It may not always seem like it, but the retail industry is always changing. With the growing influence of e-commerce, brick-and-mortar retailers are under constant pressure to keep up with industry trends and changes. If retailers aren’t able to keep up, they risk being left behind and losing out to competitors. With that in mind, we wanted to share some of the projected retail tech trends that retailers should be watching closely and adapting to in 2024 and beyond.
Retail Tech Trends: AI Impact
Artificial intelligence has already started to have a meaningful impact on the retail industry and that is only going to grow in 2024 and beyond. There is a growing list of ways that AI can personalize the shopping experience, improve customer loyalty, and increase brand recognition for a retailer.
Between smart AI carts, self-checkout scales, smart scales, and other forms of AI, more tools than ever can allow retailers to give their customers a better experience. More importantly, these types of technology are becoming more accessible for retailers of all sizes, making it realistic for all brick-and-mortar shops to incorporate AI and emerging technologies into their everyday operations.
Customer Service Remains Important
To be fair, this isn’t necessarily a trend because good customer service has never gone out of style. But given the importance and growing role of technology, it’s worth mentioning that customer service will remain as important as ever in 2024. Customers still expect their questions to be answered and their needs to be met every time they walk into a retail store.
Even with tools for autonomous shopping being used, customers still want a shopping experience that’s positive and as efficient as possible. The key is being able to use new technologies to provide quality customer service while also recognizing where there are gaps that employees need to fill in to keep customers happy.
Retail Tech Trends: Changing Payment Methods
Changes in payment methods started long before 2024 and they aren’t going away now. It’s no longer a choice between cash or credit. Customers expect to be able to use multiple apps on their phones to complete transactions and will have a negative impression of brick-and-mortar stores if they aren’t compatible with those payment methods. This can even include accepting cryptocurrencies and other forms of alternative currencies.
The good news is that self-checkout stations and smart shopping carts make it easier to accept a wide range of payment methods. Therefore, retailers that embrace these technologies will be better able to keep up with the changing retail tech trends that demand diverse payment methods in 2024 and beyond.
Focus on Employees
Of course, the main focus of retailers should always be the customer. However, there will be a growing emphasis on employees in 2024. Employees still have a key role in the success of a retail business, and most businesses are starting to recognize that. Don’t forget that any business benefits from being able to maintain employees for the long run and have consistency when it comes to staff personnel.
Therefore, retailers must emphasize employee retention. With that in mind, we must stress the importance of training employees on new technology to enhance their skills and allow them to wear a variety of hats within a retail setting. In other words, employees no longer have specialized jobs within a store. Everybody is trained to handle any task or duty that’s required of them on any given day. By investing in employees like this, they stick around longer and are more invested in seeing the business succeed
Retail Tech Trends to Help Employee Shortages
Why is it important to give employees more training and entice them to stay longer? Many brick-and-mortar stores are still struggling to find an adequate number of employees to fill every available shift. Stores that are short-staffed aren’t likely to be fully relieved of that burden in 2024. This creates an even greater need for retailers to use technology that can make it easier to handle employee shortages.
For instance, smart shelving solutions can reduce the need for employees to perform some time-consuming job functions, such as inventory management. This will reduce how many staff members need to be assigned to tasks. Therefore, stores will be able to operate with fewer employees or reassign employees to tasks that can improve the customer experience in other ways.
Small But Efficient Stores
The days of giant retail locations are starting to come to an end. The average square footage of new retail locations opened in 2023 was considerably smaller than what we were seeing five or 10 years ago. This is a trend that figures to continue in 2024. Retail businesses that plan to open new locations will have to learn how to serve customers in a smaller space.
Obviously, this won’t be easy and will take some time to adjust. Fortunately, technologies like our smart self-checkout stations can reduce customer wait times and reduce the space needed for customers waiting in line. This will help retailers to maximize space better and be as efficient as possible with their layout.
The In-Store Experience
As mentioned, customer service is still important, and that includes the in-store experience for customers. Retailers need to be willing and able to give customers more than access to products at a fair price. They need to do more in order to create an experience rather than an errand. Depending on the type of retailer, this could mean providing a relaxation space, a cafe, or something interactive. Hosting events and workshops related to a retailer’s product line also figures to be more important than ever for businesses hoping to thrive in 2024 and beyond.
Importance of Generation Alpha
Retail stores that are still getting used to Millennials and Gen Z better brace themselves for the arrival of Generation Alpha. Of course, it’ll still be several years until Generation Alpha has a lot of money to throw around or is anywhere close to the most prevalent demographic. However, the oldest members of Generation Alpha are becoming teenagers, meaning they will have a growing influence within retail in 2024 and beyond.
If nothing else, their Millennial parents are buying items on their behalf. Therefore, retailers need to start recognizing what types of products members of Generation Alpha need and how they can make in-roads in building loyalty among younger shoppers. The key is understanding that Generation Alpha has grown up with even more technology, which will have an impact on how retailers address their needs and start getting a leg up on the competition when it comes to the next generation.
Want to discover how our technology can help you keep up with these retail tech trends and more? Contact Shekel today! We’re keen to help you stay at the forefront of the dynamic retail landscape.