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Top 4 retail technology trends in 2017

By Vaughan Rowsell

The news is in – Amazon is coming to Australia in the near future – and that means we can expect the competition between international and Australian retailers to heat up. Investing in technologies that help improve the customer experience whilst increasing efficiencies will need to take priority.

I predict 2017 will be the year that mobile payment solutions hit the mainstream, adopting omnichannel strategies becomes the new normal, and retail propels itself into the future through experience-enhancing technology.

Here are my top four retail technology trends for Aussie retailers in 2017.

  1. Retailers will adopt more mobile payment solutions

Mobile payments are the way of the future, and have been slowly gaining traction and acceptance with Australian retailers. In 2017, we’ll see stores that haven’t already adopted them make efforts to do so. With the launch of Apple Pay into Australia this year, and the growth of payment players like Square, easier payment options are becoming mainstream. If retailers don’t implement mobile payment solutions soon they will fall behind and risk losing out on sales. We’re betting that retailers will make big moves in mobile in 2017, and the great part is they have the flexibility to adopt whichever type works best for them – from mobile POS systems, to custom mobile payment apps like Coles Mobile Wallet and third-party options like Apple Pay.

  1. Omnichannel will go from buzzword to benchmark

To truly meet the needs of the modern consumer, it’s no longer enough to operate in only one channel. In 2017, we can expect retailers worldwide to push their omnichannel strategies further to maximise sales, and respond to the demand from consumers who want to shop when, where and how they choose. A big part of this is providing click and collect services, but that can be a real challenge for retailers who don’t have the right systems – it requires a real-time view of inventory and knowing exactly where your stock is across all stores. Retailers such as bras N things, French Connection and Glue Store already offer click and collect to their customers here, but expect this trend, along with the technologies that aid this service to rise in 2017.

  1. Faster shipping options will rise

Free shipping has become commonplace, and now shoppers are looking for speed over price. Consumers might not want to make the trip to a store, but they still want their purchases to arrive as quickly as possible. A recent survey from Zoom2u confirmed that millennial shoppers seem to value immediacy and timeliness much more than any other age group with 14 per cent prepared to pay a whopping $15 or more to have their items delivered within three hours of purchase. For most customers through, same-day shipping may not be essential, but having their goods delivered to their door within 2-3 days as opposed to 7-10 days or longer definitely is. Customers want to be able to make last-minute decisions, which means expecting that their items can be shipped quickly and arrive on-time, without the hassle of chasing couriers or standing in long lines at the post office.

  1. Retail-centric apps will expand the possibilities for retailers

These new trends for 2017 – faster shipping, more strategic and seamless omnichannel experiences for customers, and allowing consumers to shop when and how they want – is a tall order for retailers. Adopting these new ways of managing your business and serving customers requires the use of smart, new technologies. That’s why we expect more retailers to rely on business and retail-focused apps and third-party solutions to fulfill the demands of modern shoppers. For example, more retailers will look to sell their products on Instagram using solutions such as Like2Buy, Tapshop, and Soldsie to make their photos “shoppable.” And apps designed specifically to assist in fulfilment will be more in use, as we see retailers seek more efficient ways to get their products into consumers’ hands quickly and easily.

The bottom line

2017 will favour retailers that come up with smart, fun and new ways to improve customer experience across all channels.  Now is the time to think about which new technologies you will introduce next year to help remain competitive and relevant to the needs of today’s fast-paced, time-poor consumers who seek new experiences and more convenient shopping options.

Vaughan Rowsell is the founder and chief product officer at Vend.

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