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With every passing day, the role of internet-enabled technology in retail increases — as brick and mortar stores adopt more and more elements of the online experience. 

While many of these digital trends serve a functional purpose (inventory management and shopper mapping), there’s also an increasing use of technology to build stronger emotional connections between brands, products, and customers.

Here’s a look at how a few of these trends can have a positive impact on your own brick and mortar retail space.

Tried and True Tech: Smart Shelves & Personalized Alerts

Ever since Kroger (the nation’s leading supermarket chain) began testing smart shelf technology in 2016, there’s been a sharp rise in the number of retailers using electronic shelf labels and other internet-enabled technologies. Leveraging everything from proximity sensors and 3D cameras, to RFID readers and weight sensors, savvy retailers are monitoring inventory and gathering valuable information — all while enabling interactions between real-world shoppers and the shelves they’re standing in front of. 

At the same time, the ubiquity of smartphones has created an ideal environment for retailers to create hyper-personalized and targeted messaging aimed at catching a customer’s attention — all via geofencing. While the technology has been around for decades, its use has exploded in recent years. Examples are everywhere, including Starbucks IoT beacons — where people passing by a Starbucks would get notifications about new coffee brews or promotions — and manufacturer Avery Dennison, who personalized shopping experiences by turning clothes labels into RFID tags that became VIP passes shoppers could use to access bonuses elsewhere around town.

The Next Wave: Video Analytics

Unlike technologies like geofencing that require multiple devices, video analytics rely on the fairly straightforward process of simply installing cameras to harness a great deal of data — then utilizing the right backend processes to properly identify and categorize it.

From the standpoint of monitoring everything from inventory to traffic patterns to theft — and even customer engagement — video analytics provide a look to the future of retail. 

Video analytics help retailers enhance the customer’s experience in a variety of ways: reducing service time, optimizing aisle flow, avoiding overcrowding, and more. Evaluate and optimize a more satisfying customer experience via larger movements:

  • Human traffic patterns and heat maps
  • Crowd management
  • Product placement
  • The ratio of staff to customers

Drill down further to examine facial expressions and eye movement through the use of close-range cameras to perform “emotion analysis” — helping determine, for instance, a customer’s satisfaction level.

Granted, the prospect can sound a little like “Big Brother,” and it will be some time before the technology is universally accepted. In the meantime, the challenge will be to find the right balance between compiling data and recognizing customer privacy.

Streaming music services

Creating an emotional connection with customers is more important than ever. And music is an ideal way to achieve this. Much as consumers are conditioned to the use of streaming services in their personal lives, businesses are recognizing the advantages of leveraging internet-enabled technology to bring a unique, custom-tailored musical experience in-store. 

“As a retail business, if you’re upgrading your technology, you need to incorporate music as part of that upgrade,” says  John Bradley, Chief Music Officer and Co-Founder of Custom Channels. “The streaming of a fully licensed, carefully curated musical playlist not only helps define your brand to your customers, it creates a bond that deepens their experience in your store.”

As a way to leverage the power and versatility of seamless internet connectivity in a business, a customized streaming playlist is an easy and obvious choice to improve engagement with your customers. At Custom Channels, we work with you and your team to create playlists that connect – fully licensed, high-quality music selections that are hand-picked by our team of passionate music lovers to not only embody your brand, but also create a bond with shoppers.

Want to learn more about tech and music? Read our Audio Setup Tips!

Want to get started with internet-enabled music streaming in your business? Start a free trial.