10 Hot Retail Technology Trends For 2016

by Louisa Bainbridge
on Jan 23, 2017

A run down of the 10 most must-watch retail technology trends for retailers, whether you’re brick and mortar, online only, big or small.


Indoor navigation, beacons and RFID technology continue to be an interest to industry innovators. The ability to connect with customers on mobile as they browse the store is the retail trend to watch. Smart fitting rooms, indoor store routing and push notifications are some of the features to watch in the upcoming months.

As well as the expansion of these existing technologies, there are new ones to watch, such as the TravelTime. This API enables customers to search for their nearest store using travel time rather than miles radius distance.




 Through the use of mobile devices, numerous possibilities are being opened up in the retail sector. Virtual showrooms are beginning to pop up with furniture retails and those selling services are able to let customers try before they buy with immersive experiences.

Whilst mobile and tablet devices dominate this area at the moment, the upcoming release of the consumer version of the Oculus Rift could transform the playing field for retailers in the upcoming months.

Cimagine is an excellent example of how retailers can use SaaS to drive customers through the decision-making funnel. The software enables consumers to use mobile and wearable devices to visualise products in their own home. Take a look at the video here.



Creating an effective omnichannel strategy is not a simple task, but there are some players in the industry that are excelling at making this transition as smooth as possible. The key for 2016 will be mobile commerce – with 49% of Cyber Monday coming from tablets and smart phones. Other must-watch retail trends include social selling and new in-store payment options using mobile.

Companies such as Shopify are helping businesses expand their channel options, offering e-commerce, POS and mobile systems.


Apps dominate this market, with retailers offering in-house apps to maximise consumer engagement and sales. Applications that deliver personalised suggestions work really well, such as recommending complimentary products.

Apps also drive purchase decisions when delivering in-store deals and coupons to customers. Target’s Cartwheel app is an excellent example of how to incentivise customers by providing a directory of available offers on mobile that can be scanned off the user’s mobile when they reach the checkout. See how it works.


 RFID tags present huge benefits to retails, promising increased accuracy for inventory tracking as well as 2-7% sales increases. The ability to track how quickly a store’s shelve empties, enable automatic stock re-ordering and delivering large amounts of valuable data is exactly why many in the industry believe it’s the retail tech that will have the most impact to their business.

Combining smart technologies with mobile apps, retailers can begin to bring consumers one step closer to achieving a smart home. One example of this technology is Quirky’s egg minder, which monitors how many eggs are left in the user’s box and sends mobile notifications. It’s still early days for this type of tech and requires a lot of customer investment but still one to watch.


 Many retailers are looking to expand the customer’s opportunities to purchase products, regardless of their location within the store, which is where mobile POS comes in. The technology can help with queue management and reduce barriers for purchasing for shoppers. These devices can also be used to upsell due to the customer’s basket. The additional data collected from these devices has further advantages by enabling retailers to optimise floor plans.

For smaller retailers, the launch of technologies such as iZettle has delivered a quick and easy way to start accepting card payments with minimal spend on hardware.


Wearable technology could change the way consumers interact with, purchase and engage with brands. In-store payments via smart watches eliminates the need for cash and speeds up the process. The ability of these devices to communicate with their surroundings also opens the possibility of delivering 100% personalised adverts and dynamic messages.

The Apple watch continues to be the best-selling wearable, there are other technologies that promise to develop contactless payment options such as Pebble and more.


 Personalisation isn’t a new retail technology, but there are new techniques being used monthly that give retailers more opportunities for tailoring communications to customers. Considering that Amazon’s tailored product recommendations are anticipated to boost sales up to 30% it’s no wonder retailers.

Landing page personalisation is becoming more and more prevalent within the industry, with retailer Very.co.uk able to create 1.2 million different versions of their home page.


The digital coupon is beginning to transform the landscape for consumer loyalty schemes, as customers begin to expect more customised rewards. Apps and iBeacons can push tailored messages and offers to customers in-store.

One clear sign of the change in the times is when companies such as Perks Loyalty, a company specialising in creating bespoke incentive schemes on mobile, receives a six-figure sum investment.


In 2016 cashless payments move into the mainstream. As expected, the trend is driven by tech-savvy millennials, with a study suggesting that 44% of this market would prefer to pay via mobile, particularly for small purchases.  Customers keen to use mobile payments are not only seeking convenience, but also want to see coupons and discounts visible in their mobile wallets. In a recent survey, Forrester reported that 44% want to see these types of offers going mobile.



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