As a fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic, buying habits and customer expectations are changing, and it’s likely that the retail sector will never be the same again. Through rapid technological developments, retailers are transforming the shopping experience by enhancing the brick-and-mortar shopping experience, increasing convenience, appealing to mobile users, and promoting a retailer’s virtual presence through Retail Technology and E-commerce.
But, what’s the difference between the two?
What Is RetailTech?
RetailTech is the use of innovative, cutting-edge technology to create an environment where brick-and-mortar and E-commerce stores can become one. According to Venture firm Notion Capital, retail innovation and investment opportunities fall into two broad categories: enablement and disruption; with enabling technologies helping existing retailers adapt to change, and disruptors challenging existing predispositions of what it means to be a retailer.
The Subsectors of RetailTech
Retail Technology Trends
Immersive experiences is one in-store experience that’s transforming retail, turning the act of shopping into so much more than a simple transaction. The AR/XR retail technology company ARwall, for example, developed a consumer-facing platform called ‘ARwall Interactive’, which allows guests to engage in larger than life XR experiences without needing a headset, goggles, controls or a touchscreen – a perfect product for a post coronavirus world.
“I believe that in-store immersive experiences will bolster consumer confidence as people venture back into public spaces.”
Eric Navarrette, Co-Founder and CMO, ARwall
Another trend representing the technological shift in the retail industry is food robotics. Big retailers such as Walmart are already using robots and, according to ABI research, over 150,000 mobile robots will be deployed in brick-and-mortar retail stores by 2025. Retail Tech Blendid is a great example of how robotics technology can be applied to retail. Their offer of contactless, autonomous food robotics kiosks which use advanced technology to prepare and serve smoothies based on individual preferences is revolutionising consumers’ shopping experiences and expectations.
The future of this disruptive industry looks bright, and its digital advancements means that we can look forward to augmented reality, food robots, virtual mannequins, scan as you shop, order hubs, digital signage, virtual rails and so on, being common place in retail.
What Is E-Commerce?
E-commerce is a subsector which falls under the umbrella of Retail Technology; and it can be defined as the buying and selling of goods and services or the transferring of funds or data over an electronic network, mainly the internet. The term ‘E-Tail’ is also sometimes used when referencing the transactional process that makes up online retail shopping.
Almost every imaginable product and service is available through e-commerce transactions, including music, plane tickets, books, food, and financial services such as online banking and stock investing. It’s no wonder then, that e-commerce is considered a highly disruptive tech.
The e-commerce space is constantly changing – this year especially, with experts saying that the pandemic has accelerated the shift to online shopping by as much as five years. Over the past decade, extensive use of e-commerce platforms such as eBay and Amazon has contributed to the extreme growth of the online retail space. In 2007, E-commerce accounted for 5.1% of total retail sales, and in 2019, the sector made up 16%.
Types Of E-Commerce
One trend that is supercharging the industry is augmented reality (AR). This type of technology is changing the shopping experience, especially in industries such as fashion and home décor, as it provides the shopper with a better feel for the item without seeing it in-person, increasing the chances of successful transactions.
Mobile commerce – or M-commerce – has also become a leading trend in the sector. In spite of historically suffering poor conversion rates due to customer frustration when having to checkout on a small screen, smartphones and tablets have become the driving force behind M-commerce growth. Insider Intelligence even predicts M-commerce volume to hit $488 billion – or 44% of e-commerce – in 2024.
Automated attendance systems, such as chatbots, are also leading the way into the future of e-commerce. With the implementation of certain keywords and artificial intelligence, these machines are able to identify what the shopper needs and interact with them quickly; allowing e-commerce store websites to reach more people, generate greater customer satisfaction and save time and resources.
With reduced friction in the buying journey, rich brand experiences, and the ability to sell anywhere and everywhere all being a part of the e-commerce package, the sectors is set to be even more scalable and vibrant in the future.
At Storm5, we work with Retail Tech and E-commerce companies across the globe. If you’re a RetailTech looking to grow your team, get in touch! Alternatively, get to know more about what we do and the roles we work with here.