ATLANTA – Technology will remain important to the retail industry in 2022, helping operators overcome challenges and make the most of opportunities.
Retail technology solutions provider NCR Corp. identified the top retail trends he expects retailers to adopt as they solve the puzzle of changing experience expectations next year:
The impacts of the labor crisis will continue
Retailers continue to struggle to staff all stores, warehouses and distribution centers, despite rising wages and added benefits. To close the gap between understaffed stores and consumer demand, retailers are likely to prioritize and invest in technologies that power end-to-end store management, workforce automation and other payment options. These solutions will enable the necessary efficiency and productivity gains by enabling staff reassignment, streamlined tedious operations and less stress at work for current employees.
At the same time, these solutions will enable employees to have higher value-added customer interactions that enhance the in-store experience. Plus, shoppers can continue to choose their preferred method of purchase, whether it’s in-store, contactless, or online with in-store pickup or online.
Micro-fulfillment will continue to transform stores
The growing adoption of same-day delivery and curbside pick-up means that having the right technology will continue to be crucial in effectively managing micro-fulfillment. For example, retailers may look for an ecommerce fulfillment system that can seamlessly combine in-store and online experiences, as well as integrate with existing software, while still being consumer-friendly.
Automation is also an option for some large operators, with companies like Walmart using automated robots to retrieve goods for online orders and fully autonomous trucks to transport orders.
Edge development and as a service will thrive
Consumers expect the digital touch at every stage of their brand experience, regardless of time, channel or location. To complicate matters, the buying behavior of consumers is constantly changing. Whether it’s personalized loyalty notifications sent when customers walk into a store or frictionless checkout, stores will need to create adaptable infrastructures that can continuously integrate and deploy new capabilities and modern experiences.
By 2022, more brands will strengthen their business advantage and as-a-service commitments to achieve this goal, according to NCR. Organizations that consolidate old IT infrastructure by virtualizing candidates will improve operational efficiency while embracing new high-data, low-latency use cases that improve the customer experience.
Edge for Retail will provide virtualization, containerization and automation by integrating in-store touchpoints, including front and back-store devices and associated peripherals, as part of a store architecture smart retailer managed from the cloud, NCR reported. . As a result, the devices and applications running the store become significantly smaller and faster, optimizing performance and providing retailers with true agility, more capacity, internet crash-resistant technology, and accessible data collected on-premise. Smart retailers are proactively implementing cloud-enabled terminals, such as tablets, in-store kiosks, and display screens.
Cryptocurrencies will become mainstream
Retailers and payment providers are responding to the growing number of cryptocurrency users by adding in-store and online capabilities allowing them to make in-store purchases using digital currencies like Bitcoin.
Companies like Sheetz Inc. have started accepting cryptocurrency in-store and at the gas pump, while earlier this year NCR signed a definitive deal to acquire LibertyX, a leading provider of cryptocurrency software, to enable its retail customers to buy and sell cryptocurrency, conduct cross-border remittances, and accept digital currency payments on digital and physical channels.
âAs an industry, it has become very clear that certain aspects of COVID-19 and our changes to adapt to its impact will remain. Consumers now buy brands from various channels simply based on their mood and their schedule, and retailers are expected to deliver on all fronts at all times, âsaid David Wilkinson, president and CEO of NCR Retail.
âThe most important thing retailers can do in 2022 to go on the offensive is to make strategic investments in technology, from micro-fulfillment to Edge, which is cloud-ready and ready to connect to retail and commerce platforms, âhe continued. âThis enables the adaptability that stores need to be agile and react quickly to changing conditions. Because the only thing now certain in retail is that consumers and the market are changing fast, and we have to be prepared. “