If you’re interested in running a retail franchise, you should be aware before you make an investment that the sector is highly competitive and ever-evolving. This isn’t to say there isn’t room for success and profitability - there definitely is. But if you want to start a retail franchise and attain long-term success, you’ll definitely need to do your research. You’ll need to stay on top of the latest industry trends and developments.
In this article, you’ll discover the six biggest tech trends innovating the retail sector as we speak. Technology is playing an increasingly large role across every single industry, and for those looking to start a retail franchise, it’s no different. By 2023, for instance, over 7000 retail stores worldwide will offer customers an autonomous checkout process [Statista].
The 6 biggest retail sector tech trends of 2022
Back in 2020, 2.9 million people were employed in the UK retail sector [Retail Economics]. This number has only risen since. With so many customers to serve and so many stores with open doors, it’s natural that trends in the retail sector are many and various. As 2022 kicks off, retail tech trends are especially important and conversationally dominant. From automation to chatbots, here are the technological developments and trends to look out for this year...
The key principle of hyperautomation is that everything that can be automated will be automated. Technologies such as machine learning (ML), artificial intelligence (AI) and robotic process automation (RPA) can all be deployed to facilitate or automate tasks that originally required some form of human judgement or action.
- Sarah Hippold, Gartner
Hyperautomation is, as the name suggests, an advanced form of automation that seeks to see any and all tasks automated, if they can be. With worries about labour shortages affecting industries around the world, hyperautomation might be the answer for ongoing supply chain problems, as well as letting people complete other, less easily-automatable work.
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2. Omnichannel retail
If you’re wondering what it takes to run your own retail franchise in 2022 and make it a roaring success, the answer might well be: The ability to provide a seamless online-to-offline shopping experience. The digital and physical worlds are becoming more and more connected as time goes on, and when a customer comes into a physical retail shop in search of an item, the store that takes an omnichannel approach will be able to view what that same customer has looked at online/previously purchased in order to make more informed, targeted recommendations and provide a better tailored service experience IRL.
3. Recommendation engines
In the words of Forbes contributor Bernard Marr, “Customers will expect sophisticated levels of personalisation from retailers [in future], so recommendation engines are becoming increasingly important.” But what is a recommendation engine, exactly? It’s simple: A recommendation is a machine learning system that filters data on a certain user/customer and presents them with relevant options based on identified patterns/preferences/habits. Netflix, for instance, uses a recommendation engine to suggest new shows that you might like to watch next.
For a retail franchise looking to stand out in its sub-sector, recommendation engines are a great way to make the shopping experience more unique. Imagine, for example, that a customer is in a clothing shop. They find a dress they really like, and they wonder if there are similar options, either in store or online. With a recommendation engine in place, they could scan, say, a QR code on the dress’s label. They could then be recommended similar items quickly and easily, without the need for help from an in-person store assistant.
4. AR/VR shopping experiences
From test driving cars without leaving the showroom to doing an online grocery shop with a VR headset that allows you to walk the aisles like you would in person, the possibilities are endless in the emerging world of augmented and virtual reality shopping experiences. As the tech becomes more accessible and more widely used, you might find your retail franchise implementing a VR experience and attracting a brand-new customer base as a result. When you’re choosing the retail franchise that’s right for you, know that a franchise with an understanding of AR and VR is a good, futureproof bet.
5. Social commerce
Social commerce — native shopping experiences on a social media platform — offers shoppers an even more seamless way to shop online. Instead of clicking through to a third-party website, users can make purchases right from the social media app or site.
- Tara Johnson, Tinuiti
When you use new technology to sell on social media rather than requiring people to directly visit your online retail store, you make shopping your stuff less disruptive and more convenient for your could-be customers. Therefore, you increase the likelihood of a sale. The social commerce market is predicted to grow from a current value of over $80 billion to an astounding value of over $600 billion within the next seven years [Cision].
Chatbots and virtual personal assistants have been around for a while, but the tech has definitely advanced since the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic. One of the biggest advantages of running a retail franchise is the consumer demand, but when you can’t open your shop, how can you continue to fulfil this demand? With personal and interactive digital solutions like chatbots, of course. In the words of Movable Ink, “Chatbots can go above and beyond recreating in-person experiences — they can create fun, new experiences unique to the digital space.”
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Enjoy freedom and profitability - start running your own business in the retail industry today
Having explored the latest retail tech trends in this article, you should be more prepared than ever to make a career change with a retail franchise. If you’d like to continue your research and learn all about what goes into actually running a franchise in the retail sector, stay on Point Franchise. Discover five tips for marketing your retail franchise, four tips for running your retail franchise effectively, and five tips for building your retail franchise’s business plan.
Lily Sweeney, Point Franchise ©