The future of retail is now.

The world is increasingly more reliant on technology than ever before and this proves true for the retail industry, too. Customer needs are exceedingly high when it comes to quick and efficient service. They want and expect the same technology and service that they see in every other aspect of their lives. If they don’t get it, they’re not interested. Trends like mobile payments, using AI to optimize the sales journey, and contact-less shopping are now coming to fruition for the retail sector. To stay ahead, businesses need to consider these new trends to retain their consumer base – or risk dying out. Read on for some key examples we’ve noticed are revolutionizing the way we shop.

Line up at cash? No problem

Arguably, the worst part about shopping is waiting in line. With e-commerce services that allow you to purchase on the spot, expectations in store have increased to expect quick service – get in and get out. Luckily, stores have adopted with the increase of tap-and-go point of sale systems, mobile payments via apps, and self-service stations. If you need some personal help, you don’t even need to wait in line to see a cashier. Employees on the sales floor are now equipped with payment capabilities right on their smartphones.

As a result, companies don’t need to hire as many employees which cuts down on overhead costs. On the flip side, investments in devices and software to process transactions are required. However, this initial spend often reduces your costs in the long run. By ensuring that any stock or sales information is communicated in real time and customers can get what they need as quickly as they want, you’re also increasing return rates.

Putting the AI into retail

In the high frequency retail market such as grocery stores, the trend has typically been to market certain items around specific times of the year. Chicken wings for super bowl, turkeys for Thanksgiving, candy at Halloween. Some retail stores are started to identify the benefits of implementing AI in the retail space. One use case is enabling identification of products to improve overall margins. Tech Emergence has noted that when a consumer buying a product like ground beef, this may also attract sales for hamburger buns or pasta, as ground beef typically isn’t consumed by itself.

AI can also help identify when sales are impacted by a heavy discount. For example, are juice sales impacted when milk is heavily discounted? Do cereal sales spike at this same retailer when milk is on sale? AI is able to read into more scenarios than manually possible and provide retailers with further insights on what affects their bottom line.

The future is ama-zing

Amazon has launched the future of retail in the US with Amazon Go. Go stores have no cashiers, no self-serve check outs, and no mobile check-out devices. This means no reason for consumers to pull out their wallets. Customers simply walk in, grab what they need, and walk out. Amazon then bills the customer’s credit card as they walk through the turnstile to leave. This experience is as close as we can get to e-commerce but in person. Currently, stores are only open in Seattle and Chicago, but expansions are planned for San Francisco and New York. As an industry leader in innovation, this is what we can expect for the future of the brick-and-mortar store front.