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Smartphones are already with us 24/7, having turned into our most trusted companions. So, it’s only natural that they are also our best shopping advisers.

While many shoppers utilise mobile devices for research, purchases, and sharing impressions, some players from the retail industry also capitalise on the potential of mobile technology to cater to the shoppers of tomorrow.

AI search

According to Marketwatch modern stores are home to 40 000 more products than in the 1990s.

This is great for the market and is a testament to the richness of tastes and preferences among customers, but an abundance of options is also the enemy of shoppers on the rush.

It also doesn’t make it any easier to stick to a healthy menu as a substantial part of what we find on store aisles still belongs to the “junk food” category.

To make it easier for shoppers, software developer Slyce introduced an app utilising AI which helps shoppers navigate stores and create visual shopping lists from home.

What’s more, the solution comes with a scan-and-go feature which can potentially turn into an Amazon Go for any shop using the service.

Another retail experience company – Syte – also came up with a time-saving product for the retail industry.

Syte’s service lets shoppers pick desired items from photos instead of having to search for them through text.

Product pairing

“What should I serve with this bottle of Grenache Blanc?”

How many times have you wondered how to pair food and drink properly?

Mobile tech can help with that too, with more brands now turning to AI to study shopper behaviour and provide customers with useful product pairings.

US cider producer Angry Orchard Cider released an app that lets you get contextual information and food pairing suggestions for their products just by taking a photo of their products.

Food, clothes, and furniture companies are only some of the businesses providing contextual help to their customers—the move is actually growing popular among most of the retail world.

Targeted suggestions allow retailers to cross-sell and upsell, leading to happier customers, more purchases, and fewer returns due to poor pairing choices.

Rebecca Robins, global chief learning and culture officer at Interbrand said about luxury retail that it is evolving to become more about knowledge, learning and exchange which also applies to the whole retail industry.

It will be sooner rather than later that true one-stop-shops emerge where customers get tailored purchasing suggestions for everything from the car to the coffee machine, with each item fitting nicely with the rest.

POS visualisation

It’s great to find the right products quickly, but they might still not be a 100% match for your taste.

This is where visualisation apps come to the rescue by allowing shoppers to virtually assemble and try on makeup, apparel, and even furniture.

IKEA already did that last year when it introduced the IKEA Place app which lets customers virtually furnish their homes through augmented reality.

Other companies are also using the technology to create a better shopping experience.

Sephora is another retail giant that uses a smart mirror and AR at one of its Madrid stores to help shoppers virtually “put on” beauty products.

The mirror even presents customers with a QR code which they can scan and get a list of all of their preferred products for a convenient offline or online purchase.

Mobile payments

There have been talks for years that Sweden is on the verge of becoming the first cashless state.

Not everyone is sold on the idea, but at one point it will happen, and in more places than the Scandinavian country.

Cash payments are declining, and even bank cards are getting more obsolete now that smartphones have also turned into bank accounts.

It’s not surprising that mobile point-of-sale payments are preferred by many shoppers with a market rich in great internationally-recognised mobile payment apps like Google Pay, Apple Pay, and Samsung Pay.

The last one even uses a proprietary technology that allows the phone to act as a magnetic-stripe card for use on POS terminals that do not support NFC.

Security

While customer satisfaction is naturally one of the main priorities for retailers, so is security.

Cameras have been for a long time a natural part of shops, providing effective but limited service.

How well cameras do is mostly dependent on how many eyes monitor them—the more devices, the more people are needed to keep watch on the feed.

To help with that Japanese start-up VAAK came up with Vaak Eye—an AI-based surveillance system that detects and warns about suspicious behaviour.

Store security has always been an important concern for shop owners, but now with cashier-less shops becoming a thing, retailers will have to turn high-tech to keep their businesses secure sans human presence.

Yet, a representative for Amazon, which kind of pioneered the cashier-less store, said last year for the Verge that leaving without being charged for a product “happens so rarely that we didn’t even bother building in a feature for customers to tell us it happened.”

The statement suggests that Amazon is more than confident in the system it is using at its new retail project.

It was reported last winter that Amazon is eyeing the UK as its first out-of-USA location for Amazon Go store.

Other industries have already made mobile experience a focus of their efforts. Google has shifted its algorithms to rank pages based on their mobile version, virtually all online live casino websites offer mobile gaming which is booming globally, and mobile payment platforms such as Revolut are enjoying a solid fanbase.

The examples in this article, however, show that mobile tech is growing more deeply ingrained in the retail industry and is showing great potential for small and large businesses alike. Research suggests that the majority of retailers would like to implement more mobile tech in their business but lack the know-how. Perhaps more education on the topic is needed?