Consumers will be even more demanding this year, so retailers and brands need to keep pace while remaining differentiated

To help retailers tackle business challenges in 2023, Aruba has made some trend observations and predictions involving digital transformation over the next 12 to 18 months.  

Amid an uncertain macroeconomic environment and growing consumer desire for ever more personalized services, retailers will be competing harder for wallet share this year. They will have to deliver flexible, tailored shopping experiences to attract new footfall and keep both online and in-store customers loyal.

Ultimately, this will put a heavy burden on IT teams to support the pace of technological change and deliver the seamless running of operations. Here are the trends and predictions proffered by the firm.

    1. More emphasis retail immersion
      As retailers fight to re-engage customers with physical spaces, they will look to invest more in technologies to deepen and differentiate the immersive experience of in-store shopping trips. Expect more instances of augmented reality and virtual reality themes being embedded in the user experience that allow shoppers to get a better feel for how products will fit into their lives.
    2. Delivery options will be diversified
      Consumer expectations for on-demand, time-shifted, and location-flexible delivery options are rapidly growing. Retailers and grocers will take an increasingly hybrid approach to fulfilling orders, offering up traditional delivery solutions alongside dark stores, micro-fulfilment centers, grab and go “pop-ups”, and on-demand couriers. The use of enhanced geolocation services and even mobile stores will give retailers the chance to bring the point of sale directly to the consumers’ homes or places of work.
    3. Smarter in-store retail
      With e-commerce offering ever more sophisticated competition, in-store spaces will be redefined to not only focus on enhancing customer satisfaction and personalization, but also making business operations more efficient. Physical stores will become more connected, with innovations such as smart fitting rooms and cashier-less exits, and IoT sensor capabilities to support operational savings and sustainability goals.
    4. More advanced automation and retail logistics
      In today’s age of instant gratification, consumers expect retailers to deliver what they want, when they want it — with no tolerance of any deviation from what has been promised. Expect a surge in automation and predictive technologies to help vendors track inventory and meet consumer demands in real-time and with more accuracy. Smart robots deployed in warehouses and distribution centers will also make operations more intelligent, shifting made-to-order retailing into the mainstream, and reducing waste and excess inventory.
    5. When physical retail goes hybrid
      Livestreaming from physical stores will become more commonplace as brands look to create the next stage of showrooming, giving customers a glimpse behind the scenes. Delivering such experiences will help feed consumer appetite for a local touch and allow retailers to make the most of their remaining physical spaces.

Additionally, the firm reiterated that, while vital, new and modern technology will be dependent on having the right infrastructure to support it. This means continually monitoring alternative consumption models to ensure that their networks are agile and secure enough to adapt as demands change, as well as digitalized enough to provide easy access to real-time business insights.