Increased online spending and the use of smartphones and mobiles by consumers, are the main reasons for today’s Australian retail market to be more competitive, according to David Choi, HP market development manager.
Two-thirds of Australians prefer to shop at a bricks-and-mortar store as per the reports given by Ernst & Young. And 5% of the retail revenues are because of online spending, according to National Australia Bank data.
In Australia, new technologies such as 3D printing, augmented reality, location services, mobile wallets, big data analytics and machine-to-machine systems to appeal to consumers must be utilized successfully in future by Australian retailers , according to industry experts.
In Australia and overseas, the use innovative IT is mainly to improve customer engagement. For example, the use of iPads in restaurants and shops, Woolworths’ and Sportsgirl’s uses interactive advertising walls, Target’s use of big data analytics in the US in order to target the customers with more accurate advertisements.
Innovation doesn’t mean only online store and social media strategy but must also include nice-looking shop and friendly staff. The innovation of 3D printing allows consumers to have personalised manufacturing in the store of their choice, instead of having to be shipped from factories, according to Ian Wong, IBM’s global business services head of retail and consumer. He also added that, in the next 1 year, the technologies which include providing digital interaction channels to the consumer, such as online stores, mobile apps, social communities, in-store sales associates in the form of mobile apps on tablets, kiosk and smartphones to better serve the consumer will be adopted.
In the future, improvements in the retail store will not be just a staff member holding a tablet, but will also include the provision of store maps for large retailers, consumer’s mobile device with location-based and augmented reality services, along with mobile point-of-sale devices that are capable of accepting mobile wallets i.e. cashless payments through a smartcard of Smartphone. The main goal of these improvements is basically to help reduce customer searching and queuing times by adopting mobility trends and removing the cash register in the store as compared to the traditional retailing where each of the retail stores contain a cash register, through which the customers had to make their payments of the bills.
In the future, a retail store may also include the usage of digital signage for pushing targeted advertising, to store valuable customer demographic information through video capture that can be used for future analysis, and can also be used to get real time customer feedback. For example, at Singapore airport, touch screens are used to ask passengers to rate the cleanliness of the amenities, instead of waiting for the usual cleaning rounds or criticisms from an irate traveller. The Changi Airport staffs are notified automatically when a facility receives a number of negative responses through the touch-panel interface.
In the back end, technologies like distributed order management systems are present, which essentially is the matchmaker of orders and inventory, as a key enabler, according to Reggie George, Infosys’ retail practice associate vice-president.
The technology will be advanced to such an extent that, every time consumers want to write a product recommendation online, they can visit a price-comparison site or ‘like’ a service on Facebook, where they can leave their valuable data that can help retailers in offering relevant discounts and offers.