Person using iPhone to help shop for clothes

Utilising Technology in Retail

May 9, 2019
5 min read

Embracing the evolving landscape of retail, the integration of technology has become pivotal in shaping every customer experience. Recent innovations have helped to completely transform the purchase journey, not just focusing on selling a product but selling an entire immersive experience every time a customer enters a retail landscape, both in person and online. We’re looking at some game-changing new technology and some tried and true old technology that can be utilised to create new ideas in retail.

Using Technology to Boost the Customer Experience

We found in our UK Clothing Retailing report that gamification can create a useful link between the online and in-store experience. Almost 60% of males aged 16-34 responded that combining gaming technology and online shopping would improve their purchase journey. This gamification can come in the form of engagement rewards on social media. In our Menswear UK 2023 report, we found that there was a high level of interest from Gen Z, Younger and Older Millennial men in receiving rewards for sharing brand images or videos on social media. 

Gamification is also a positive strategy for customer loyalty because it encourages more regular interaction. One shining example is Asda, who offer milestone missions in its app, requiring the consumer to shop there a certain number of times. These missions translate to vouchers and savings and encourage shoppers to not only shop at Asda but also to shop healthily and mindfully there. Some of these missions include finding star products for instant cash rewards or purchasing a certain amount of fruit and vegetables. 

Mintel’s experts also found that digital data if used effectively, can help to enhance the personalisation of the client experience. Many brands used to send the same emails to all clients, but not anymore as they use data to ensure they are producing more personalised messages for their customers. In this vein, they’re also using different landing pages to better speak to the different categories of customers they have.

This technology has advanced to encompass app personalisation too. For example, luxury brands have been taking advantage of this technology to create bespoke experiences for their more affluent customers. Prada teamed up with Adobe to ensure customers can receive real-time personalisations, such as being invited in-store to view seasonal colours for the handbag they were just looking at! With the introduction of AI software, like Chatgpt, this technology will become much more efficient and accessible to all brands.

Old Tech, New Ideas

Since the pandemic, the use of QR codes has skyrocketed. They are cheap to create but still offer great insights into shopper preferences. QR codes are useful as information points where customers can find out more about products and stock availability. We found that many consumers hope to see QR codes being used for sustainable purposes. For example, labels on clothing items could include a QR code to more information about that item’s manufacturing process, environmental impact and disposal options. 

Physical Stores Still Play an Important Role

Physical stores still play an important role in the retail mix. Even online retail giants have moved into the physical space – Amazon’s Fresh stores for example. These stores are powered by Just Walk Out Technology that can recognise when products are removed from shelves. Using the Amazon app, customers can scan the store QR code, and leave with their shopping and their Amazon account will be charged later. 

Asos also opened its first physical store in November 2023. The four-story pop-up, named Asos IRL, had an emphasis on immersion for its customers. Shoppers were able to use Snapchat in the fitting rooms to see digital avatars of themselves wearing the clothing. 

New and unique in-store experiences have become a major draw for customers. Many physical retailers have chosen to create immersive experiences for shoppers with the help of technology. For example, Uniqlo has a successful T-shirt design station in Covent Garden where customers can create their designs and have them printed in minutes. 

Many brands have also chosen to take the in-store journey to the metaverse, creating augmented-reality shopping experiences that can blend gamification, virtual try ons and easily accessible product information with the familiar feel of perusing your favourite shop. During Fashion Week 2023, Hugo Boss did just this with their virtual showroom, users could shop the runway looks and earn items along the way.

Looking Ahead With Mintel

At Mintel, we’re confident that the trend of immersive retail will continue. Pop-up stores provide a limited-time, exclusive shopping experience that can push technological boundaries and experiment with new concepts, like gamification, without committing to a permanent space. Pop-up and metaverse stores can also accommodate the fleeting nature of trends, enabling brands to continually reinvent themselves in the ever-evolving retail landscape, staying perpetually vibrant and relevant.

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Nicholas Carroll
Nicholas Carroll

Associate Director – Retail, Nicholas Carroll has a particular flare for the grocery industry but analyses and writes in-depth reports on a range of UK and European retail markets.

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