2023: A Year of Smart Technology  

By Jamal Khan, Chief Growth and Innovation Officer, Connection

The retail industry has seen more disruption and greater transformation over the last three years than the last thirty years combined. Every retailer—big or small—has been forced to rethink the customer experience and develop a laser-sharp understanding of where, why, and how their brand drives engagement. Maximizing profitability remains a key priority, but retailers who can develop a more insightful understanding of customer behavior—earned through consistent, focused efforts across omnichannel touchpoints—will identify smarter growth strategies and find sure footing on the path ahead.

Looking to 2023, there has never been a more clear-cut need for innovation in the retail space, or greater value to be found in technology’s ability to deliver on that promise. Smart retailers will focus on three critical areas that complement the customer experience, improve productivity and employee satisfaction, and highlight brand value in an increasingly competitive marketplace.

Smart Store Technologies

You’ve already adopted smart technologies in your home—cameras, thermostats, coffeemakers, and refrigerators that deliver greater savings, efficiency, and convenience. These technologies will enhance your business in the same way they improve your personal life. Embracing smart store technologies such as AI, Edge Computing, IoT, or Computer Vision will improve worker productivity while providing customers with an experience that amazes. Imagine in-store displays with AI-enabled cameras that allow you to present two unique experiences: one for a busy parent with five children in tow and one for a solitary, leisurely shopper. Or consider a device that not only spots empty shelves and creates a pick list with suggested alternative products but also anticipates future stock-out based on sales velocity—helping you avoid subpar shopping experiences. Smart store technologies do all this and more, with endless business applications to improve the customer experience and employee productivity.

Point-of-Sale and Payment Solutions

When today’s consumers are ready to purchase, they expect to have multiple payment options, including tap and mobile pay. Yet most POS systems in use are incompatible with these offerings. Any POS or payment device more than five years old is already a relic and can’t support the omnichannel integration your customers crave. The new generation of wage earners, Gen Z, don’t always carry credit cards—and if they do, they’ll avoid putting them into a card reader for security reasons. Successful retailers will update POS and payment systems to integrate with omnichannel business, enhance the customer experience, and reduce security risk—while short-sighted organizations will alienate customers and increase security exposure by relying on outdated tech.

Your customers and employees have provided clear insight into winning strategies. Listen to them.

Digital Signage and Marketing

Bringing It All Together

Customers don’t just want a secure, convenient shopping experience. They expect interaction tailored to their unique needs and habits—including the digital signage inside your store. This is a constant challenge for marketing teams, but the right combination of smart store technologies, content management systems, and traditional displays provides amazing outcomes. The creation of hyper-personalized messages to the right shopper, at the right time, can drive exponential returns—strengthening both your sales and your brand.

The most important step in any plan is the first step. Start your journey by developing a multi-year roadmap inclusive of the entire organizational vision. The design of your technology roadmap against your specific business challenges is critical to customer experience and employee productivity.

Having the right roadmap in place—and the technology to make the most of your existing investments—will help you adapt to changing markets, augment your workforce, and deliver an unparalleled customer experience in 2023 and beyond. Your customers and employees have provided clear insight into winning strategies. Listen to them. Smart technologies deployed by smart retailers provide amazing results.

The State of the Retail Industry 2023

JAN 2023