As digital technology becomes increasingly ubiquitous, we see it implemented in creative ways in our day-to-day lives, especially given the current state of the world. From the prevalence of navigation apps to futuristic flair in brick-and-mortar stores, technology utilization, especially in the area of smart shelving and digital wayfinding systems, has reimagined traditional shopping experiences. Here, we’ll go over how this digital wave in retail can enhance the consumer experience at the grocery store and what it means for you as a fabricator.
Recent Trends in Retail That Are Here to Stay
The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has expedited the adoption of certain trends—a game-changer for pretty much every industry, and retail is no exception. Although individual consumers’ personal situations vary, most have become less comfortable with leaving their home to make in-person purchases. People are also being more cost-effective with their purchases, opting to buy necessities rather than superfluous goods, given the employment uncertainty accompanying the pandemic. Stores have taken extraordinary measures to ensure the safety of employees and consumers alike, including some you may not have previously thought of:
- Restructuring store layout and use of more mobile smart shelving
- Installing digital waysigns to guide foot traffic
- Increasing fresh air intake in HVAC systems
- Minimizing touch points at shelves including glass refrigerating cases
Keep in mind that there are also consumer behaviors that are likely here to stay even long after the pandemic is over:
- Intent to purchase. According to the National Retail Federation, “Prior to COVID-19, consumers took time to browse in a store and potentially make a purchase. Now, shoppers are going into stores with a clear intention to buy and retailers are seeing higher conversion rates.” This new “get in, get out” culture of shopping solidifies the need for comprehensive digital way signage that helps consumers find exactly what they need, and quickly.
- Contactless payment & self-service. According to Samsung, the U.S. pre pandemic was not widely using contactless payment as much as our friends across the pond. “More than 50 percent of the transactions in Europe are being done contactlessly as compared to less than 20 percent in the U.S.” But this may not be true for long. COVID-19 has likely accelerated this shift to contactless and is predicted to overtake cash in the near future.
In the same vein, consumers are less likely to interact with store staff and are turning more toward self-service. According to a recent report by Mordor Intelligence, the self-service market is projected to grow to “68.01 billion by the end of 2025.”
- Augmented Reality (AR) & Virtual Reality (VR). As reported in the Global Augmented Reality & Virtual Reality Market Research Report 2020, the AR and VR market “is projected to account for a revenue of $1,274.4 billion in 2030, rising from $37.0 billion in 2019…” Some retailers have realized the value of AR to encourage the conversion process. For example, many jewlers now use AR to show exactly how a piece of fine jewelry will look or feel in-person. Other retailers offer virtual tours of their stores to make the customer journey quick and painless. In addition, the cost of VR has come down in recent years, allowing for the technology to be more readily available to retailers than before.
From touchless interactivity and contactless payment methods to digital signage and store layout, every successful retail business aims to make the consumer’s purchasing experience convenient. Your retail customers may be considering all of the above. As a fabricator are you involved in the conversation? What are some common questions you have received lately from retailers? Is there a common paint point that has come to a head amid the pandemic and how can you pivot operations to provide the solution?
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