Technology and Retail in Canada

The advent of UPCs (bar codes), in-store information tools (such as scanners and information kiosks), self-service technologies, mobile marketing, and online shopping has completely revolutionised the world of retail. One cannot help but wonder: what’s next?  Nowadays, consumers can access specific information about the products or services they are interested in and check their availability without the help of a clerk or salesperson. They pay for their items on their own. Better yet, they don’t even have to leave their house to make a purchase.  

Simplicity and the “wow factor” associated with technology have a lot to do with consumers’ openness to trying new technologies. Interestingly, a recent survey conducted in Canada demonstrated that most consumers are willing to use in-store self-service technology, for example. Companies that use technological kiosks for gift registries, music sampling stations, and check-ins at airports and theatres are also becoming more and more common. Smart phones and tablet computers like the iPad will also be the star products of the season this year, which will lead to added traffic on the mobile web, a technological shift that is full of opportunities for retailers.

While consumers are slowly adjusting to new trends and gadgets, retailers are continuing to look for innovative ways to stand out, better communicate with their clientele, and sell their products. That said, improving the shopping experience in retail stores is no easy task, especially in the heavily saturated information age in which we find ourselves.

A number of Canadian companies have begun integrating Quick Response (QR) codes to their marketing efforts. By simply scanning a code with their smart phones, consumers can now have access to an array of information directly on their mobile devices, such as product information, videos, adverts, a particular website, or a telephone number.

Loyalty cards are also a result of these new and improved technologies. According to an Industry Canada report, the number of Canadians who belong to a frequent user/loyalty program is continually growing, and so is the amount of information companies are gathering about those same clients.

When it comes to technology, opportunities for retailers are limitless, but creativity is key to achieving results and getting noticed!  That said, the more information retailers gather on their clients, the better they are able to address their specific needs…and the easier it becomes to add a bit of “wow” to their current shopping experience. 

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