In an age of digital disruption, major retailers have been inclined to experiment with disruptive technology that merges digital data insights with physical reinforcement and win at it.
With the pace of innovation, increased competition, the rise of personal interactions, the speed of interactions and digital integration, it is clear that major retailers have had no choice but to lead by example. Certainly, it is inevitable that small business retailers will follow the larger influential retailers who have helped shape and revolutionise the retail experience for consumers with adaptive strategies and disruptive technology. There are many ways in which digital disruption has led leading retailers to revise, develop and embrace their retail marketing strategies to create simple, convenient, personal and engaging shopping experiences for consumers. Some of the most common innovations are as follows:
For many retail outlets, digitising loyalty schemes can be an award-winning business investment. Customers have an incentive to build their loyalty points and retail outlets have the advantage of repeat business. Well-known retail outlets that have incorporated loyalty apps in their digital marketing strategies include Starbucks, Tesco, Pizza Express, Zizzi, OpenTable, Gourmet Burger Kitchen and Harvey Nichols.
Going paperless to instead go all digital is a strategic response to the digital disruption revolution. Most high street and online retailers have introduced electronic receipts (e-receipts). Although not all shoppers welcome this, e-receipts benefit shoppers and retailers de-clutter from paper receipts and potential ink fades or loss of receipts. E-receipts are also a tactical marketing tool to encourage email subscribers and send custom-personalized offers to consumers. Some of the major retail brands that have already incorporated e-receipts to their digital marketing strategies include Topshop, Dunelm, Accessorize and Selfridges.
Quick response codes are two-dimensional, device-readable barcodes that contain specific information about the product that they are attached to. Many retailers have implemented QR barcodes into their digital marketing strategies because they have become very popular with consumers. Successful QR code marketing campaigns include Kellogg’s, L’Oréal, Guinness and Diesel.
VR video and AR live views
Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) are ambitious ‘on-trend’ marketing aspirations for now and the future. For example, a good VR video with the right marketing can benefit a retailer massively through online engagement, inspiration and impact. Successful VR campaigns include Coca-Cola, Top Shop, Jaguar, Etihad Airways and McDonald's. Retailers leading the way in AR include IKEA, Dulux, GAP, Converse, Sephora and Adidas.
Traditionally (before the days of digital) consumers would visit a high street retail shop. Nowadays with the majority of online shops or eCommerce websites, the competition has risen greatly. Today, many independent retailers and retail chains have pursued app-based retail shopping experiences to keep up with the market or rise above the competition, or partner with affiliates or intermediaries to achieve this. Leading retail apps include Amazon, ASDA, and Starbucks.
Virtual Retail Assistants
The breakthrough of virtual assistants such as Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Siri, Microsoft’s Cortana and Google’s Assistant has raised virtual assistant expectations among consumers, particularly for retail. Gartner insights predict that by 2021, over 50% of enterprises will spend more per annum on bots and chatbot creation than traditional app development. Virtual retail assistants will allow retailers to gain a better understanding of their customers, reduce customer waiting times, respond in Realtime, and be capable of so much more.
Cryptocurrency powered by Blockchain
Large retailers have already begun to experiment with blockchain technologies to achieve greater transparency, improved traceability, enhanced digital security, increased transactional speed and efficiency, and reduced costs. Despite fierce backlash in the media, cryptocurrencies powered by blockchain is a strong contender now and in the future of retail markets as more and more commercial businesses are accepting Bitcoin and Ethereum cryptocurrencies as payments. Leading retailers include Microsoft, Expedia, Some Etsy Vendors, and Shopify.
Once upon a time not long ago, drones were just a novelty, not anymore. Drones can actually work for retailers provided they are appropriate and regulated. Leading retailers who have already experimented with them have found them to be cost-effective solutions for physical security and quick deployment for locally delivered goods. Leading retailers in drone technology include Amazon Prime Air, YO! Sushi, Just Eat, and Alibaba Ele.me.