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Technological advances transform the way we shop

The retail industry has historically changed quite slowly. A major shift came with the introduction of self-service stores in the post-war era, and another with computerised point-of-sale systems in the 1980s and 90s.

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In more recent times, efforts have tended to focus on the online shopping trend; however, recent studies show that many shoppers still enjoy the in-store experience. Retailers therefore cannot afford to neglect traditional stores, with new technologies either here or on the horizon that will make a big change to the way in which we shop.

In-store technologies

In the last decade, we have seen the rise of new in-store tech. Most obvious to the consumer are things such as self-checkouts and the ability to print vouchers for instant incentives at the checkout; however, much of the retail landscape remains unchanged. Stores still rely on printed signage, which is time consuming to create and change and is therefore slow to adapt to new offers.

A switch to using digital signage from suppliers such as http://moodmedia.co.uk/digital-signage-solutions/ offers stores the ability to customise in-store messages quickly. Offers can be highlighted with eye-catching colours and price changes, while flash sales can be communicated instantly.

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It is also becoming possible for technologies such as 3D printing to create one-off customised displays based on the shape or style of a product.

Big data

One of the biggest changes in retail technology has been behind the scenes. Thanks to loyalty schemes and data from online shopping and social media sites, stores know more about their customers and their habits than ever before; for example, they know the products that are bought regularly, the favourite brands, and the offers that are most successful in attracting impulse purchases.

Armed with this pool of data, it is possible to accurately target consumers with offers safe in the knowledge that you are showing them things they are likely to buy. While this technique is a staple of online retailing, it is beginning to cross over into the physical world.

Combine this data with geo-location data from a mobile phone, for example, and it is possible to notify shoppers of the latest offers when they are near a store. It can even allow targeted messages to be sent, via a mobile or via in-store screens, at specific locations within the shop.

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