Ashfords LLP. Technology in Retail Report 2015.

Technology in Retail

Retail Re-Imagined

Read our blog posts covering the latest news on technology within the retail sector.

Technology and the customer

  • Readily Available Retail Technology

    10 April 2017

    We can quickly conjure up the image of eager technology sales reps, enthusiastic about their company’s offering to transform our business. And quite often they’re right. But integration is another matter, and what some critics deem the company’s ‘clay layer’ – that cadre of employees most resistant to technological or process change – may derail an otherwise worthy tech upgrade because of their affinity for the status quo.

  • Effective Retail Analytics

    5 April 2017

    There is data and then there is knowing how to use it. The findings on data usage by retail consultants eCommera three years ago don’t seem too removed from the status quo: then, only 23 per cent of UK retailers felt comfortable making the right business decisions quickly based on the data they collected, and nearly half of those canvassed considered their business intelligence tools to be inadequate.

  • Robots and Retail in the US

    3 April 2017

    Retail store Lowe’s has a robot at the door. The LoweBot greets customers and locates their intended purchases in the cavernous environs of this American DIY giant. Using speech recognition to engage, it can be programmed to understand as many as twenty-five languages.

  • What 2017 Holds for Retail Tech

    29 March 2017

    A 2016 report from digital targeting firm Criteo has as much as half of all retail e commerce transactions taking place over multiple devices, and multiple sources confirm that the majority of online sales are happening on mobile devices.

  • Biometrics and Retail

    17 March 2017

    Biometrics are biological measurements – fingerprints, facial recognition and even certain demographics – used to identify us, and their impact on retail analytics is popping up in surprising ways.

  • The Move to Paperless Retail

    15 March 2017

    When the futurist idea of paperless offices is discussed, it’s often in the context of law firms, banks and bureaucrats. The purported cost savings alone make it worth looking into. Tesco trialled digital receipts at its self-service checkouts: instead of paper, the evidence of your daily shop shows up by email or through an app.

  • Big and Small: A Refresher on Big Data in Retail

    10 March 2017

    Technology is the consumers’ conduit – we start with a mobile app for product research, jump to a price-comparison website, and then ask Alexa to reorder some toiletries – it’s necessarily also retailers’ window into our behaviour, if they take advantage.

  • Your Name in Lights: Digital Signage and Digital Shopfronts

    8 March 2017

    If the new wave of interactive retail technology is anything to go by, shoppers are thirsting for the experiences they provide. In-store projectors bring casual browsers in to play games, and human-scaled interactive kiosks provide a fun and attractive way of browsing digital catalogues to compare prices and models.

  • Location-Based Technology Finding its Feet

    6 March 2017

    Shoppers are getting more used to the idea that when they visit that stylish high-street outerwear store with an urban feel, it likely ‘knows’ they’re there. Location-based technology (LBT) hands retailers a way of merging their physical presence with their digital one, which meaningfully improves the overall customer experience, if not the wider omni-channel strategy.

  • Virtual Reality’s Promise for Retail

    1 March 2017

    Virtual reality and its sister technology augmented reality (or VR and AR) have been long on promise but short on delivery in many ways. The technology is advancing at an unprecedented pace, however, and 2017 might well be remembered as somewhat revolutionary as far as our shopping experiences are concerned.

  • What the Launch of the iPhone 7 Tells Us

    24 February 2017

    Apple’s iPhone 7 brought with it the usual commentary and criticism that one would expect from an iPhone launch, but what was different this time? The world’s most visible smartphone certainly made some waves with improved camera quality and the controversial removal of its headphone jack.

  • The State of the Art of Retail Security

    21 February 2017

    Retailers frequently and necessarily find themselves as the most committed users of security as a service. Security as a service will grow 12.7% a year during 2016–2020, according to London-headquartered market research company Technavio.

