November 25th, 2010

How will technology for retail evolve in the coming years?

As technology continues to move at such a rate and even more sophisticated devices are accessible to all demographics, it is increasingly difficult to imagine what the future of retail may look like from a technology perspective. As we spend more and more time and money on the latest must-have portable gadgets, it is likely retailers will continue to turn their attention toward the phone and Internet. Recent innovations such as the iPhone and iPad are much more interactive than their predecessors, and are being utilised to strengthen the consumers’ connections with its retailer. iPhone apps have now allowed major retailers to offer loyalty applications as well as increasing the ease of compiling online shopping lists by scanning products from the comfort of your own home.

Similarly, the stress of shopping is being removed by Blue Dot technology, which allows customers to check the availability of individual products in nearby locations through a Google shopping search whilst on the move. This is utilised through the GPS signal on the iPhone, palm pixi or android enabled mobile phone, and will tell you the nearest shop to have the product in stock, eliminating the frustrating search for a something particularly hard to find. Following its stateside success by retail giants including Best Buy and Pottery Barn, the launch of this tool in the UK is perfect for both shopaholic consumers who are desperate for the latest must-have item, and those who want to minimise their shopping time. I also regard it as an example of why we must look toward technology to drive footfall back onto the high street: it is proving a great way to revitalise a flagging sector.

The inclusion of Blue Dot in the Google search engine shows that the mobile phone is being taken seriously as a tool in both retail and online success, and as our mobile usage increases, it is key to continue to discover how the retail sector can make the most of these new opportunities in e-commerce and as part of their internet marketing strategies.