years due to COVID-19 restrictions and fears around retail shopping. This has encouraged businesses to optimize their e-commerce operations to boost their digital presence. Last year, lockdowns and health risks resulted in a record number of retail closures. On the other hand, some retail companies like Walmart and Target generated great revenue last year.
Retailers are always looking for solutions that can enable them to sell products digitally with the same level of accuracy, system integration, and customer satisfaction as in physical outlets. However, just having an online option and an in-person option may not be enough. Businesses will finally have to sync both the domains with e-commerce and POS integration. It is the best solution to seamlessly integrate online and offline transactions, inventory, and promotion around all in-person locations and online stores during the pandemic.
Machine learning & Demand Forecasting
COVID-19 has greatly impacted customer demand in the retail segment. Identifying how to predict and take benefit of these shifts is a vital component of staying ahead of your competitors.
Data is important for the demand forecasting process. By leveraging machine learning, forecasting customer demand becomes significantly more accurate. These innovations enhance automatic demand forecasting, inventory management, relationship management for both customers and suppliers, logistics, manufacturing, and marketing.
Machine learning-based forecasting is more dynamic and adaptive than its conventional counterparts. As machine learning can be implemented quickly, it can follow customer demand trends.
It is possible to improve demand forecasting accuracy by enhancing demand forecasting systems with NLP and cascade models, short-term POS data, and data from external sources. It is what makes machine learning-based demand forecasting a boon to retail as it allows stocking, decreases warehouse and logistics costs and reduces negative environmental impact and supports sustainable consumption and production.
Brands like Amazon and Macy’s have used machine learning in 2020 to great effect. Amazon leverages machine learning to make their system and supply efficient to meet shifts in demand.
Demand forecasting will continue to be relevant after the pandemic too. This is because customer behavior and relationships with shopping technologies have improved rapidly after 2020. Hence, industry experts think that the retail landscape has changed significantly.
Virtual Fitting Rooms
Analysts predicted the rise of augmented reality to more than 100 million consumers by 2020. In 2020, the conversion rate for AR engaged users was increased by 90%. The benefits of augmented reality in the retail industry cannot be challenged.
Virtual fitting rooms are one of the most fascinating innovations in the retail industry that uses augmented reality. Consumers are used to trying the outfit before buying and due to COVID-19 regulations, they are not allowed to do so. Hence, augmented reality is in a unique position to help these retail businesses.
Many businesses faced losses during the pandemic, whereas Sephora used augmented reality in 2020. By using virtual fitting rooms, users could try on their products like cosmetics with their smartphones. As virtual shopping can be done on users’ phones, ARKit is a crucial part of developing augmented reality apps in 2021.
Data Science and Personal Interaction
Personalization plays an important role in the success of the retail industry, with data science and machine learning. On the back of these technologies, customization to offer tailored suggestions is important.
Consumer desires are critical to this technology trend in 2021. By using consumer purchase data to build shopping profiles for particular types of customers, machine learning can adapt to each user to guide their shopping experience. Due to this, e-commerce stores have shown a great level of success with personalization.
But, brick and mortar stores are not behind. Bluetooth Low Energy and RFID use minimal power that can help improve data collection to improve personalization experiences.
Businesses must be aware of user privacy when collecting critical information. Users tend to favor companies that work according to the laws of privacy and security. In the last couple of years, chatbots have become a blessing for e-commerce websites by offering a personalized touch for visitors. Brands can save a lot by offering deals, recommendations and order tracking through chatbots.
With social distancing still practised around the world, cashier-less stores are a crucial retail trend to consider. Customers prefer stores with contactless or self-checkout options.
To achieve this target, RFID tags, computer vision systems, machine learning, IoT devices, and facial recognition can be utilized. Amazon’s Just Walk Out system is also powered by the Amazon Go Grocery model. Particularly, the project leveraged computer vision, sensor fusion, and deep learning. Amazon’s IoT network in the store tracks what consumers place in their cart. As soon as the customer walks through the door, the store will automatically charge the credit card that the customer has on record.
In the near future, we could see a reduction in cross-contact in stores by cutting down the use of touch by customers. Barcodes and QR codes can be scanned by users to get details about the products without touching them.
Artificial intelligence and NLP are on the rise in 2021. Several attempts have been made by Google Assistant, Alexa, and Siri to improve their services. The usefulness of these voice assistants is that they do not actually need a screen to recognize your voice.
The Voice commerce trend is proving to have serious prospects for the retail industry. The IoT devices in people’s homes like smart mirrors and smart displays can help provide product content in useful ways.
Screens are not even necessary these days. With the help of voice recognition, smart speakers only need to hear the user’s voice and respond accordingly. Voice commands can assist customers to find products or even make purchases.
Walmart’s Voice Ordering service is a prime example of this technology. By asking smart speakers to add products to a cart, they can place orders just by voice commands. So, these items can then be available for pickup by Walmart’s employees.
Robots and Autonomous Vehicles
Though traditionally in the name of science and technology, robotics and autonomous technology have started to show their relevance in the retail industry. Supermarket chains are now using driverless cart service to deliver groceries to customers. Walmart is also getting ready to use fully autonomous vehicles for delivery orders in 2022.
Verizon and UPS have announced that they will be collaborating to bring contactless drone retail delivery in Florida this year. One of the main aspects of the technology is 5G connectivity, which enables better air traffic control for the drones to keep them from colliding.
Customer service robotics has been improving this year. Earlier in January, Hyundai launched a robot called DAL-e to a showroom in Seoul. The robot greets customers and helps them find the right car for them. It can also detect when customers are not wearing a mask and advises them to do so.
Robotics is extremely important in inventory management. Computer vision and machine learning play a significant role in machines that can locate misplaced items on shelves and inform staff when certain items are running low and need to be restocked.
COVID-19 has been a definite challenge for the retail industry, however, technology has brought a lot of progress and enhancements in the last few years. Technology like Machine Learning, data science, computer vision, augmented reality and artificial intelligence have proved that any industry can benefit from these advancements. If you are ready to take this opportunity and would like to share your vision with your customers, Nimblechapps is the right place for you with our custom app development services. What do you think about Retail Automation trends? What is your favourite automation trend? Let us know in the comments.
Dhruvil is a Writer & Marketeer for Nimblechapps, joining December 2014, based out of Sydney, Australia. He has worked briefly as a Branding and Digital Marketing Manager before moving to Australia. At Nimblechapps, he worked on Social Media Marketing, Branding, Email Marketing and Blogging. Dhruvil studies Business at University of Western Sydney, and also handles Operations for the company in Australia.