All signs are pointing up. After facing the worst year in modern history, retailers are poised for a return to in-person shopping. 2021 has given the industry hope. At the current pace, most U.S. states will have at least 25% of their population fully vaccinated by the end of April 2021. With the approval of a third vaccine, the White House has indicated that there will be enough doses for every adult by the end of May 2021. With the roll out of multiple vaccines and continued safety protocols, customers are beginning to feel more comfortable about returning to in-store vs. online experiences.
The grand reopening
As of March 13, 2021, about one year since closing all stores, Apple will have all U.S. retail locations open. In early March,Texas became the largest state to remove all restrictions on businesses by allowing 100% capacity. While safety protocols will still be in place, both businesses and governments are working to ensure a safe return to physical shopping and dining experiences. Businesses must ensure they have the right technology in place to safely increase capacity as consumer demand continues to build with the vaccine roll out.
Safety and security will remain the top priorities for retailers until the aftershocks of 2020 wear off. Smart cameras have evolved to not only provide a physical safety net of surveillance, but also empower retailers by providing additional intelligence and analytics. These devices are being used to ensure social distancing, monitor capacity limits, and identify PPE (personal protective equipment) usage. By using smart, Wi-Fi-connected devices, retailers are able to monitor multiple stores from a centralized location to help keep staff safe.
Safety today goes beyond the walls of the physical store and into the cloud. Customer data, employee connectivity, and corporate networks all need to be protected when connecting to the internet inside the retail space. As organizations begin their SASE journey (secure access service edge), they’re building a consolidated architectural solution that delivers an effective, homogenous security experience to users—from anywhere and on any device. Retailers need to make a conscious effort to ensure their customers’ safety, both cyber and physical, is cared for in-store.
On the experience side, stores are transforming their spaces to highlight curated collections of core goods. With the inclusion of AR and VR technology, customers will be able to peruse the nearly infinite combinations of colors and styles by combining a physical experience with the options offered by online shopping.
Connected devices are booming into retail locations, from smart shelf systems to IoT devices leveraging AR & VR. On top of that, more than 90% of consumers use mobile devices while they shop. This influx of 5G-enabled devices can be a drain on the network and instill a bad shopping experience. Retailers have found the remedy in Wi-Fi 6. Benefits include better high-density performance, consistent performance and faster speeds across a large number of diverse devices, and energy efficiency that improves battery life.
Augment existing infrastructure with technology partners
To take technology investments to the next level, retailers can leverage technology partners who specialize in unique solutions. Retailers can expand the utility of their networks by augmenting their existing infrastructures with partner solutions tailored to their needs. Safe occupancy, contactless engagement, contact tracing, footfall analytics, and video analytics are just some of the robust solutions available. Discover the wide variety of solutions and technology partnerships available on our website.
Maximizing the return of in-store shopping will require the proper technology. Dive deeper into the latest technology trends to create a safe and modern in-store shopping experience. Read the list of Top Tech Trends for Retail in 2021 and Beyond in our latest e-book.