  • At the Forefront of Retail Banking

    20 February 2017

    Simplicity is a tenet of the customer experience; very few people want things to be more complicated. Combine that truism with increasing expectations for instant online problem-solving and we can see why the forefront of retail banking is built on digitalisation.

  • Are Digital Wallets Making Cash And Credit Cards Obsolete?

    15 February 2017

    Are we about to witness the end of the physical money era? A logical consequence of innovations that are already underway, payments are going to be even more digitised in the near future, and mobile devices will ease the way.

  • The Perils of Drinking and Shopping

    17 February 2017

    Who among us has not regretted a purchase? The idea that shopping can be driven by compulsive instincts is not new, but relatively few of us have ended up in a gigantic shopping mall, completely drunk and armed with an array of superfluous (but assuredly amazing) items we cannot afford or do not really need. Sip-and-spend, or the phenomenon of shopping under the influence (SUI), was not much of an issue before the advent of the Internet.

  • Personalising the Retail Experience with Technology

    10 February 2017

    Everybody wants to be recognised as an individual, which explains why retailers with thoughtful tailored services stand out, and personalisation efforts not only support relationships that facilitate repeat business, the very undertaking builds a better understanding of the customer.

  • Face Mapping and Beauty Sector Advancements

    8 February 2017

    One estimate has facial recognition technology generating $6.5 billion by 2018. However robust the eventual figure, face mapping has been beneficial for retail, in particular as increasingly sophisticated software simultaneously enhances security and improves the shopping experience.

  • A Healthy Tech Sector in Post-Brexit Britain

    7 February 2017

    There are some dark Brexit clouds hanging over the service sector. Whilst not immune to its own challenges, the tech scene’s future seems relatively replete with silver linings.

  • How 3D Printing Can Shake Up Retail

    1 February 2017

    3D printing is quintessential of-the-moment technology and its disrupting aspects will amount to a structural change for certain industries, such as toy manufacturing, as parts of the supply chain will eventually disappear completely. Retailers can expect big changes as their bricks and mortar outlets offer on-demand 3D printing.

  • Where Sales Associates and In-store Tech Intersect

    16 January 2017

    Online shopping has forever changed the way people buy. The influence of modern technology on retail transactions begins as early as the initial buying decision; people are more likely to purchase on the strength of a friend’s Facebook comment or after seeing a positive TripAdvisor review than they are to follow the advice of a sales rep.

  • Blockchains in the Context of Fashion

    13 January 2017

    If you are coming to blockchains anew, explaining them as a widely distributed database that securely maintains a growing record of information in an open decentralised system may not clear things up. Think of the data on a widget moving through the supply chain: each new piece of information about its manufacture is recorded in blocks, and once the block is complete it attaches to the chain in a linear, chronological order to form part of a permanent database. The technology was conceived years ago and serves to underpin the digital currency bitcoin.

  • Morrisons launches store pick-up and delivery service with Amazon

    21 November 2016

    One of the 'big four' UK supermarkets, Morrisons, has partnered with Amazon Prime to allow its customers in selected areas to order a full Morrisons shop online via the Prime Now app. This new service will offer Amazon customers same-day delivery of goods from its stores, with the option to pick-up deliveries in store, or to be delivered within one hour for £6.99 or in a two hour slot for free.

  • The Amazon Dash button has now launched, what's next for the future of technology e-commerce?

    2 September 2016

    E-commerce giant, Amazon has launched a new and innovative physical device, known as the Dash button, which when pressed automatically orders a household item that has run out such as nappies, toilet roll, washing powder and instant coffee. The pioneering Dash button will be available in the UK for all Amazon Prime customers.

  • The National Living Wage: Rising Costs Raising Concerns

    10 August 2016

    For the past couple of months, many minimum-wage workers have enjoyed a little extra in their pay cheques. It was hoped that the government’s National Living Wage, introduced on 1 April 2016 at the rate of £7.20 an hour for workers 25 and older, would reduce the government’s £30 billion bill for working tax credits and end the subsidising of suppressed wages.

