Anna Hee Ustvedt

2021 in retail - 7 technology trends worth considering

It can be challenging to navigate in the world of technology, which, to put it mildly, is evolving at the speed of lightning. Artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, robots, drones, and 3D printers are just a handful of new technologies we have been introduced to in recent years. Besides, the technology world is not without buzzwords, and selling providers can using fancy words easily convince you that they have the solution that can take your business to the next level.

retail trends 2021


To make it a little easier to figure out which technologies may be valuable to invest in in the new year, we have compiled an overview of which technologies our research tells us will trend in 2021.


1. AR and VR for online and offline retail

Both augmented reality and virtual reality are useful tools to facilitate consumers' decision-making process and give them experiences beyond the ordinary - whether they shop online or offline. Especially in e-Commerce, the implementation of the technologies has been a growing trend in recent years, but many physical stores have also begun to find creative ways to add AR and VR. 

Examples of retailers who have used AR to improve their customer journey online are IKEA and Dyrup. IKEA has developed an application to allow customers to virtually see what more than 2000 products look like in their homes before deciding to buy. This means that customers do not have to go to a physical IKEA store to experience the products in real life. At the same time, they get a more realistic picture of what a product looks like in their own home instead of simply imagining it based on the room constellations IKEA has set up in their stores.

Dyrup's implementation of AR is expressed through a so-called "color selector" on their website. The customer can upload pictures and see how, for example, their living room or kitchen will look painted in different colors. The customer does not have to buy several color samples to take home and try on the walls.

The international cosmetics brand L'Oreal uses AR in their store with the ModiFace application. On a screen, customers can see the effects of various cosmetic products on their face. That way, customers can easily and quickly assess what kind of make-up looks good on their face without trying it on.

In Denmark, the kitchen chain Invita is a pioneer in using VR in a physical store. In the chain's 21 stores, the customer with VR glasses on can see kitchens in a realistic version and get a better sense of the room distribution than if they just saw the individual products in the store.


2. Personalization using technology

We already know how valuable it is to collect and analyze customer data. With access to customer data, it becomes possible to create a customized and personalized customer experience for the individual customer. In addition to increasing your chances of creating additional sales, you give customers a sense that you know them, and it will make them feel special.

With Raptor technology, it is possible to track your customers' movements around your webshop, translating this data into personalized product views. When your customer visits a product page, you can display a recommendation on another product below based on what they have previously clicked on. You can also show them suggestions for relevant complementary items, such as a pair of running socks for a pair of running shoes. Many choose to inspire their customers with products that other customers with the same search interest have looked at.

Read much more about how you can turn up the personal customer experience in your webshop with Raptor here.



3. Marketing automation

Many industries have realized the potential of marketing automation, and retail is no exception. Retailers automate their marketing efforts to strengthen customer engagement, optimize workflows, and create a good customer relationship.

About 86 percent of consumers leave a webshop without making a purchase. This means that you lose over half of your potential income on visitors who change their minds or simply forget to complete the purchase. To avoid this, consumers must remain engaged, and you ensure this by: sending the right message, at the right time, to the right person, through the right channel - this is precisely what a marketing automation system helps with.

With a marketing automation system, you can, using data about your customers' behavior on your webshop, track and analyze what they are interested in. You can then send them targeted and relevant content across your channels and nurture them throughout the buying process. You can also reward existing customers who visit your webshop regularly.


4. Loyalty programs

The purpose of a loyalty program is to give customers a good experience and gain access to valuable data.

With a loyalty program, you get the opportunity to tell your customers that you notice them, value them, and want to reward them, and they will undoubtedly appreciate that. Humans enjoy being rewarded - whether it is in the form of points, discounts, or products. Through a loyalty program, you reward your customers when they perform specific actions. This can be, for example, every time they buy from you, every time they buy for a certain amount, or every time, they buy your private label.

In Matas' loyalty program Club Matas, customers earn points every time they shop, and so-called "stripes" every time they shop for more than DKK 200. When enough points have been collected, they can be used in a points shop, and when there are collected enough stripes, they can be used to choose a personal advantage – e.g., more points or a discount on a perfume.

When your customers sign up for your loyalty program, they also give you access to valuable data that can provide you with insight into their behaviors, habits, and preferences. It can help you to target offers to the individual customer's wishes and needs. If you know what the customer needs and give them a personal experience where they feel seen and heard, they are much more likely to show you loyalty - and it will show on the bottom line.


5. Gamification

Gamification is a trend that has primarily emerged with the advent of smartphones and which is a valuable tool for creating great customer experiences and increasing brand awareness. With gamification, you make shopping a little more fun for your customers. Instead of trying to convince them to interact with your business, you use gaming techniques to create experiences your customers can't resist. At the same time, you make sure they remember you until the next time a need arises.

The general definition of gamification is that it is a process in which game elements are added to something that is not already a game - to increase user engagement, joy, and loyalty.

You can read more about creating great customer experiences and increasing brand awareness with gamification and loyalty programs here.


6. Subscription solutions

Whether it is monthly or seasonal, subscription-based sales are multiplying. Since 2017, the number of monthly visitors to webshops offering subscription solutions has increased by 800 percent, with food and beauty at the top of the list.

It is primarily the convenience that attracts the customers. Today, consumers are presented with countless options when they visit a physical store or a webshop. With a subscription solution, the customer does not have to wander around a supermarket among hundreds of items and decide what to serve for dinner or browse around a webshop to determine which pair of socks is nicest.

Besides, the customer does not have to remember to buy products that are needed regularly. It can be, for example, cotton pads and make-up remover. With a subscription solution, the customer can receive these products regularly.

As a retailer, you get a more secure income with the sale of subscription solutions. When you operate with a pay-here-and-now model, you need to go out more often and attract new customers to secure your income. In contrast, with a subscription-based business model, you have customers who pay you regularly. As payments are determined at the first sale and are recurring, you can roughly predict your earnings each month. This way, you can better make sure that you do not order more products than you need. It is also easier for you to create loyalty, as you can build a bond of trust with your customers over a longer period.


7. Self-service solutions

Self-service solutions are undoubtedly a trend we will see more of in 2021. Not only do consumers appreciate the convenience of not having to stand in line and rely on a salesperson to buy their goods, Covid-19 and the recommendation about minimizing physical contact means that the demand for self-service solutions is accelerated.

Read more about the different types of self-service solutions available and the benefits of implementing a self-service solution in your business here.



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