AICorner OfficeExpert Opinion

Emerging Technologies that are Making Offline Retail Safe and Smart

Listed here are some key emerging technology enabled solutions that are making offline retail smart and safe.


The Indian online retail industry has witnessed an upward spike since 2015. Consumers’ appetite for ecommerce increased further following the outbreak of the pandemic. India’s retail market grew at 5.5% despite the pandemic and the country, in fact, outperformed other global economies on this metric. While most of this has been due to the rise in eCommerce, shoppers are not shying away from now visiting brick and mortar stores to finally experience traditional shopping, post the massive vaccination and return of normalcy.

However, keeping caution in mind and with an aim to woo shoppers while keeping basic safety protocols in mind, many brick and mortar stores are adopting emerging technology enabled solutions to provide safe, secure and smarter traditional retail experience to their customers.

With the festive season approaching, digital adoption across traditional retail has further accelerated, to further ensure they can leverage the new found shopper enthusiasm in the post COVID era.

Listed here are some key emerging technology enabled solutions that are making offline retail smart and safe.

1. Cloud Computing: Cloud computing is going to transform offline retail in a big way. A significant amount of money can be saved as cloud computing doesn’t require retailers to purchase and manage a whole complex system. Cloud computing offers flexibility and scalability and retail stores have realized the benefits it offers over outdated legacy systems. Offsite access to data became more important than ever during the pandemic and it is safe to say that physical stores will move to cloud computing in large numbers in the near future.

2. Predictive Analytics: Big data analytics in the retail market is expected to reach USD 13.26 billion by the end of 2026. Leveraging data for predictive analysis is gaining wider popularity as it enables retailers to create personalized customer experiences and engage with them in a more customized manner. From effective inventory management and analyzing demand for products, to capturing customer trends, big data analytics is set to emerge as a key technology that will facilitate optimized pricing, supply chain movement, and customer loyalty.

3. Artificial intelligence and machine learning: Artificial Intelligence in retail market globally is projected to grow from $4.84 billion in 2021 to $31.18 billion in 2028 at a CAGR of 30.5%

AI and machine learning facilitates substantial savings on operational costs. From in-store assistance to customer behavior prediction, AI and machine learning has multiple applications in the retail industry. AI and ML have enabled retailers to replace paper price tags with smart shelf tags. AI also enables provision for customers to view complete information about a product including videos, detailed product specifications among other crucial details. Inventory management is another key area where AI and ML has been found extremely useful. AI ensures real-time monitoring capabilities which offloads the burden of mundane repetitive tasks from in-store staff. AI based Voice Bots are also an excellent example of AI which has made customer support easier and efficient.

4. RFID Technology for Stock management: Retail stores are increasingly embracing RFID technology for inventory management, in addition to predictive analysis. Individual package scanning and checking of receipts is time consuming and no longer a feasible option. RFID technology substantially contributes to achieving stock accuracy as it streamlines the entire inventory process. The technology can alert employees as and when products go out of stock. Shopper experience is greatly enhanced as there are fewer instances of non-availability of products. RFID chips attached to hang tags of products help the staff locate the product and guide customers, saving time of both customers and employees.

5. Contactless payments: Consumers now prefer contactless payments and self-checkout owing to safety concerns. Retail stores are gradually shifting towards cashless payments and self-checkout systems to avoid contact with customers. Retail stores will invest in bar code scanning systems and track product movement to derive data on purchase and analyze in-store traffic patterns. Customers can be prepared for a grab and go experience with contactless payments and self-checkout in retail stores soon.

6. Augmented Reality: Retail stores have realized that augmented reality can open doors to more opportunities for sales. Customers prefer to buy some products only after they are convinced of their actual look and feel. However, visiting a physical store and feeling overwhelmed and confused by a wide range of choices again translates into a poor shopping experience. Retail stores are hence investing in Augmented Reality for customers to view or try the product online, shortlist their options and make the final purchase quickly after arriving at the physical store.

Wrapping up

Technology now pervades every aspect of the shopping experience. With the evolving needs of today’s consumers, leveraging technology to create a memorable experience is crucial. Brick and mortar stores are shifting gears towards fostering a personalized shopping environment by seamless integration of technology in several areas of retail operations. The technology trends mentioned above will indeed take the shopping experience to a whole new level whereas retail stores stand to benefit from decreased costs, smarter engagement and data-driven business decisions.

(The author Sumana Iyenger is the Co-Founder Goavega and the views expressed in this article are her own)

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