Future of Brick and MortarDigitisation has already transformed several industries across the world, from travel, to film, and banking. As consumer demands continue to change, digitising the shelf will soon become the standard for brick and mortar stores.

Over the past century the physical store has had very little change, but now consumer demand has put pressure on the industry to change for the sake of its future.

The immediate, personalised, and convenient experience of online shopping is something that shoppers have now become accustomed to. Big technology companies such as Amazon and Alibaba have taken note of this, and are beginning to recreate in the physical environment with prototype frictionless stores that prioritise shopper interaction and convenience.

As brick and mortar stores continue to be disrupted by this change, stores of all sizes must start thinking more like digital companies. So, to drive sales and improve the shopper experience, retailers need to be both responsive and agile to the customers’ needs and requests.

According to a 2017 World Economic Forum Report, new technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things (IoT), and Robotics will bring around the biggest change to the retail landscape. It will be these technologies that lead the transformation of brick and mortar stores by giving retailers a greater understanding of their physical environments.

Fixed and IoT-enabled cameras are set to become the most important enabler of enhanced shopper interaction. Amazon Go stores have already taken advantage of the insights these cameras offer by tracking consumer shopping behaviour to offer a more seamless shopping experience.

Having a mix of these cameras and computer vision technology pointed at shelves in-store provides real-time intelligence for brands, giving them a better understanding of what needs to be done to meet consumer purchasing trends, correct pricing more efficiently, and restock in-demand items faster.

This digitisation of the shelf will soon become the standard setup in the retail industry, enhancing the experience and enabling stores to become much more competitive. This has already been proven, with Senior Research Consultant at Frost & Sullivan, Michael Valenti claiming that image recognition technology for these purposes in-store have already achieved a sales increase of 3% to 5%.

With the emergence of this technology, a transformational shift is in the process of happening in brick and mortar stores, presenting a new era of ‘smart retail’ that will change the future of shopping across the high-street forever.

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