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Tech Inventions that Revolutionized the Retail Industry

The global retail industry is worth almost $24 trillion in sales back in 2018, with the US leading the world in sales with more than $5 trillion.

This is hardly surprising given that Walmart, which happens to be the world’s top retailer with its $514.4 billion revenue, is based in the US. Amazon, also a US-based retail giant, has the enviable title of the world’s most valuable retail brand, with a reach that spans practically the entire planet.

The ongoing COVID-19 crisis has negatively affected the global retail industry and made experts predict a future that rests heavily on how the vaccines will be rolled out and how the pandemic will further take its course.

However, despite such grim thoughts, it’s uplifting to think that the industry has faced equally challenging situations in the past and has managed to push through with the help of technology.

And technology-wise, here are four tech innovations that have shaped (and some continues to do so) the global retail industry as we know it today:

Barcode scanners

Convenience stores, supermarkets, malls, and similar retail facilities all need a reliable tech tool that allows cashiers to process item after item that customers are checking out. In the old days, only the analogue cash register ensures that each item bought is properly ‘logged’ into the store’s ‘computer,’ which is the cash register itself.

In today’s world, using an equivalent of a cash register just won’t cut it, with carts full to the brim and long queues of irate and impatient customers all waiting to pay for their items and leave for home or wherever they’re headed to.

Barcode scanners are, therefore, among the first tech items that revolutionized the way the retail industry processes purchased items in a timely and efficient way. For many decades, barcode scanners have made life easier for cashiers, inventory managers, and store owners to process sales of items and keep track of them.

Judging from the continued operation of specialists in Zebra repair services for barcode scanners and other brands of barcode scanners, it’s clear that such tech tools will still see further use even as newer technologies are being developed to serve similar purposes.

vending machine

Vending machines

What do you need when you’re a retailer, and you want to sell whatever items you have without having to hire someone to physically operate the counter? The answer: you get yourself a vending machine.

Be it diet soda, beer in a can, some potato chips, wet wipes, chocolate bars, newspapers, or bus tickets, you can expect to find vending machines that ‘sell’ them to eager customers. You can see them in convenience stores, airport lobbies, hospitals, offices, cafeterias, side walks, subway stations, and many other locations.

If you have been to Japan, you probably know how big the vending machine craze is like there. Like, some 5 million vending are scattered all over the country, making Japan the country with the densest concentration of vending machines anywhere on the planet relative to land area (the US has 7 million of these machines, but it’s relatively bigger than Japan).

You can get all sorts of snacks, beverages, tobacco and alcohol products, fruits, vegetables, eggs, umbrellas, and even books. It’s safe to say that Japan is a vending machine junkie’s heaven on earth.

Digital payments or e-wallets

Some people say that time will come when physical money would be a thing of the past. And if the increased popularity of cashless payment solutions or e-wallets is an indication, such a bold prediction may well be within the horizon.

From Apple Pay and Samsung Pay to PayPal and Payoneer, one now has plenty of options to pay for their online purchases, as well as the items they buy or services they avail. As retail businesses are now rapidly incorporating these convenient and COVID-safe payment solutions, we may be heading towards a future where those crisp Benjamins have been replaced with digital likeness.

Mobile apps

These days, buyers can order all kinds of products they need or want using their smartphones or tablets. With the advancements in mobile technology, numerous mobile apps cater to the retail industry.

With just a few taps and swipes on their mobile devices, customers of retail businesses can browse for products, add them to the cart, hit check out, set delivery details, and pay for them all in one go.

It’s safe to say that retail businesses that want to appeal to today’s clientele should have a dedicated app or have their online stores included in digital portals featured in most mobile apps developed specifically for the retail industry.

Truly, digital technology has done wonders for the retail realm. One can only think of other equally exciting developments soon that will further shape the retail industry as we know it.

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