  • Artificial Intelligence and the Role of the Salesperson

    5 August 2016

    There was a bit of a to-do back in 2013 as the press speculated on the potential for robotics, powered by artificial intelligence (AI), to replace human salespeople. Three years down the line, are robots any closer to performing customer service and sales tasks?

  • Face-Recognition Technology: Its Uses and Dangers

    29 July 2016

    Ever-increasing levels of competition and consumer demands call for more clever ways to mine behaviour. Given that facial-recognition software allows for the effortless collection of customer data, its adoption is no surprise. In fact, a 2015 survey conducted by Computer Science Corp found that almost thirty per cent of UK retailers are already using the technology.

  • The Rise of Retail Start-Up Incubators

    28 July 2016

    When it comes to improving the in-store experience, industry watchers are describing an unprecedented amount of support and investment from retailers. Both established and plucky IT suppliers are generally the go-to for solving their technology problems. More recently, however, large chain retailers are supporting the effort by launching incubators and accelerators.

  • Retail and the Price of Oil

    22 July 2016

    The remarkable decline in the price of oil has had a huge impact on aspects of the global economy ranging from manufacturing and transport costs to the price we pay for our food. Despite discussions among OPEC members about addressing price levels, the price is still more than 50 per cent below where it was in June 2014.

  • Eurozone Retail in Flux

    18 July 2016

    Following a promising start to 2016’s eurozone sales figures, growth is now slowing and economists were expressing concern – before the Brexit vote results – about the effect on an already choppy global economy.

  • The Rise of Psychographics over Demographics?

    14 July 2016

    Knowing your customer is perhaps the most crucial step to securing their custom, and for this purpose the traditional approach has been demographic analysis. Technology, however, has opened the door to another kind of insight: psychographics.

  • The Online Retailing of Food in 2016

    11 July 2016

    The £178 billion UK groceries market is characterised by price competition, as led by cost cutters Lidl and Aldi, and rapidly evolving shopping habits, much of that facilitated by technology.

  • Spending Patterns and the New £30 Contactless Limit

    7 July 2016

    Following an adjustment to the upper limit on contactless card transactions from £20 to £30 last September, transactions between £20 and £30 have grown nearly 20 per cent, and transactions below £20 have grown even more. Indeed, 36 million contactless payments have been executed since then to the tune of £900 million.

  • Speed to Market and Modern Expectations

    5 July 2016

    Consumers look for the newest products, and each retailer wants to stock them first. Speed to market, however, means something different depending on product category and the retailer’s reach.

  • Applying Technology and Partnerships to the Benefit of Retail

    1 July 2016

    It has nearly become a truism that shoppers expect greater flexibility and product choices, as well as consistent levels of stock and responsive customer service. Such expectations now define the consumer mindset, as illustrated by the fact that 86% of consumers would rather spend more to get a better shopping experience. Many of these same shoppers expect prices to be lower and response times to be quicker. How to keep up?

  • Retail Technology Trends of 2016

    28 June 2016

    Staying on top of ever-advancing technology is not easy for retailers, and it’s often not cheap. But there are numerous ways to innovate. So how are retailers creating unique experiences?

  • Surviving in an Online World: Is There a Place for Physical Stores?

    27 June 2016

    First the digital revolution took our DVDs, then it decimated our newspapers, and now it is after our most beloved shops.

  • Omni-channel Trends Changing the Shopping Experience

    17 June 2016

    As modern expectations become the norm with customers expecting to shop and communicate with retailers at their convenience, many brands are necessarily rethinking their marketing strategy with a focus on omni-channel integration.

  • A Brief Overview of What Innovation Means in Retail

    16 June 2016

    For those coming to the retail landscape with fresh eyes, a sensible place to start is with an understanding of where retailers are trying to effect change. Where are the stalwarts of retail lending their energies, or at least watching closely, to give them an edge? In other words, what’s new?

