Supermarket Sweep: 5 Important Retail Innovations

As a nation, we Brits simply can’t get enough of shopping. No sooner are there a few pounds in our pocket and we’re making a bee-line for the nearest supermarket or mall to look for a bargain.

In answer to this unremitting desire to propel ourselves in to the milieu of the 21st century shopping experience, retailers are having to come up with ever more inventive and original ways to encourage us to buy things.

This includes using the myriad of technological designs and innovations at their disposal, and by teaming up with some of the most cutting edge hi-tech companies in the world practically every week ushers in a new shopping techniques or apps designed to improve our shopping experience.

Here are a few of the most significant innovations to hit the retail sector in the past few years.



This will have a potentially massive effect on the way ahead for both shoppers and retailers in the not-so-distant future, allowing shoppers to use their phones to interact with stores. Smartphones can use Wi-Fi networks and GPS so retailers can potentially track customer journeys in store, which would retailers to identify customer browsing patterns.  It’s a tool that also allows customers to find things more easily, and Tesco and Harrods are trialling in-store navigation that directs shoppers to specific products. Taking it one step further, John Lewis is looking at using GPS to identify shoppers in specific stores to send them particularly relevant offers.



An invaluable and cost effective method for retailers to gauge particular shopping habits and trends, it is one of the primary ways of modern shops/shopper interaction in the age of multichannel retailing. It’s a boon for giving retailers an indispensible view of how customers use the myriad of ecommerce options available to them, including online, mobile and in-store. And, as New Labour once proudly proclaimed:  “Things can only get better.” With technology getting better seemingly every week, there’s the potential for analytic systems to incorporate real-time responses, useful for, for example, a customer enquiring if a particular item is in stock.


Self Service

Practically every supermarket is lined with multiple self-service tills, but the actual technology to use them is still evolving. For example, supplying an app that allows you to use your Smartphone to self-scan items is currently being developed, as is a variation on the self service theme known as the internet kiosk. If only they had an app that could reduce the size of the queues.


Mobile Commerce

Mobile phones are omnipresent and popular anyway, so it makes sense that retailers are cottoning on to this fact by producing various apps and technologies to keep abreast of this ever-burgeoning trend. Customers are now able to access information about price range, offers and discounts.

In addition, the barcode-based QR (Quick Response) codes are featuring more frequently in catalogues, restaurants and stores.  The only possible disadvantage is that the shop assistants themselves aren’t as techno-savvy or clued up all the deals, and some retailers are combating this potential problem by equipping staff with tablets which gives details about particular products and online information.


Social Networking

As if there was any doubt that Facebook and social networking would show its face – it takes up more than five times more of users’ time than any other website.  Interesting though, although a lot of retailers have a Facebook page, many of them are reluctant to directly sell online through links on the site, instead providing users with special offers and daily updates.

These are some of the main technical innovations and kind of crm software that retailers have adopted to try to enhance and improve our shopping experience and with the technological goal posts constantly changing you can bet it won’t be long before there are more gadgets and gizmos to entice us to part with our pounds.

Do you think these wizardly technical advances are a help or a hindrance?

Featured images:
  •  License: Creative Commons image source  Image by: Aranami

James Duval is an IT specialist who is addicted to his Xbox and all things techie. He’s also something of a shopaholic, and with so many things to buy he expects the retail experience to be able to cope with his demanding retail needs. He blogs regularly for K3 Retail.

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