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Technology trends in the retail trade

The biggest technology trends in the retail trade

Robots, VR glasses and chatbots - many technology trends are used in retail. We took a closer look at these trends and asked ourselves: what do other companies actually do?


Omnichannel retail 

The term "Omnichannel" stands for a multi-channel approach in retail where the customer ideally switches seamlessly between the virtual and the real shopping experience. Here there are many possibilities for practical implementation. Walmart, for example, experiments with SMS orders. Customers can order goods by SMS and have them delivered to their home on the same day. Another example is the "Snap Find Shop" app. If customers cannot find a product in the store in the right size, design or colour, they can use the smartphone app to take a picture of the goods - and can also use their smartphone to search for the desired product or similar offers directly in the store's online shop.

Artificial intelligence

Among the many applications with artificial intelligence, chatbots are one of the best known and most popular technology features among businesses. These are trained through AI to understand and answer customer questions. For example, online retail customer service chatbots can help to answer frequently asked customer questions quickly and efficiently. This improves the customer experience with the company and relieves employees. But AI can also be used offline. Munich Airport, for example, has conducted a test with the "Josie Pepper" AI robot. Travellers could ask the robot questions about departure times, terminal numbers or restaurants at the airport. The robot had not only programmed the answers, but also developed further with each interaction using a self-learning algorithm, making it increasingly precise and helpful. For the retail trade, comparable shop robots could be a good addition to customer advice and improve the overall shopping experience of shop visitors.

Language assistants

Strictly speaking, voice technologies are also based on artificial intelligence. But AI-based voice applications such as Siri or Alexa have become so popular that they play a special role in retail. And, as many might assume, language assistants are not limited to online shopping. They can also be effective for stationary retail. For example, a dog owner can ask his language assistant: "Where can I buy dog food near me at this time of day? If the store is networked, the Language Assistant guides the customer directly to a store he might never have considered otherwise.

Internet of Things

The Internet of Things could soon completely change the retail shopping experience. Because technology turns objects in the store into a digital experience. For example, a shopping cart with a GPS function is conceivable. Buyers would only have to upload their shopping list and the cart would automatically lead them to the desired products without customers losing a lot of time and nerves in their search.

Augmented reality

The stationary retail trade has something that online shopping will never have - the physical store. Combined with augmented reality, this can create a unique shopping experience for customers. It can be an electrical device that the buyer holds his smartphone on and can automatically read online reviews on his mobile phone. Or it can be an intelligent mirror that uses an RFID chip to recognize what the customer is wearing - and gives matching styling tips with products from the store.

Virtual reality

While augmented reality enhances physical experience, virtual reality allows customers to immerse themselves in new worlds. Travel agencies, for example, use VR to bring travel destinations closer to holidaymakers in an immediate way. Designer Rebecca Minkoff, on the other hand, uses the technology in her stores to arrange the goods optimally for her customers. This not only improves the in-store experience of buyers, but also increases sales.

Key trends and challenges in retail

There’s no doubt that bricks-and-mortar retail has been drastically changed by digitalization. But how far will the digital transition go, where will it stop, and above all – what’s next? Let’s take a look at the challenges and trends facing the retail industry.

Technology makes customers happy

Better product recommendations, faster delivery, and more tailor-made availability - Technology is becoming the main distinguishing feature between different retailers in the digital commerce world. As a result, MediaMarktSaturn is increasingly developing into a technology-driven company. 

“Digitalization in retail” – Martin Wild and Marc Knoppe present their joint book on retail in the digital world

Old smartphone vs. shopping voucher

Great – you finally received that long-awaited new smartphone for Christmas! But what are you going to do with your old mobile phone? People tend to chuck them into that special drawer reserved for tech we no longer need. But with spring cleaning on the agenda, it’s high time to get rid of them! And now, at the three Saturn stores in Berlin – Alexanderplatz, Europa-Center and Schlossstrasse – old cell phones can be easily exchanged for Saturn gift cards using reverse vending machines.