Technology Trends That Will Reshape Retail in 2021

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2020 pivoted the world to everything digital. Everything-from-home became the new norm, and we reimagined new ways to function this year. It was no different for shopping – eCommerce came to everybody’s rescue. Although online shopping is not new, it took center stage. Consumer-facing technology saved the day, and digital payments, telehealth, cloud-native apps, etc., are now mainstream in the AI-driven world.

Adobe recently revealed comprehensive insights on consumer spending and eCommerce based on some of the top retailers’ eCommerce transactions in real-time. The Black Friday sales figures touched a whopping $9.0 billion, a record high indicating an increase of 21.6% compared to last year. Taylor Schreiner, Director of Adobe Digital Insights, stated, “We are seeing strong growth as consumers continue to move shopping from offline to online this year. New consoles, phones, smart devices, and TVs that are traditional Black Friday purchases are sharing online shopping cart space this year with unorthodox Black Friday purchases such as groceries, clothes, and alcohol, that are usually purchased in-store.”

Digital penetration is now irreversible and will continue to navigate retail trends through 2021 and beyond. Here’s a quick lowdown on technology trends that will reshape retail in 2021.

Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) will ensure an immersive consumer experience

Retailers leverage augmented reality to shift the focus from features and benefits to an immersive retail experience enabling young and restless millennials to choose better. While apparel companies went all out with their AR fitting rooms to help choose according to body type, beauty technology leader Sephora came up with magic mirrors in stores and mobile apps to enable consumers to see how the myriad make-up treatments and colors looked on them.

On the other hand, IKEA allowed consumers to place catalog items at scale in their homes to make better buying decisions. In a technology-driven world, the augmented reality and virtual reality market are predicted to touch 16.1 billion by 2025 globally, underlining a 48.8% CAGR for the forecast period 2020-2025.

Having tasted a shift in consumer behaviors, One Aldwych Hotel in London, in collaboration with Dalmore Whisky, treated their consumers to a distillery experience with VR. They offered a VR whisky cocktail that allowed them to visit the distillery, albeit virtually to see the barrels and the water and the fields that went into its making. To ensure deeper engagement and take out the loneliness from virtual shopping, brands now allow you to co-shop with your friends by helping consumers share product views and experiences. Popular brand Lego has created digital shopping assistants to make the whole experience a lot more exciting. These assistants even make personalized gift recommendations to take the digital shopping experience a notch higher.

After launching its Shopify AR to help businesses curate more immersive shopping experiences, Shopify also confirmed that interactions with products having 3D/A.R. content have a 94% higher conversion rate compared to those without it.

Retailers are also becoming more experiential, indulging in what we call ‘retailtainment’ where experience becomes immersive and memorable. For instance, Marvel invited fans into their cinematic world through interactive displays and real-life movie props at their touring Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N.

Virtual Assistants for 24×7 Customer Service

Retailers are leveraging chatbots and virtual assistants to interact with their consumers while robots lurk outside warehouses to manage inventory. AI-powered voice recognition technology is also playing a significant role in adding value to the whole shopping experience.

Retailers are also deploying mobile CRM to engage consumers with offers, discounts, reward points, loyalty programs, style alerts, etc. According to Forrester statistics, 50% of teams saw an increase in productivity after using mobile CRM. An IDC study predicts AI-powered CRM activities could increase global business revenues by $1.1 trillion by 2021, drawing attention to the extensive role AI plays in driving customer conversations and influencing customer behavior.

Hybrid Apps enable retailers to reach a wider audience, grow the market

As consumers continue to rely on smartphones for all their needs, hybrid apps play a pivotal role in bridging the gap between brands and consumers. They are pocket-friendly and work exceedingly well for small businesses too. Brands are now relying on messaging apps like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger to engage with customers.

Hybrid apps have caught the fancy of retailers because they are a multi-platform app development option, unlike native, that focus on a single platform. Hybrid apps have a single code that applies to both Android and iOS, saving developers valuable time. Besides, it is also advantageous as developers can maintain, update, and upgrade by making changes in just one set of code instead of multiple code sets, delivering an at par customer experience across platforms.

Social Commerce and influencer marketing will enhance reach and value

A recent survey revealed 41% of respondents admitted to shopping online for stuff they would normally buy in stores. The recent introduction of Facebook shops is a classic example of the growing popularity of social commerce in the personalized shopping arena in the digital world. Social commerce is now becoming an integral part of ecommerce and is clearly here to stay.

With social commerce on the rise, the influencer game is stronger than ever. It has now transitioned from selfies and clever photo edits to unique influencer video content that connects, educates, and entertains. IGTV, Instagram Reels, and Instagram Live are all playing a major role in helping brands build solid digital communities through shared interests. Fitness experts for instance conduct live workout sessions on Instagram Live and then publish the same on IGTV for those who couldn’t tune into livestream.

