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3 Retail Innovation Trends that Improve Customer Experience

We’ve seen countless innovations that are designed to help improve the customer experience. That is not only limited to our personal devices.

Today, the customer experience isn’t bound to any one physical space or thing. According to a Harvard Business Review study, 73% of consumers use multiple channels to shop. Modern retailers understand this new omnichannel reality and have adopted retail innovation strategies to meet shoppers where we are — and on whatever device we choose.

From transformations in customer service technology and grocery shopping, here’s a look at 3 innovations that are reshaping retail to cater to the needs of shoppers.

Transforming grocery shopping

self-checkout machineTechnology is changing the grocery store experience. Self-checkout stations have become more prominent in recent years, putting you the customer in charge of your own transactions. Stores, including Whole Foods and Amazon, are allowing customers to use voice assistants to order groceries (Hey Alexa!). The first patents for Amazon’s Echo and Alexa were granted in 2014, but it wasn’t until 2018 when Amazon acquired Whole Foods that AI was introduced into the brick-and-mortar.

Not only does innovation help the customer, but also the business. A startup, Pensa, has created an autonomous perception system that grocery retailers can use to track their inventory. The technology is powered by small drones that go down store aisles and scan each shelf to report out-of-stock items. Pensa also uses algorithms to learn how items should be arranged in-store to increase customer purchases. Grocery innovations serving both sides of the aisle.

Driving faster deliveries

GrubHub, Doordash, and Seamless have spearheaded fast, food delivery. But Uber and UPS are now experimenting with drones to get customers their goods even faster.

Uber Eats, the company’s food delivery service, has plans to test drone deliveries next year in San Diego to speed up delivery times in congested cities, while still delivering convenience to customers. UPS launched drones back in 2017, that would deliver packages from the roof of its delivery trucks. While only currently delivering medical samples to a North Carolina hospital group, UPS plans to expand its drone delivery operations to residential customers and reducing wait times for packages.

The emergence of social shopping

Social media is no longer just for posting viral video outtakes or vacation photos. Retailers and influencers alike are getting in the game and rapidly innovating e-commerce, putting shopping at your literal fingertips.

As of 2018, according to Gartner, “66% of analyzed brands have adopted a social commerce feature within the past year.” And this year, the top 500 retailers will earn an estimated $11.9 billion from social shopping, according to a Business Insider Intelligence study.

Trending now is shoppable Instagram posts. Within a few clicks, customers have viewed and purchased goods directly through the app (US Patent 2014/0279068). Consumers already spend about one hour and 15 minutes a day on social networks, so it makes sense that retailers would innovate the shopping experience on these platforms and make the process easier and more convenient.

The future of retail

Retail innovations are changing how consumers connect with brands. Customer experience is now at the forefront of how companies set themselves apart in the marketplace. Whether it’s social shopping, voice-based commerce or drone deliveries, companies are using every technology tool at their disposal to differentiate their brand and create convenience for customers — and it’s transforming the retail experience as we know it.

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