It’s never been easier to communicate with customers. Today’s smartphone-wielding, app-loving consumers share tons of great data with retailers, engage with brands from a variety of devices, and complete purchases while on the go. But mobile usage isn’t just driving digital sales — it’s also giving brick-and-mortar stores a makeover. The hottest retail technology trends for 2015 are all about enhancing the in-store shopping experience.
Here are five tech trends retailers can’t afford to ignore:
1. TALK THEM THROUGH THE STORE WITH BEACONS
These low-energy devices detect and communicate with mobile devices and apps, giving retailers a better way to engage with in-store shoppers. Beacons allow you to greet customers by name, share offers, send alerts, make personalized recommendations, and even provide indoor mapping. And customers love the special attention: 60% of shoppers open beacon-triggered content, 30% redeem beacon-triggered offers and 73% say these offers increase the likelihood they’ll make a purchase.
2. MAKE IT EASY TO PAY VIA MOBILE
U.S. consumers have been slow to embrace mobile payment options, but Apple Pay — which 1 million people activated in its first three days of use — might just change that. Whole Foods has processed more than 150,000 Apple Pay transactions, and McDonald’s says it accounts for half of all tap-to-pay transactions.
Other mobile payment solutions have also gotten a boost from Apple Pay’s popularity. Since its release, both the Softcard app and Google Wallet have been downloaded and used more frequently.
3. ENGAGE THEM WITH WEARABLES
Wearable technologies such as Google Glass and the Apple Watch provide a new touchpoint for retailers. Through these devices, they can engage consumers with timely, personalized, location-based content. Currently 21% of consumers own a wearable, with 130 million more expected to ship by 2018. And shoppers use these gadgets to interact with their favorite brands: 51% of Millennials want wearable tech to provide them with retail information and offers, as does 45% of the general population.
4. ROUTE TRAFFIC AND PERSONALIZE IN-STORE ADS WITH SENSORS
People overestimate how long they’ve waited in line by 36%, and then gripe about it to their friends. But new infrared sensor technology lets stores reroute customers to checkout counters with shorter lines. Kroger’s QueVision has reduced the average customer wait time from four minutes to less than 30 seconds.
Smart shelves with sensors also enable brands to personalize marketing for in-store customers. Multinational snack maker Mondelez International uses sensors to track the ages and genders of passing shoppers and display offers that match what those demographics tend to buy.
5. OFFER A VIRTUAL SHOPPING EXPERIENCE
For retailers with small spaces and/or large product offerings, future display technology lets customers view and purchase items that aren’t in stock. For example, at Audi City storefronts in major cities around the world, car shoppers can virtually experience the entire range of Audi models.