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  • School of Retailing

Reality Technology Modernizing the Retail Space

Updated: Jun 16, 2023




To stay ahead of the curve in your field, you must stay up to date with current technology. Many organizations are operating differently as a result of technology, which is better for both the company and its clients. Companies, especially those in the retail sector, must be informed about the evolving changes and improvements that technology is bringing to their industry. Having access to technology is essential if you want to keep up with our society's rapid pace. Undoubtedly, technological developments have found solutions to many of the problems involved in managing a retail firm. Several instances of how technology has changed the retail sector are shown below:


Point of Sale (POS)

Customers have traditionally had to wait in long lines to buy their goods. However, thanks to handheld computers, scanners, and printers, customers may check out from anywhere in the store. Because of this, consumer satisfaction has considerably increased.


Technology has also streamlined the payment procedure through contactless payments.These payment options enable customers to make purchases using their smartphone or watch by utilizing RFID or NFC technology.


Customer Service

Technology has also enhanced online buying by giving clients a more individualized experience. Businesses are utilizing technology to give their clients augmented reality images of their products. Before making a final selection, clients can use augmented reality to gain a better understanding of what they want to buy. This technology has resulted in increased sales revenue and enhanced customer experiences.


Inventory Management

For businesses, inventory management has traditionally been relatively expensive. Technology that can track inventory throughout its purchase cycle and give management real-time information about the commodities has improved and made inventory management substantially less expensive for firms. Thanks to technology that records items and offers real-time updates about the items, managers have a much better picture of what is being purchased and what product they need to order to maintain their inventory. Store merchandise is better organized and employee theft is greatly decreased when technology is utilized to control inventory.


What the future holds

Modern technology assists retailers in improving every facet of their customer service. This holds true for large and small businesses These innovations could directly affect customers and boost the effectiveness of retail staff. Most importantly, companies that create original and creative solutions to issues can stand out from the competition Some examples include:


Omnichannel selling opportunities

Payment is a crucial step in bridging the gap between offline and online purchases. The convenience and uniformity of accepting several digital payment options improve the consumer experience. Better accessibility for both online and offline shoppers can be achieved by accepting purchase now and pay later, QR code payments, virtual payments like Google Pay and Apple Pay, and even cryptocurrency.


Indoor Positioning System (IPS)

Since a few years ago, indoor positioning systems (IPS) have gained popularity as a trend to aid users in navigating indoor spaces without the need for GPS. But there are a lot more uses for this including:


  • The IPS system can identify where customers are when they use the company's official app to navigate to a certain area of the store and provide them with relevant product and promotion suggestions on their smartphones.

  • Information about where customers are in the store helps with product placement on shelves.

  • Retail employees can utilize their work devices with IPS maps to find the item's position in the store for duties like order fulfillment.


Augmented Reality (AR) driven Customer Experience

The "try before you buy" applications for augmented reality are some of the most helpful ones for digital customers in the retail sector. The best illustration of this is the use of virtual try-on technology. Using AR Technologies, customers can virtually check how an outfit would look on them, or even how furniture fits and looks in a room. There are currently several retailers using virtual try-on technology, including Sephora, Target, Ikea, and others. Shoppers can use indoor navigation powered by augmented reality technology to locate the goods they need inside a store by simply following instructions on their phone's screen.


However, in this blog of many to come, we will be introducing to you some more advanced and engaging pieces of technology that could illuminate your business model including Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR), Extended Reality (XR), and Mixed Reality (MR).


What ‘Reality’ are we talking about?

Here are the few…


Augmented Reality (AR)

Brands may create intelligent retail experiences with augmented reality that affect the purchasing behaviour of their customers. By generating virtual simulations that allow customers to engage with a product in the same way that they would try on clothing in a physical store, augmented reality (AR) makes online selling simpler and more pleasant.


Businesses are incorporating it to complete tasks like:

  • By rethinking the conventional training methods, augmented reality (AR) can help to up-skill existing workforce members. Good working conditions are produced when close supervision, interesting duties, and interactive resources are combined. Although the fundamental methodology will remain the same, the instruments we employ to carry out the process will advance.

  • Everyone participating in the product development can interact with it utilizing smart devices wherever they are thanks to augmented reality solutions. By enabling developers to remotely visualize the product, walk around it, enter it, see it in 3D, examine details from every angle, compare different model iterations, provide feedback, and alter the model in real-time, augmented reality (AR) enables developers to get up close and personal with the project.

  • By including a virtual and interactive element, augmented reality (AR) may elevate conventional branding materials like business cards and brochures to new, thrilling, and engaging dimensions. Users can now access a variety of interactive features by scanning printed goods with their smart devices thanks to a popular AR marketing tactic.


Pros of AR:

  • The main goal of augmented reality is to merge the virtual and physical worlds, and by doing so, it improves the user's interaction with the real world by fusing it with virtual reality.

  • The development of augmented reality software for iOS and Android devices validates the newest in online and offline purchasing. Customers can use digital changing rooms to help them choose the right size, which will reduce the number of returns.

  • Learning new things and honing a few abilities has been made a lot easier using augmented reality. Thanks to the effect of augmented reality software, learning complicated concepts is now made simpler.


Cons of AR:

  • AR includes elements that are advantageous to both people and businesses. Businesses can improve their procedures and services with the help of AR. However, putting such technology into practice requires a significant investment and requires systematic skill.

