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Modern retail: Attracting consumers with tech

Coffee is doing it. Taxi services are doing it. Retail is, well, working on it. Technology is reshaping the modern landscape of how consumers interact with businesses, from buying coffee through our phones to requesting cars at the push of a button. However, the one industry struggling to make their move to a digital world seems to be the least likely.

Last year was the absolute worst year for retail sales since 2009, according to Business Insider. Clothing and general-merchandise sales proved to be to take the steepest decline among retail types. However, online retailers were able to keep holiday, and yearlong, sales alive in 2015. Amazon’s sales climbed 22 percent in Q4 and 20 percent for all of 2015, according to Internet Retailer.

To maintain relevance for the future, here’s some technological trends big retailers have successfully utilized to attract modern shoppers, according to CIO.

  1. Location personalization with “beacons” can provide mobile shoppers with the best deals to a their store within a convenient distance. Business Insider predicts beacons will influence upwards of $4 billion in U.S. retail sales this year, and increase as much as 10 times by 2017.
  2. Using biometric technology, such as fingerprint scanners, voice identification and facial recognition, to identify personalized buying habits. Technology consultants at Frost & Sullivan predict a half billion consumers to be using smartphones equipped with biometric technology by 2017.
  3. Go mobile. E-commerce is expected to make a shift towards mobile with an expected 25 percent of all retail sales being done via mobile devices by the end of this year.
  4. Social networks are great ways to connect with your customers. Utilizing targeted ads to sell products and building a presence on these platforms is a huge way consumers are engaging with retailers.
  5. Turn the store into a digital playground. Many in-store retailers are leveraging the powers of tablets and other devices to enhance the shopping experience of their customers. From what seeing clothes in a different color and style on you to receiving help at the touch of a button, this is modern in-store shopping.

As a consumer, I highly prefer online shopping over going into a crowded store to sift through rummages of items to find the precise thing I went in there for. Just the other day, I was surfing Verizon Wireless’ website for a new phone and a chat bubble prompted me with a greeting and assistance. I got the help, answers and suggestions I was looking for without ever leaving my couch or having to wait in a line.

Although, I do prefer the casual, time-killing peruse of a store when I’m not in search of a specific item. The above recommendations may not work for all businesses, such as thrift shops, small record stores or the like, but some level of technological boost can’t hurt them.

As consumers, what type of technology would you like to see in a business? Maybe you can implement some of your own changes to boost business this y