Recently, software platform Boomtown published a study that revealed that 44% of retail store customers said that a positive experience with technology installed in those locations made them more prone to visiting and recommending the brand in the future.

It’s certainly true that the e-commerce sector has eaten up much of local retail’s market share, in part because online commerce is the place where most of the innovations and optimization methods have occurred. That’s why bigger chains are starting to see the benefits of bringing those digital tools to a psychical space, allowing retail stores to give a fight.

Alibaba, the largest retailer in the world, has started to take advantage of artificial intelligence to further up its fashion ambitions. A recent study from Trend Watching suggested that the future of retail would be defined by deeper, more sophisticated marketing (deep retail, practical post-demographics) and more advanced technologies (a-commerce, or automated commerce, and more).

We’ve talked before with Beabloo in the past, a company that specializes precisely in digital signage and further improving the retail experience. They’ve published five main digital signage trends that will define the sector during 2019, something we’ll surely have to look forward to.

Artificial intelligence and personalization                                                           

“Artificial intelligence has landed in stores and the ideal platform for exploiting its potential is digital signage,” explains Beabloo. “Artificial intelligence integrated into signage analyzes the huge flow of in-store customer data by collecting it in real time, anonymously and while respecting their privacy.” The idea is simple: collecting and analyzing this data allows for retailers to profile customer’ behaviors, leading to a better optimization of information and the product offering, which can change depending on the context.

This is where technology takes stage, with gadgets like cameras, Wi-fi, beacons and apps—all relying in AI solutions. “For example, the Minerva solution, currently in development by Beabloo, will be able to know what content will be most interesting to each customer in the store thanks to this intelligent, real-time data processing.”

Virtual assistants

Besides offering real-time solutions, virtual assistants can also help employee time management by taking care of the more repetitive tasks. Interaction is a big plus for customers, who can experience the shopping process even as a game.

Beabloo has a virtual assistant of its own. It’s called Halo, and invites people to participate and interact. “Halo interacts with customers through digital signage and helps them find the products they are looking for in addition to letting them know the latest offers, events and activities.”

Interactivity

Continuing that idea of interactivity, it’s important to understand that modern customers have high expectation of their own, and they want to do things at their pace.

“In the future, we will see how solutions, like Beabloo’s Lift & Learn use digital signage combined with interactive technology to reveal information, images or related videos on a digital signage screen about products that a customer holds in their hands.” Interacting with environment (picking up things or simply touching things) can lead to interactive signage if the proper equipment is installed—mainly displays, but also audio and other tools.

The omnichannel model and m-commerce

“The needs and expectations of customers require an omnichannel model which brings together the online and offline worlds to make the purchasing process as comfortable as possible.” The one responsible for this? Smartphones, of course. And that’s why the industry is now talking about “m-commerce,” or mobile commerce.

The company has a Mobile Engagement tool that offers “all the benefits of this trend” by communicating with in-store customers’ smartphones through beacons which attract their attention if close enough, leading to further interaction through the device.

Towards a-commerce

“The next crucial step within next year’s digital signage trends is the concept of automatic commerce, or a-commerce.” According to Beabloo, stores already know that customers demand “technology, personalization, empowerment and freedom.”

For example, customers can go to a store to see, touch and choose products, but the payment process will be automated so they don’t have to wait in line or carry their purchases home with them. “The purchase is made online with the products the customer chooses during their journey around the store.” They can simply scan what they want with their phones, with payment made automatically and a receipt sent through email, just as if buying online.

In short, the evolution of e-commerce and m-commerce is what will lead us to a-commerce. “The predictions of the evolution of retail in 2019 are incredible and have already begun.”