Retail Technology Show Wrap-Up: Trending Topics & Takeaways

| Retail

Retail Technology Show 2023 London Aerial View

Last week’s Retail Technology Show in London is always a great chance to take the temperature of the industry, see what people are talking about (and what they aren’t any more!) and hear from leading industry influencers, including many of our customers.

Scandit was there and in-between in-depth discussions and showing off the latest smart data capture innovations at our booth, here are a few of the notable things we observed across the two-day event.

What was trending?

Despite the tough market (or because of it?), the show was buzzing this year, 50% bigger than in 2022 with more speakers, more stands and packed with UK and global retail brands.

The hot topics that kept cropping up won’t surprise anyone:

  • AI
  • Gen Z
  • Employee empowerment
  • The cost of living crisis
  • Inflation & disruption
  • Sustainability
  • Loyalty
  • Digital transformation
  • The metaverse (both supporters and detractors)

The common thread underpinning all these themes is that under pressure retailers are ultimately still trying to solve the traditional problems (efficiency, margin, staffing, customer satisfaction) – but they are increasingly looking to the right smart data capture technology to provide different and better ways of doing so.

Top takeaways and insights

In a tough macro environment, focus on fundamentals you can control

While it’s important to have the agility to react to major events, you can’t ultimately control the big picture. However, you can control how you set about creating differentiation from your competition.

Customer experience is king – but a perfectly designed CX will still fall flat if employees can’t deliver it

Where your associates are overtasked, overloaded with technology and apps, and not able to access the information they need (training videos, product details, tech support) – how can you expect them to be able to truly engage with customers on the shop floor?

Multiple retailers spoke of this as a driver behind their digital transformation projects with some typical advice including:

  • Simplify processes, especially time-consuming manual ones, and access to information
  • Consolidate tech and tools wherever possible
  • Everything should ultimately help reduce the complexity of running the store for your people.

By delivering simplicity, consolidation and reduced friction, employees can focus on delivering outstanding experiences for shoppers.

Experiential isn’t always meaningful – it must be part of a well-considered customer journey

Talk at the show was that some previously purely experiential stores are now backtracking and re-introducing a transactional element in store – having realized the customers were confused by the complexity.

Analog experiences supported by digital elements in a hybrid store look to be the way forward to generate experience and appeal. Having the right technology, that is effectively integrated into the store space, helps simplify retail and ultimately create environments that people want to shop in.

Scanning a shoe in a retail store

And when trying new tech, a test-and-learn philosophy can be an effective way to get things moving. Getting the backing for an agile approach where delivering a minimal viable product that gradually gets you to your goal ensures the right outcome for all involved.

Technology must serve a practical purpose to be prioritized for investment

One such tech proving its worth is Augmented Reality (AR) which can add value to shopping experiences and store operations alike.

AR is a flexible technology that can be deployed in customer mobile apps or employee-facing apps to surface information on visual overlays, compare products, add personalization or provide process guidance to new workers.

Retail Scanning iOS

The metaverse is big…in China at least

The metaverse is predicted to be worth 5 trillion by 2030 according to McKinsey and there is heavy interest in the Chinese market, but as far as most retailers are concerned, the metaverse is the great unproven and they want to see tangible revenue generation examples before leaping in.

Engagement is the true currency of customer loyalty

Value isn’t just about transactions anymore. Get engagement (even negative feedback that you can act upon!) from your customers and they become advocates for your brand, which increases their lifetime value. Use analytics to find them and data to reward them with the right amount of personalization.

Scanning in grocery store for coupon

Speaking of personalization, gone are the days of clusters and personas. True personalization makes proper use of data and technological tools to deliver value on an individual level.

Retailers should get smart(er) about incentives

Incentives were a big topic, so take the time to understand what options would work for your brand and consumers. For example, some smart options we heard about were offering shoppers loyalty points in exchange for reviews or UGC content, bringing an element of gamification and community into the mix.

There’s no customer like the Gen Z customer

How to engage with Gen Z is clearly on retailers’ minds. Digitally native and extremely demanding, Gen Z is looking for convenient and customized shopping experiences, whether in store or online.

young retail shopper

On mobile apps, powerful filters and sorting options are a must, and so are a clean design and the use of video. What’s more, multi-brand stores are their go-to retail destinations (think marketplaces like ASOS), as they enable better comparative analysis.

Looking to level up your operations?

With a host of macro and micro challenges to deal with, unfortunately, there is no magic wand for retailers in a tough year. But as the Retail Technology Show highlighted, there are plenty of clever strategies, solutions and innovations if you look in the right places.

Our retail experts are always happy to be a sounding board and offer insights and guidance on where Scandit Smart Data Capture can help – so get in touch to chat.

In the meantime, here are 10 reasons why smart data capture technology is helping retailers level up.