  • The Adoption of Virtual Currencies

    10 June 2016

    Walking by your local high street bank, you would be forgiven for failing to perceive that the financial services sector may be on the cusp of a technological revolution.

  • Contactless Technology and Security

    8 June 2016

    With a mere tap of one’s card on a terminal, contactless credit and debit cards let us make payments of up to £30 without so much as a PIN.

  • Beacon Technology: Slow to Take Off

    3 June 2016

    Since Apple first announced its foray into beacon technology back in 2013, the expectation was for a revolution in the way that retailers engage with shoppers. By 2014, however, less than one per cent of US stores employed the technology despite its promise for increased revenue.

  • Harnessing Beacons to Engage with Shoppers

    1 June 2016

    Back in 2014, online trendspotter InfoWorld predicted that widespread adoption of beacon technology by major retailers was imminent. Beacon software was celebrated for its ability to connect to our smartphones and tablets so retailers could market to us directly and launch a new level of interactive retail experience.

  • Turning Consumer Insights into Profit

    27 May 2016

    In a world of big data, gathering consumer insights has never been easier. With the proverbial click of the button, we use cookies to track online customer journeys and uncover all kinds of detailed information about how our customers respond to our marketing and products.

  • Real Law, Virtual Reality

    25 May 2016

    The sort of technology that immerses us in virtual reality ("VR") worlds we once viewed flatly on computer screens has, for several years now, been wowing audiences at technology shows with interactive, three-dimensional experiences.

  • Are Drones Delivering?

    20 May 2016

    In November last year Amazon made headlines with their announcement that, in the near future, they would use automated drones to deliver packages to customers within 30 minutes of an order. With other companies already pursuing similar technology, just how fast is drone delivery becoming a reality?

  • How Could Brexit Affect UK Retail?

    18 May 2016

    Reports from the likes of Moody’s and the British Retail Consortium have fuelled the ongoing debate surrounding Brexit’s effect on the UK retail sector. Merely the uncertainty of the post-Brexit landscape could spur an economic retrenchment made worse by increased barriers to trade, prolonged investment decisions, and shifting migration policies.

  • The Future of Virtual Reality

    11 March 2016

    Virtual reality ("VR") has been hailed as the next big thing before, but following Facebook’s $2 billion purchase of start-up Oculus, known for its Oculus Rift VR headset, industry analysts’ predictions that thirty million headsets per year are expected to ship by 2020 seem rather more grounded in (non-virtual) reality.

  • The Landscape of Popular Retail Apps

    8 March 2016

    Certain retail apps prove hugely successful while others are found wanting in terms of ease of use and an intuitive user interface. Evidence suggests that, at least amongst millennials, apps are downloaded predominantly because the corresponding mobile website is not as easy to use as the app.

  • Crowdsourcing in Retail

    7 March 2016

    Best known among crowdsourcing platforms is the mighty Wikipedia, the number 7 Alexa ranked encyclopaedia, but crowdfunding, ultimately a subset of crowdsourcing that involves garnering money from participants, has been tapped by platforms like Seedrs and Crowdcube to give life to thousands of ideas.

  • The Changing Role of the Retail Salesperson

    4 March 2016

    It’s news to precisely no one that the competition faced by physical stores from online retailers is intensifying. To retain their share of shoppers, bricks and mortar businesses must necessarily evolve.

  • The Evolution of Retail

    2 March 2016

    Using enthusiastic floor staff to woo them and exciting displays to wow them is at the heart of retailing to customers. Online shopping, on the other hand, owes much of its popularity to sheer convenience: we order products from the sofa, pay for them with a card or PayPal, then simply wait for a knock on the door.

  • Managing the Try In-store, Buy Online Phenomenon

    26 February 2016

    By now retailers are well aware that shoppers try on items in-store with a view to buying them later online. Similarly popular is the concept of showrooming whereby customers browse the shop but use their smartphones to find cheaper substitutes elsewhere.

