Retail Technology Trends in 2021

2020 forever transformed the way we shop. The pandemic propelled us into a new digital era of shopping, ushering in new retail technology trends to create a convenient and engaging experience for both retailers and customers. Such advancements have changed the retail landscape, affecting both large and small businesses alike.

It can be difficult to keep track of all the new trends with ever-changing consumer habits. If you want your RetailTech to succeed, you must first understand which RetailTech trends are here to stay and then consider how to implement them into your business.

Retail Technology Trend #1: Rapid delivery

You couldn’t ignore the booming rapid delivery space in 2021. The competition was fierce, with companies such as Gorillas, Instacart, Jokr, and Getir, to name a few, constantly vying for dominance.

The q-commerce space saw mega funding rounds, with Gorillas securing $1 billion in Series C funding, which is the largest round in the European grocery delivery sector to date and Jokr landing $260 million in Series B funding, taking the company to unicorn status with a valuation of $1.2 billion.

Presently, there are many rapid grocery delivery companies, but only a few will survive. Rapid delivery is a retail technology trend that continues to thrive as retailers look to expand beyond groceries to deliver a broader range of products more quickly.

Retail Technology Trend #2: Social Commerce

According to a recent study, in the last 12 months, 34% of shoppers bought a product online via PC, 38% bought a product online via tablet, and 44% bought a product online via mobile phone or smartphone.

Social commerce – shopping experiences on a social media platform – allows customers to shop online in a more seamless fashion. Users can make purchases directly from the social media app or site, rather than going to a third-party website.

Social commerce flourished in 2021 with YouTube launching a Holiday Stream and Shop Livestream event and TikTok expanding its partnership with Shopify.

This retail technology trend is here to stay, as the social commerce market in the United States is expected to reach $80 billion by 2025. It would then account for just over 5% of all retail e-commerce sales.

Retail Technology Trend #3: Augmented Reality

Augmented reality (AR), machine learning (ML), and artificial intelligence (AI) are three revolutionary retail trends that have taken over. AR in retail has evolved from a nice to necessary component of companies’ e-commerce offerings.

Many are still shopping online, even after the peak of the pandemic, which caused retailers to utilise AR to bridge the digital and physical worlds.

AR-powered commerce isn’t just limited to big names like IKEA; we’re seeing more startups invest in the technology, such as Jisp, who created an AR vouchering system called Scan & Save for brands, independent retailers, and their customers.

Customers appreciate AR experiences because it gives them more convenience and personalization, so it’s a retail technology trend that will certainly continue in 2022.

Retail Technology Trend #4: Checkout free stores

In 2021, every other week there was an announcement of a new checkout free store.

Sainsbury’s (Pick & Go) and Tesco (GetGo) opened branches that offer a streamlined shopping experience, following Amazon Fresh’s lead.

Machine learning, camera, and shelf technologies (including weight sensors and motion detectors) are installed in the stores to track which items customers pick up and take with them. There isn’t any scanning or contact required. You simply select what you require and depart.

Despite its appeal, checkout free technology is a niche concept that only attracts tech-savvy buyers. It requires customers to have a smartphone and a specific app, as well as to register payment information and, in some cases, to enter and exit using a QR code.

The checkout free retail technology trend may not be as popular in 2022. While convenience is important, it does not motivate individuals to spend more time and money at nearby stores in the same way that social shopping, or browsing with friends, does.

Businesses must invest in the right people to maintain these retail technology trends and respond quickly to shifting consumer preferences. Storm5 can help you find technically skilled candidates who can bring a wealth of experience to your company as Retail Technology Recruitment leaders. If you’d like to discuss your recruitment needs, please contact us!

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