Contrary to the headlines, research reveals that consumers still enjoy stepping foot in stores, especially when they want to browse or need help in choosing an item to purchase. So, many retail trends for 2019 focus on putting real-time data, tech-enabled staffing and multimedia tools in place to boost that experience. Retailers are getting ready to reimagine their stores to make them more fun, friction-free and fulfilling, ensuring every shopper feels satisfied and eager to come back.

It also means that IT decision makers are heading to the NRF Big Show in New York in January with shopping lists of their own. Many of these tools and technologies will be near the top of those lists:

Customer Engagement

Analysts call this the age of the experience economy, urging retailers to step up their store experiences to entertain and impress so they can stand out from the crowd. Research by NRF reveals that creating a compelling experience can be persuasive, particularly for the younger consumers that retailers covet. Younger generations are more likely to view the store as an opportunity to socialize and explore, with 48 percent of Gen Zers and 35 percent of millennials saying they typically visit the store just to browse. Retailers can expect to see customer experience (CX) solutions all over NRF, including in its own seminar track with speakers from Nordstrom, Forrester, Kroger and many more.

Tablets

A staggering 88 percent of shoppers are somewhat or extremely likely to buy if helped by a knowledgeable sales associate, according to BRP. That’s why retailers are racing to put more of their workforce on the sales floor, getting mobile devices into associates’ hands so they can bring everything the consumer might need right to their side. With product information, access to their past purchases or loyalty status, inventory locators, promotions, and more, shoppers enjoy a personalized experience tailor-made to meet their needs. BRP found 83 percent of retailers plan to suggestive sell based on customer history within three years.

Cloud-based Data Analytics

Data collection and analysis is rapidly becoming the foundation of what retailers do. By leveraging data analytics capabilities in the cloud, retailers can deliver the rapid insights that fuel a powerful assistive selling experience. For example, an IoT sensor detecting the presence of a loyal, opted-in customer could send that data to the cloud, which can then push targeted content to a nearby associate with a tablet to assist that customer.

Armed with insights about their recent online search and an available promotion, the associate can satisfy the customer need, and cross and upsell add-ons and accessories and close the sale — all while gathering additional customer data. According to the 2018 RIS/Gartner Retail Technology Study, retail leaders identify advanced analytics tools as a top priority nearly twice as frequently retail laggards do.

IoT Devices

Retailers including Kroger and the Finish Line are already forging ahead on Internet of Things projects to help them gather more data about shopper activity, then leverage it for things like customer experience and pricing. “IoT is not just about gathering data but also about the analysis and usage of that data,” says BRP, who found that 60 percent of retailers plan to have IoT capabilities within three years.

Digital Signage and Interactive Screens

Shopper attention is drawn to screens, whether to watch content, explore styles, customize products or place orders. According to RIS News, expectations for those on-screen experiences will only rise: By 2025, more than half of consumers responding to a survey will want to see stores offer interactive, shoppable screens which are service-oriented and connected to the retailer’s entire inventory for quick and easy ordering. Already, 55 percent of RSR’s retail “winners” see value in interactive screens for consumers.

Edge and Fog Processing

As retailers drive toward more personalized, engaging in-store experiences, they will rely on a rapidly expanding list of data sources that must quickly be combined and analyzed to deliver relevant information in the moment. Eventually, that demand is likely to overwhelm the network, cloud and apps that perform all of those data acrobatics. Edge and fog computing are emerging as solutions that put that processing right at the edge where results are needed. Currently, about 10 percent of enterprise-generated data is created and processed outside a traditional centralized data center or cloud, but by 2022, Gartner predicts this figure will reach 75 percent.

Augmented Reality

According to BRP, just 11 percent of retailers currently use augmented reality. This includes Target and other furniture retailers, who are adding AR to their mobile apps so consumers can envision furniture in their homes, and Sephora, who is enabling consumers to virtually test makeup on their faces. But within three years, 30 percent more will add AR technology to help enrich the customer experience by empowering them to combine reality with overlays, revealing how new purchases will fit into their lives. This is a capability many NRF shoppers will be able to test firsthand on the show floor.

Inventory Management

Customers’ omnichannel expectations are quickly driving demand for conveniences such as one-hour delivery, Click and Collect, and locating and shipping inventory from another store via an associate mobile device. As these expectations continue to evolve, “inventory management and fulfillment agility will become make or break capabilities for all retailers,” says Forrester Research. Retailers are shopping for solutions to overcome their legacy infrastructure to get real-time, enterprise-wide visibility and access to a single, centralized inventory source.

At this year’s NRF Big Show, IT decision makers can expect innovative ideas for both powerful new assistive selling devices and achieving the nimble, data-driven infrastructure needed to deliver on their promise. The race is on to leverage current and future retail technologies to create the enhanced, compelling in-store experiences that can truly set a retail brand apart.

Stop by Booth 2337 at the NRF Big Show to see Samsung’s complete line of retail-ready mobile devices in action. In the meantime, read this free white paper on how to engage customers with associate mobility and data.