The retail industry is constantly changing thanks to advancements in technology. Companies have invested in chatbots,  analytical tools and ingenious software for fast and convenient shopping experiences. If you want to stay ahead of the pack, you’ll need to learn the latest retail technology trends which could have a significant impact on your business.

A shopper uses augmented reality retail technology to see what a couch looks like in their living room.

1. Augmented Reality

Not long ago, purchasing furniture meant you would take measurements, keep your room’s color scheme and style in mind and hope for the best. Now augmented reality (AR) technology in retail stores has changed the game. Today, Google’s ARCore and Apple’s ARKit let customers see new products in their homes before making a purchase.

A study by Daymon Interactions showed 61% of shoppers prefer stores with augmented reality experiences, and 40% are willing to pay more products if they can experience AR.

Stores such as IKEA and Wayfair enable customers to use innovative retail technologies to browse products online and use their camera to digitally place it anywhere in the room.

There’s no need to imagine how a product will match with your carpet or wallpaper. Want to find out if the couches will fit in your living room? Easy. How will these decorations complement your space? Just tap to find out.

Apparel stores such as Timberland even let users see themselves in new clothes by standing in front of AR mirrors. That’s a lot faster than going to a fitting room to change in and out of various outfits.

A shoemaker checks out a leather shoe. Retail customers are using technology to customize even mass-produced items.

2. Product Customization

In a sea of mass-produced items, customers want exclusive, personalized products. This has led to the rise of print on demand businesses, such as Printful and Society 6, where shoppers can get custom designed hoodies, blankets, shirts and mugs.

Retail stores have taken this a step further by enabling product customization. The Deloitte Consumer Review found that 36% of shoppers were interested in purchasing customized products, and 20% of shoppers are willing to pay more for items that are made especially for them.

NikeID lets customers create shoes that are uniquely their own. They can customize the arch height, traction, color and reflective elements to make footwear that is suitable for their sport and lifestyle.

Small-time makers are at the forefront of this trend for selling customized shirts, books and other items online. Craftspeople and other artists have established businesses by selling handmade items on Etsy.

You can also give customers the option to order customized products in your online store. However, before you commit to this aspect of the latest retail technology trends, consider the cost of manpower and additional resources you’ll need to create the product.

Women shop on a phone. Omnichannel shoppers use one platform to browse items but make a purchase on a different platform.

3. Rise of Omnichannel Experiences

Customers use multiple platforms to research, browse and purchase products. They might learn about a product through Instagram, shop on the website, call customer service for inquiries and get in touch with chatbots.

Also, digital communication means there’s no need to keep explaining the same problem to customer service every time you’re transferred to another person or have to make a return call. The company has a record of past conversations and can contact you to follow-up and find out if your issue has been resolved.

This ultimately leads to a premium shopping experience where customers are more loyal and satisfied. Harvard Business Review surveyed 46,000 shoppers and found that shoppers who used more than 4 channels spent 9% more than those who only used a single channel. After 6 months, customers with an omnichannel experience made 23% more repeat trips to the retail stores and were likely to promote the brand within their network, than those who only used 1 channel.

Omnichannel experiences can also lead to ingenious marketing campaigns.

For example, Pinterest’s omnichannel campaign began with Pinterest ads featuring their fragrances. Once they identified a segment of potential customers that viewed their ads, they encouraged them to claim a free sample that will be delivered to their doorstep.

After that, they can get a URL to find more information about the fragrance and find nearby stores that sold them.

Leveraging omnichannel experiences let brands interact with customers through a variety of digital and physical touchpoints. They can create campaigns that let them seamlessly interact with customers and learn more about the products.

 Image of shelves of shoes with overlaid augmented reality.

4. Visual Search

We’ve all experienced love at first sight after seeing a shoe or an outfit. We immediately want to find the actual product and spend hours browsing retail stores or scouring Google images. Today, with the latest technology trends in the retail industry, users can simply snap a photo to find an online retailer.

With Pinterest Lens, users point their camera to a plate of food to find the recipe or place their phone camera’s lens on a watch to identify the brand. Pinterest reports that 55% of shoppers believe that visual search is important in developing their personal style. Additionally, 85% of surveyed respondents prioritized visual information more than textual information when shopping for clothes and furniture.

Target integrated its app with Pinterest Lens so shoppers can take pictures of a piece of furniture or decor and find a similar item on their online store. This enables customers to get the products that they want to buy, instead of browsing through a search engine. This is especially useful for fashion and furniture products that have a unique aesthetic.

To leverage Pinterest’s tools, you’ll need to create a business account and upload quality images. After that, use it to identify the keywords that come up when your brand or products’ images are scanned. You can even identify brands associated with your product by checking out related pins.

A woman accepts a package from a delivery person. The option for same day delivery is a big retail technology trend.

5. Same-Day Delivery

We all want to receive the products that we ordered as soon as possible. Thanks to Amazon Prime’s next-day delivery, shoppers are demanding faster shipping from other companies, making same-day delivery capabilities one of the top retail technology trends in 2020.

Almost half of the consumers (44%) surveyed said that they were willing to wait up to 2 days for orders, according to a study by Deloitte. In the same survey, 41% of shoppers were willing to spend for same-day delivery while a quarter (24%) of consumers said they would pay more to receive packages within 2 hours.

Due to the demand for fast shipping, Material Handling & Logistics News reports 580,000 autonomous mobile robots (AMR) are expected to be deployed to warehouses to help fulfill faster deliveries by 2025. More automation can significantly reduce order processing. Warehouses might also struggle with hiring laborers to meet the demand, so drones and automated systems are effective solutions.

To leverage this retail technology trend, start implementing a same-day delivery program for customers that live near your stores or warehouses.  You should also analyze the processes involved in order fulfillment. Talk to the people who take care of online orders and pack items. Identify pick-up and drop-off points, driver availability and other relevant details. You can use this information to implement changes to speed up your deliveries.


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