  • The Rise of Innovation Partnerships

    18 February 2016

    When US retail giant Target announced last year that it was partnering up with a well-known start-up accelerator, it was making a claim for embracing technology – not merely as an add-on but as the way forward.

  • How is Big Data Changing Retail?

    16 February 2016

    Big data can seem like a slippery term, but research out of the McKinsey Global Institute has cited its rather concrete potential to increase retailers’ operating margins by 60 per cent.

  • Customer-Centricity: Buzzword or Real Basis for Improving Retailers' Fortunes?

    12 February 2016

    Customer-centricity involves placing the customer at the centre of the business and building company practices and messaging around that entirely customer-focused centre.

  • The Push and Pull Between Data and Privacy

    10 February 2016

    The promise of big data carries with it levels of personalisation and problem-solving that were not envisioned by the general populace even a few short decades ago.

  • The Risks of Underperforming Retail Technology

    4 February 2016

    Given an increasingly tech-savvy consumer base, retailers are necessarily leveraging the latest technology both in-store and online.

  • Mobile, Wearable Technology and Payment Channels

    2 February 2016

    Technologists are designing wearable technology to join mobile and tablet devices in making frictionless contactless payments.

  • What’s Next in Retail Technology?

    28 January 2016

    In 2014, a full forty per cent of consumers in PwC’s annual consumer survey declared that they purchase goods from a physical store once a week.

  • Drones that Deliver

    27 January 2016

    As we become accustomed to ever-higher levels of convenience, major retailers including Amazon and, more recently, Argos, are offering next-day and same-day delivery. The demand is there, however, for even faster delivery. Enter the drones.

  • Where are Virtual Currencies Headed?

    20 January 2016

    In the face of their increasing prevalence, virtual currencies have taken centre stage in debates about transparency and financial inclusion.

  • The Evolution of Contactless Payments

    18 January 2016

    The remarkable growth in the volume and value of contactless payments across the European Union is the most obvious evidence of an evolving payments ecosystem.

  • Beacons and Privacy

    11 January 2016

    In a retail context, beacons are essentially Bluetooth transmitters that communicate with an authorised app when the device housing that app is within the vicinity.

  • The Emergence of Beacon Technology

    8 January 2016

    When a shopper arrives at their location – a store, a mall foyer, a commercial square – beacons use Bluetooth technology to alert an app or website on the shopper’s smartphone. Businesses deploy beacons to interact with customers by transmitting useful information about products and offers.

  • A Primer on Omni-Channel Marketing

    7 January 2016

    Omni-channel marketing, or simply omni-channel, refers to a holistic or integrated approach to companies’ engagement with their customers. When done right, the customer’s experience is consistent whether shopping on a desktop computer, tablet, smartphone or on the high street.

  • Integrating Online and Offline Retail

    5 January 2016

    Flying somewhat in the face of conventional wisdom that an online presence is the be-all and end-all, evidence points to the market expecting not only some form of offline presence from retailers but a smooth integration of the consumer’s online and offline experiences to boot.

  • Technology and Compliance in Retail

    4 January 2016

    Questions of compliance must be addressed without losing sight of sustainable, profitable and scalable business practices. To meet even higher modern standards of compliance, retailers are turning to technology to ensure they are on top of stock management, health and safety, and the supply chain.

  • Where Worlds Collide

    22 December 2015

    Gone are the days when buying something involved simply going to the shop, browsing the available products, paying by cheque or cash and then taking them home to enjoy.

  • More Collaboration Urgently Needed

    5 November 2015

    Ashfords LLP research reveals data security threats and the need for innovation drives the demand for closer relationships with tech suppliers.

  • Wedded to Contactless Payment

    4 November 2015

    The limit on contactless payments has just been raised to £30. However, the results of our survey show that retailers think that the limit should actually have been raised to £40 - £50.