Tech trends in retail 2022

The last two years have become an apocalypse for retailers. The number of bankruptcies in the industry has increased immensely through the 2020 and 2021 pandemic years. Retail businesses which survived and are still on the market have had to adapt to the new reality and develop digital tools like online shopping and in-store pickup services. It became apparent that even if the world is slowly coming back to normal, customers are already accustomed to these relatively new services. However, they seek a unique in-store experience as well. 

The number of customers who prefer to purchase online was growing intensely in 2020. Nevertheless, in 2021, e-commerce returned to a relatively normal level, though still, the numbers are higher than before the pandemic (almost 21% market share). At the end of the year, analysts have stated that the store closure trend has slowed down, and more and more retailers are seeking to reopen brick-and-mortar stores.

According to the US National Retail Federation, around 80% of purchases are still made in-store.

This leads us to the fact that in 2022, retailers will more widely offer a hybrid model of shopping experience to their customers: blending their in-store, online, and on-the-go environments and eventually offering them unprecedented customer experience (CX). 

On top of that, it's essential to understand that if retailers are eager to provide their customers with the best customer experience on all levels, they should start by automating retail back-office processes. These processes include organizational and per-store inventory management, category and space management based on systems that enable real-time interaction, performance and in-store analytics, KPI monitoring, staff management, and others.

What tech trends in retail are expected to be on the rise in 2022?

Headless commerce 
A seamless shopping experience is the new norm for all retailers. To make it happen, they need to implement a unified commerce approach along with unifying the structure of their tools and software architecture. 

The term “headless commerce” first appeared in a Forrester Research paper in 2013. In this report, the analysts recommended retailers to "loosely" couple the back and front ends of e-commerce stores.

The main idea behind headless commerce is to improve system functionality and flexibility and enable retailers to sell goods easily via both digital and physical channels. As a result, customers get the best possible in-store and digital experience, the number of human errors decreases, and retailers gain insights about their customers' behavior patterns from a single source of data.

Artificial intelligence and machine learning 

The supply chain is a heavily data-reliant industry. However, it's hard for a human being to sift through piles of raw data and gain any insight from it. That's why artificial intelligence and machine learning are in high demand from retailers. 

Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) technologies are  increasingly giving retail businesses the ability to make sophisticated analyses of in-store generated data and then provide automatic decisions about product assortment, SKU forecast per store or warehouse, and inventory replenishment, and run automated retail audits.

The benefits of AI and ML in supply chain management in retail include demand forecast, delivery prediction, manual work reduction, resource planning, fraud prevention, optimized procurement management, cost optimization, end-to-end visibility, and much more. 

The pandemic has also highlighted one more issue that retailers were aware of long before. Staff shortage is becoming a challenge for them year over year. Many large and small retailers expect the situation to stay similar in 2022. AI and ML can help a lot, because by automating such tasks as tracking orders, managing customer loyalty programs, and communicating with customers, retail businesses can solve the labor shortage.

Image recognition technology

The traditional retail audit process is outdated. It takes lots of time and provides a very poor level of accuracy. Image recognition is one of the technologies that can help with audit automation. In 2022, it will become a critical growth driver in the consumer packaged goods (CPG) market. It will also help to increase sales team productivity, improve shelf condition insights, and provide guidance to drive sales.

At Inspector Cloud, we believe that image recognition technology powered by analytics can be of great value for CPG companies. And this is why we work hard to bring more and more options to Inspector Cloud SaaS platform for retailers. We can see that 2021 was the year when image recognition technology was adopted by a wide range of CPG companies, including PepsiCo and Henkel, who successfully use our AI technologies.