Contactless is the buzzword now

A safe, seamless, frictionless experience is what we need. Contactless payments, contactless delivery and pickup, seamless checkouts, 1:1 in-store appointments, contactless checkout and delivery, and click-and-collect services are all crucial steps in that direction. Also, the fear of contamination has encouraged retailers to deploy drone technology to ensure the fastest delivery. Retailers are working in tandem with fintech companies to build better transactional models for quick, contactless payments.

Contactless mobile payments are in high demand, especially in this period of crisis. Consumers carrying their cards tend to spend more than those with cash in their wallets that often limit their purchasing power. Contactless payments are not just a fad but have greater staying power for the sheer speed, security, and convenience they offer. Those who have failed to adopt them have lost business. As per the 2020 Holiday Spending Insights Report by NMI, 43% of consumers avoided retailers that did not offer contactless payments. Tap-to-pay cards are popular, so are mobile wallets such as Google Pay and Apple Pay.

Make your retail business future-ready with Trigent

The retail environment is changing at a rapid pace. Clearly, brands are going out of the way to redefine the possible and are winning the game in the midst of the pandemic. It is important to go omnichannel to provide best-in-class experiences to consumers across touchpoints because the online and offline worlds converge.

Serve your customers efficiently by accelerating the adoption of the latest developments in technology. Capitalize on Trigent’s market experience to incorporate the best practices and implement solutions right the first time. With its comprehensive suite of IT Services offerings, Trigent is your go-to partner for all your IT digital evolution requirements.

Contact our Solutions Specialists today. Request a demo now.

Twitter propels its mobile business using progressive web apps

Pattern of app usage among users – prevailing scenario

The smartphone user base has experienced an exponential boom in the past few years to reach 2.97 billion users worldwide. A recent study notes that an average US adult spends about 3 hours 10 minutes on his phone every day. 90% of mobile time is spent on applications. The increase in smartphone users and their usage pattern indicates that the mobile screen is the more preferred screen than the computer. The usage pattern is also a clear indicator that businesses vying for their customers’ attention must adopt a mobile strategy.

The world of native applications – challenges galore

Though users spend 90 percent of their mobile time on applications, they are quite picky. Users spend 77% of their time on only three apps. What’s more, 96% of that time is spent on their ten favorite apps. The interest in applications makes the mobile application space highly competitive. The chunk of these applications is native applications primarily categorized into Android or iOS apps. Statista 111 thousand applications are released on the Google Play Store every month, making it the most prominent online store for applications. Following toe is the Apple App Store, which has an approx 1.8 million applications available for download. The numbers are proof of the stiff competition applications face to garner interest among users and survive. Besides the stiff competition, many other reasons can sometimes weigh against building a native application. One of the foremost considerations a business looking to upgrade their mobility capabilities the native way has to address is cost followed by compatibility. Native applications are platform-specific as they are developed for a specific platform, either Android or iOS, and can limit your reach to a particular platform user set. Maintenance and upgrades can again have a significant impact on your spending.

A progressive mobile experience – the solution

Progressive Web Apps – PWA has been a boon for businesses trying to make immense in the mobile age. A PWA is built and lives on the web but has capabilities similar to the native apps. The look and feel or how the app behaves is quite similar to native apps.

Progressive web apps provides easy optimization of your website to enable mobile experience for your users irrespective of the platform. It renders a seamless experience across iOS and Android platforms and does not require uploading on any app stores. This also eliminates the need for users to install updates on their phones. Every time there is a new version of the app, it just needs to be deployed on the webserver and is automatically available to the users when they visit next.

Benefits

World-renowned businesses utilizing PWAs are reaping some impressive benefits that demonstrate that PWAs are an excellent proposition for online entities looking to initiate their journey and association with their users on their mobiles. Businesses are looking at an economical solution to make their foray on the mobile or companies already having a native app but looking to expand their reach using a web-based mobile app.

The following compilation lists out the businesses that have adopted progressive web apps to garner impressive gains.

Renowned publisher – Forbes

Renowned Publisher

Headquartered in New York, Forbes is an American business biweekly. Steve Forbes is the editor-in-chief of the widely recognized magazine. Two of its distinct offerings are the Forbes 400 that lines out the richest people in the world and Forbes 500 that lists out the top performing companies in the world. Forbes launched its mobile PWA couple years ago and has experienced a favorable outing.

  • 0.8 seconds average load time, faster loading
  • 100% increase in user engagement
  • 43% more time spent in user session
  • Increase in scroll depth by 3 times
  • Advertisement views up by 20%
  • Average size of web pages reduced from 2MB to 30KB

Social media biggie – Twitter

Microblogging Site

A popular microblogging platform launched in 2006, Twitter is the second most successful social media platform after Facebook. Twitter introduced Twitter Lite, a PWA variant for smartphone users. An optimized version of the app Lite requires less data and storage space and loads quicker even on slower connections. The app occupies 1 Mb space on the device.