  • One of the main drawbacks of augmented reality could be the need to produce, examine, and gather large amounts of data. The issue of confidentiality is taken into account when using such data.


Virtual Reality (VR)

Through the use of computer technology in accompaniment with VR headsets users receive a sense of presence within the virtual world they perceive. Business tasks carried out in the real world can now be achieved with telepresence through virtual reality (VR) for both training and applicational purposes. As this technology furthers itself with increasing photorealistic visuals and virtual environments there is an endless possibility of simulations that businesses can carry out to cut back on the costs of doing so in the real world.


Businesses are incorporating it to complete tasks like:

  • Simulating different processes, mechanisms, and parts in manufacturing and production companies through VR allows for efficient and safe performance testing. Through the use of simulated digital environments, companies can test and design new products under any circumstance quickly and cost-effectively.

  • VR offers the ability to showcase a finished product inside and out, such as a building, to potential customers before publishing and releasing to the public to ensure it first meets their client satisfaction standard.

  • Businesses have begun using VR to train employees for various circumstances and to try new methods or tools that could potentially be introduced into the workspace. With VR these training sessions can be immediately reset and avoid the costs of producing the necessary equipment to carry out such tasks in the real world.


Pros of VR:

  • Allows businesses to cut back on costs for training and simulation purposes.

  • Lets businesses simulate complex environments virtually which would be challenging and costly to recreate in the real world.

  • Businesses can provide virtual showrooms and showcase products to clientele before investing in the manufacturing processes of the respective goods.

  • VR technology is continuously improving allowing for a greater imitation of the real world. VR technology is also beginning to incorporate eye tracking into its interface to allow users to interact with virtual environments simply by looking at different aspects within the virtual space.

  • VR can be isolating an individual experience at times. To combat this, businesses have begun to incorporate familiar faces that an employee would see in the real world during training sessions, such as in a surgical room.

Cons of VR:

  • Although VR can lead to a large cut in costs that real-world practices come with there is still a large upfront cost to implement the technology especially if the required simulations must be coded with their environments designed from scratch. The best practices for creating engaging environments and virtual content are still being developed

  • VR can be very stimulating for certain individuals, and can cause some side effects that include nausea, eyestrain, and motion sickness.

  • Time is required to set up and configure a VR headset for a user. In addition to this controls and VR headset use must be explained to the user prior to usage.


Extended Reality (XR)

Extended reality (XR) encompasses all of the different variations of virtual reality which are augmented reality, virtual reality, mixed reality, and any technologies that will fall under this umbrella in the future. XR has many practical applications in the business world within retail, training, remote work, marketing, real estate, and entertainment.


Pros of XR:

  • In the retail space, XR allows customers to try a product before they purchase it. This is currently seen with glasses and watches where customers can try on the product virtually to determine whether or not it is right for them. Customers can also virtually place any item of furniture within their home.

  • Life or death situations can be simulated through XR’s hyper-realistic abilities such as when training soldiers, medical practitioners, astronauts, and more without the risk that these situations would come within the real world. Training can also be carried out remotely through easily accessible learning material which remains consistent through every use. XR additionally allows for training metrics and effectiveness to be tracked which can all be seen through the same dashboard. Training can also be assigned specifically to a user or device allowing organizations to provide flexible and specific training and learning objectives to individuals.

  • XR devices do not require in-person maintenance to be updated or implement new information. To do so all that is required is simply an internet connection.


Cons of XR:

  • Internet connection and file size can lead to negative download times for content. As the complexity of a required program increases, download times will increase which is always undesired. In addition to file size, internet connections with low bandwidth will add to this download time and can negatively affect program deployment times.

  • Each XR software has different compatibility with devices and operating systems. Organizations wishing to use XR must ensure that XRs are compatible with the devices they choose to deploy learning on along with software and content they currently use before integrating XR into their technological infrastructure.

  • XR technologies collect vast amounts of personal data during usage such as what an individual does, their emotions, and what they look like. Organizations using XR must ensure that measures have been taken to protect this sensitive information.

  • The cost of implementing this technology is out of reach for many companies currently. The cost of XR devices must come down while at the same time remaining comfortable, immersive, and intelligent. In addition to the upfront costs, training will certainly be required to introduce employees to such advanced technologies which of course will also come with a cost.


Mixed Reality (MR)

Mixed reality (MR) is a hybrid environment where both the real world and virtual world can interact with each other. MR incorporates aspects of both augmented and virtual reality but goes beyond these technologies. Previously, MR was mainly used to visualize events or exhibitions, however, MR has now become more accessible to deliver an immersive and engaging experience if used effectively.


Pros of MR

  • MR can make learning extremely engaging. Through the use of this technology, subjects can become interactive and allow for a higher level of knowledge retention and ultimately greater test scores.

  • The use of MR in training for employees can be done in scenarios where they would otherwise be infeasible or of high risk. Complex or delicate equipment can be simulated into the real world virtually and allow future users of these tools to gain learning experience to properly handle such equipment physically when the time comes. In addition to this, through the use of multiple MR headsets, employees can view the same virtual environment which allows them to learn and train together as a team.


Cons of MR

  • The current cost of MR can be a roadblock to implementing the technology in workplaces, schools, and universities. However, as this technology advances the cost will begin to decrease and MR will be seen more and more in these places.


A labyrinth of technology if being implemented into the retail space, where do you see your store going?




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