How technology is transforming traditional retail outlets


This article is brought to you by Retail Technology Review: How technology is transforming traditional retail outlets.

By Alistair James, freelance writer.

Retail has faced many challenges since the turn of the millennium. From the rise of online shopping championed by global organisations such as Amazon to temporary closures during the first two years of this decade due to the Covid-19 pandemic, brick-and-mortar stores have had to navigate a turbulent environment that continues to change year on year.

In addition to the ever-shifting nature of the industry, the problems of those working in the retail industry are being exacerbated by the current cost-of-living crisis. Footfall at UK retailers plummeted by 27% after Christmas, signalling a limited spending trend for 2023 as consumers cut back on non-essential purchases.

However, while it may be a difficult year ahead, there is still a place for the physical shop in retail. As convenient as online browsing can be, there is no replacement for being able to test-run products in the flesh. And, of course, operations such as beauty salons will always see steady footfall. If you feel you need guidance on how to not only survive but thrive this year, consider speaking to experts who can advise on business strategy and help you put together a comprehensive plan of action for 2023.

One of the best ways to attract customers to your brick-and-mortar store is to introduce technology. From analysing the behaviour of your clientele to hone your in-store experience to using virtual reality to help bring scenarios to life, technology is proving to be a winner with UK consumers. Combining the physical and virtual provides your customers with the best of both worlds and will help you to keep a steady stream of visitors despite the difficulties of the current climate.

How can you use technology to enhance the retail experience?

There are many ways that technology can enhance the retail experience for the consumer. Brands who have introduced digital into their retail offering are seeing soaring success such as Nike who generated 48% of last quarter’s North American sales via direct retail. Here are some ways that you can embrace technology as part of your own retail experience.

Omnichannel Experience

Stay front of mind with your customers by creating an omnichannel shopping experience.

Essentially, this is using digital technology to integrate online browsing and physical purchasing. For example, use Apps and a great website to advertise exclusive in-store offers. This is a great way of increasing brand loyalty and getting word of mouth recommendations from your current client base.

Livestream Demonstrations

Live demonstrations have always proved popular in retail. They are a great way to excite the senses and prove the functionality of your products, making customers much more likely to see their value.

However, these demonstrations do not have to rely on having a strong physical presence in store. Consider the money that can be made through traditional tele-sales channels! Try livestreaming your demonstration to your client base using your website or App.

Augmented Reality

Larger brands or those who are particularly tech savvy can introduce augmented reality technology to help win over their customers. This involves the creation of virtual simulations that allow your clients to digitally test-drive your products.

IKEA have had great success recently with their App IKEA Place which gives customers a 3D preview of how new furniture will look in their home, helping to tie together the online and in-person shopping experience.

You can also use augmented reality devices in store to allow people to virtually experiment with your products before committing. For example, it is possible for customers to try on clothing and in the virtual world before heading to the changing rooms which saves them time and energy and makes your in-store experience less cluttered.

There are many ways to use technology to transform a traditional retail outlet, and it is clear that it is a sure-fire way to boost physical footfall in 2023.

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