  • 65% increase in pages per session
  • 75% increase in tweets
  • 20% decrease in bounce rate
  • Loads quickly on 2G and 3G networks
  • Enables optimal utilization of data by only downloading content that the users clicks on
  • Significantly smaller size of the PWA app at 600 Kb compared to the size of the 23.5 Mb native app

Global coffee house chain – Starbucks

Global Coffee House Chain

Starbucks, an international coffee house chain and a popular brand, wanted to create a web based application. An app with dynamic functionalities and a native feel. They wanted to integrate a user-friendly ordering that could be seamlessly accessed through a url without having to install the app. Starbucks foresightedness to invest in a progressive app provided it with some healthy benefits.

  • High on performance, intuitive app for its users
  • Ability of the app to function across regions with low or inconsistent internet connectivity

There are many other international businesses that have benefited going the PWA route. You can read about them here. Do you know of a business that has benefited immensely using progressive web applications? Share it with us in the comments section.

The progress of PWA (Progressive Web Applications) mobile apps

The first part of a two blog series on Progressive Web Application introduces the easily adaptable and popular PWA and a very distinct history behind it. It also lines out the future and advantages of the web-based application. The second blog post will line out the adoption of PWAs among some of the recognized businesses and the benefits they have incurred.

The two blog posts will help digital business owners make up their mind on utilizing PWA to either make a foray into the mobile screens of their user base or complement their native app offering to reach out to a wider audience.

The first time the idea of Progressive Web Applications (PWA) was coined way back in 2007. Albeit, it was not christened PWA then. At the launch of the iPhone, the legendary Steve Jobs shared his idea of web apps developed in HTML5 using AJAX architecture that would be fully integrated into the device through the safari browser engine.

In 2015 Frances Berriman and Alex Russell, senior engineers with Google, observed a new class of websites providing a better user experience than traditional web applications. These applications rated high on user experience were independent of the browser tab and lived on their own while maintaining their ubiquity and linkability. Berriman and Russell named this new breed of applications as Progressive Web Applications.

Eric Bidelman, Senior Staff Developers Programs Engineer, introduced PWA at the Google I/O event in 2016.

The potential of PWAs can be gauged in the fact that two of the world’s biggest tech rivals Microsoft and Google, joined hands to make room for the technology.

Since becoming a widely recognized term in technology, PWA’s have made rapid strides towards widespread acceptance. Apple Inc., whose founder had first proposed web-based mobile applications, is actively pursuing it but calling it by a different name. They use the term: “HTML5 Apps” and “Home Screen web apps” instead.

Inside PWAs

A PWA is built and lives on the web but has capabilities similar to the native apps. Be it the look and feel or the way the app behaves it is quite similar to native apps.

A progressive web application leverages the website, adds some extra features that enhance the web properties to drive capabilities on mobile. In technical parlance, that would mean serving your web site over HTTPS and having a service worker and manifest.json file to turn your website into a PWA.

A service worker or a JavaScript enables the website to function in the absence of an internet connection. The service worker acts like a proxy server and acts as a bridge between the browser and the network and helps intercept network requests and serve custom responses.

PWA – How it works

PWA provides easy optimization of your website to enable mobile experience for your users irrespective of the platform. Simply put it renders a seamless experience across iOS and Android platforms and does not require uploading on any app stores. This also eliminates the need for users to install updates on their phones. Every time there is a new version of the app, it just needs to be deployed on the webserver and is automatically available to the users when they visit next.

PWAs are in demand and for legit reasons

Talk of PWAs and the discussion invariably steers towards a comparison between a native application and PWA capabilities. Listed below are a few factors enticing businesses to take a plunge into the mobile-first world with a PWA. It also is a viable option for businesses looking to complement their existing native application to expand their reach across devices and platforms.

  • Truly progressive: PWAs work for every user irrespective of the browser or the platform because the base is built with progressive enhancements.
  • Highly responsive: Progressive web applications are highly responsive and seamlessly adapt to the various screen sizes be it desktops, different mobile devices, and tablets.
  • Closely replicating native apps: The user experience and interface match up to that of native applications.
  • Easily and regularly updated: The process of running updates is convenient thanks to the data update process offered by service workers.
  • Secure: As PWAs run through HTTPS, it ensures safety in content delivery and content interaction.
  • Searchable: Indexed by search engines PWAs show up in Google search results.
  • Installable: Installing PWA applications is an easy affair as it does not require users to download it from the app store or play store, consuming little space.
  • Linkable: A clickable link is all it takes to install or share the application among users.
  • Offline functionality: PWAs work without the internet connection leveraging data cached from the last instance the user interacted with the application

We are confident that with the evolution of PWAs there will be many more benefits that may come to the fore. Are there benefits or interesting facts about PWA that you have come across and would like to share with us? Drop it here in the comments section.

Read the next blog on the adoption of PWAs among some of the recognized businesses and the benefits they have incurred.