One of the greatest challenges for small retailers is keeping up with the fast pace of technological change.

While some technology (such as the introduction of smartphones and Facebook) changes the landscape of retail business, other technology shows great promise but quickly fades away. Remember Google Glass? As a small retailer with limited time and resources, it’s important that you understand the difference between the two — the technology that is here for the long haul and that which will quickly fade

In this video, Ramon Ray covers the top 4 retail technology trends small businesses should consider in 2017.

 

(00:43) Embracing Mobile Technology in Retail

The introduction of mobile technology is innovating the retail experience. Both in-store and online, mobile is an essential aspect of your customer’s buying journey.

In fact, 68 percent of U.S. adults own a smartphone. More and more customers are using their mobile devices to locate nearby stores, compare prices, and research product information.

With the growing use of smartphones, an increase in the use of mobile payments has also occurred. Over 114 million adults in the U.S. report having made at least one mobile payment, and this number will only continue to grow. This trend is a clear indicator that in the coming year, smart retailers will hone in on mobile phones, tablets, and wearable devices, all with the intent to increase brand loyalty and improve customer experience.

SEE ALSO: Cashing in on the Future of Mobile Payments

Smartphone users want convenience and choice, and the growing mobile market provides them with an easy way to make online and offline transactions.

This is especially true amongst younger consumers who have fewer apprehensions about adopting new retail technologies.

Mobile commerce is now mainstream. Retailers hesitant to embrace this technology risk leaving money on the table.

In 2017, we will see retailers — both large and small — enhancing the mobile shopping experience for their customers, while adopting tablet point of sale technology and emerging payments like Apple Pay.

(02:22) Video Trends Disrupting Retail in 2017

Video marketing is a fast-moving industry.

In 2016, live video and augmented reality introduced new opportunities for retailers to connect with customers.

One example of this is shift in technology is Facebook Live. This recently-launched broadcasting feature allows users to interact with viewers in real time, enabling stronger more personal relationships with their audiences.

According to preliminary findings, Facebook users watch Live video three times longer than previously broadcasted videos. Initial data has also shown that people comment ten times more on Facebook Live videos than on traditional videos.

Facebook has also publicly stated that Live videos are likely to appear higher in News Feeds. This presents a unique opportunity for small retailers to combat some of the negative changes in organic reach that have impacted Facebook business pages in recent years.

SEE ALSO: 6 Things to Know about Your Small Business and Facebook

The creative uses for Facebook Live are endless. Own a boutique? Why not debut new styles and products via Facebook Live?

Better yet, ask customers for their input and recommendations on what merchandise to add to next season’s lineup. Video is extremely popular and customers will love having an insider’s look into your business.

As live video formats evolve, more retailers will incorporate Facebook Live and Snapchat, into their marketing mix to improve the customer experience and break through the online clutter in 2017.

Virtual and augmented reality will also have their place in 2017 and will take on new and significant roles for small business marketers.

In 2016, we got a glimpse of the impact of augmented reality in retail when local businesses capitalized on the “Pokemon Go” craze.

Augmented reality offers retailers an innovative way to attract and better connect with customers. Leading retailers are already exploring creative ways to combine this technology with customer insights, in an effort to increase sales.

Although it’s not likely that we will see the complete mainstream adoption of virtual and augmented reality in 2017. With the adoption of smartphones increasing among consumers, it’s likely that even small retailers will be exposed to additional virtual and augmented reality technologies in the coming year.

(04:37) The Evolution of Social Commerce

“Buy” buttons became a standard feature on popular social media networks like Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest in 2016. This trend is far from a fad.

The ability to purchase items directly on social media is a technological shift that will continue to intensify in retail during the coming year.

Recently, Facebook, with over 1.55 billion monthly active users, announced that the “buy” button is coming to Facebook Messenger. This feature will allow retailers and other businesses to enable and accept payments straight from their messaging thread. This capability is a natural progression of social media that was long overdue.

Since people use social media to discover products, interact with brands, and give or share recommendations, it makes sense that large and small brands have the ability to offer customers the option to purchase products directly on the channels where they spend most of their time.

For the 46 percent of businesses that are still unsure of how social media contributes to revenue, social commerce offers a solution. Naturally, this will increase the adoption of social media amongst retailers who have thus far seen it as a nice-to-have feature.

(05:54) Technology’s Impact on Retail Delivery Models

A hi-tech “toy” for some, drones are catching the eyes of many businesses for their potential commercial use.

Drones —essentially flying robots that can be controlled by a person on the ground — has already been embraced by Amazon. The online retail giant is currently ramping up drone delivery service in the U.K.That is, while they wait out the Federal Aviation Administration regulations that officially grounded 2016 drone delivery in the U.S.

While we may not see many small retailers adopting the use of drone delivery in the coming year, emerging delivery models will force small retailers to at least consider same-day delivery options for their business.

This can sound scary for local retailers, especially those who have yet to consider the integration of e-commerce services for their business. But as third-party delivery services like UberRUSH and Deliv pop up to alleviate stress for local retailers, we will see same-day delivery become the new norm for local business owners — large and small.

Ramon Ray

About the Author

Ramon is an entrepreneur, best-selling author, journalist, speaker, event host and Publisher of Smart Hustle Magazine. A former technology consultant, he frequently blogs about tech on SmallBizTechnology.com. Ramon is passionate about helping entrepreneurs grow and everything he does is aimed at helping independent business owners work smarter.