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Retail trends 2016: bite-size takeaways from Retail Technology Show USA

At this year?s Retail Technology Show in Atlanta, ScienceSoft?s Kate Kamarchuk witnessed how retail businesses are embracing the next-gen technology step by step.

Despite what was announced, the Show somehow failed to attract enough retail-minded professionals though the agenda was literally bursting with urgent topics. Underrated or not, the keynote panels and seminars still provided enough food for thought to keep us inspired in our retail software development projects.    

We picked up 4 retail technology trends as suggested by the Show?s speakers and industry vibes in general.


Phygital is here

Despite predictions, physical stores have never died out. Yet, brick-and-mortar retailing poses a new challenge for outlet owners to go for a ?phygital? hybrid.

From ?taking e-commerce offline? (the keynote panel moderated by Justin Honaman of Contender Brands) to all-round technology integration, retail app development should go all the way to enable in-store customer experience that can both rival and complement online shopping.

The coolest example so far was the Magic Mirror? from Combatant Gentlemen, presented by the menswear brand?s CEO and CTO. Pioneered in their first ever brick-and-mortar location in Irvine, California, this interactive, RFID-enabled display recognizes the chosen outfit and instantly shows up the product details, including  sizing, prices and photos to enhance the showroom experience.      


M-commerce is a game changer

On into more retail channels, mobile commerce is winning a bigger share of consumers? attention. From ?mobile shopping malls? to in-store tablets and mobile POS, the technology is expected to support the entire customer journey both on the web and at physical locations (some of the examples being in-store checkout and pickup).

Mobile personalization is also on the agenda, to help retailers provide a tailored experience that rests on in-depth customer data (this frequently goes with the ability to make localized offers).    


Customer analytics open new doors 

Customer experience seemed to permeate all the conference streams, and Business Intelligence was no exception. Here, the speakers (one of the vivid keynotes was by Marty Anderson, VP Merchandising Business Process at Belk Inc.) repeatedly made the point that customer analytics should be holistic: sourced from every data point available online and offline and then integrated into a single view for use by all systems.

This will have a number of implications for businesses ? from a more precise personalization based on the customer?s real needs to better demand forecasting and merchandising management.


Original content drives customer engagement

One of the most eye-opening talks was delivered by Eric Bandholz, Founder of Beardbrand. The company known for its close-knit community (or, rather, #TeamBeardbrand) as much as for its beard care products reminded us about the golden rule of customer engagement: to interact through your genuine, helpful and relevant content.

This seems to work particularly well for lifestyle brands, but hey ? with Tumblr, YouTube, Twitter and Instagram, starting out a dialogue with your customers is the easiest. It takes just a bit of imagination.

As the Show?s many sessions hit the right target, we?d love to check it out next year as well to see if the event manages to win the actual retailer audience. For now, let?s keep track of how the retail technology trends will develop further.  

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