Retailers are always looking for new and innovative ways to progress the buyer’s experience to boost sales. Exploring the evolvements in retail technology helps in advancing the customer’s knowledge, which ultimately increases sales. This has helped in shaping the retail industry quite a lot.
Back in the 1800s, several department stores were launched, which marked the emergence of the modern retail industry. From the small-town shops of expert -only stores, the department store provided an array of options for the customers giving a much extensive choice.
With time, the department stores became popular as it marshaled in the progression of retail technologies. Moreover, cash registers also appeared for the first time during that time, though they weren’t that popular it did stop the extra effort employees had to put.
Furthermore, purchasing items ‘on-credit’ is also part of the retail industry; however, the credit cards didn’t appear until the 1940s. By this time, the majority of the banks started launching plastic credit cards. This helped in the evolution of retail stores quite a lot.
Here is an elaborative overview of the distinctive eras of retail. You’ll find out how it has evolved so rapidly over the past few decades.
From the 1900s to 1940s:
In the early 20th century, customers usually visited the local corner stores since there were no department stores at that time. The local stores were mainly family-owned small stores that were particularly located in a single physical position. Later, the revolution in technology occurred when the self-service model was introduced where the customers could touch and examine the items themselves without requiring any help from the associates at the store. This significant change eventually involved the customers more occupied in the process.
In the early 1900s, the UK has the most ground-breaking department stores which had elevators and public washrooms there too. This attracted the customers even more and enabled the buyers to spend more time shopping.
From the 1940s to 1970s:
During this time the majority of the people owned cars and began moving to the outskirts of towns. This is one reason why enclosed shopping places began to appear. The first entirely-enclosed, climate-regulated mall was introduced in the United States back in 1956. The advancement in technology was seen in such malls since they had air-conditioners, escalators, and automatic doors which attracted the customers to a great extent.
From the 1970s to 1990s:
The primary category killers that are still seen today started to squash out several less critical businesses during the 1980s. This is one apparent reason why retailers began filing for bankruptcy. This happened because they were quite slow to amend the buyers’ progressing needs.
From the 1990s to today:
This was the time when the retail industry revolutionized entirely due to the establishment of e-commerce. This also removed the international borders that ultimately broached the bar of the purchasers' experience. The latest technology allowed ‘regular’ individuals to sell their products online on websites like Etsy, Amazon, and eBay. In fact, by 1999, even a small retail shop should already be on Amazon. By 2019, if the store doesn't have an independent e-commerce website searchable on the internet, its end was going to be near. Then came Alibaba, where Chinese manufacturers can distribute their goods all over the world.
With the use of social media, the retail industry ads are more aggressive and targeted than ever. The use of artificial intelligence is also used in retail apps such as AliExpress for users to scan merchandise they like, which alert manufacturers and help them find the items that match the users' taste.
With the evolution of technology, players in the retail industry need to evolve with it. Similar to every industry, the ones unable to adapt will not be able to survive and thrive.
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