Contactless sport? The rise of retail technology

By Bekki Bushnell, Head of Business Development

This week, the maximum spend via contactless payments was raised to £30 in the UK.

This follows a large rise in the number of people using contactless cards and – interestingly – will cover the average supermarket spend of £25.

Contactless payment very much feels like the first step in a shopping revolution, as bricks-and-mortar stores battle back against what was once seen as the harbinger of doom for all retail stores – online shopping.

The growth of in-store retail technology is a development we are closely attuned to here at Whiteoaks, with a number of major retail clients at the forefront of innovation in this field.

What is clear is that, while online shopping has numerous benefits, consumers still crave the personalisation and expertise that can only be delivered in person. This gives retailers a major foothold.

A survey we recently ran with one of our clients, Vista Retail Support, found more than three-quarters of shoppers believe wearable technology will be in use in stores within the next five years, giving access to faster payments, personalised offers and product reviews, among many other benefits.

This proves that the battleground is changing – and it is all thanks to technology. Better data analytics matched to a shopper’s location, social media profile and more enables personalised offers to be sent to a consumer’s smart devices.

Improvements in in-store WiFi and other network capabilities mean beacons can be set up across a store providing access to promotions or product information, while there is even the possibility to tailor marketing campaigns based on whether your facial expression is happy or sad.

It may be a bland, hateful, overused statement, but we are an increasingly connected society – and this brings with it a certain level of expectation. Breaking news is now the expectation, not the norm, and this insatiable appetite for everything to be delivered right to our smart devices is creating shockwaves across myriad industries. However, few are as well-equipped to take advantage as retail.

And all of this is without delving too far into the world of smart watches, smart tattoos, smart jeans or any other form of wearable technology that may grace us in the future.

A walk through my local shopping centre makes for a sad experience these days, with coffee shops and mobile phone stores now dominating. With that in mind, I am personally rooting for the plucky retailer – at least to redress the balance.

You see, the “death of the High Street” has wider social implications than just lining the pockets of major retailers. Let’s hope the continued rise of in-store technology gives Britain’s retailers a much-needed shot-in-the-arm.