Four Technology Trends for Retailers to Track in 2017

March 15, 2017

Last week, we saw the future of commerce on display in Toronto at Dx3 Canada, a conference that highlights innovations in technology, digital marketing and – the one you care about the most – retail. 

After two days, one thing was clear: any retailer who wants to compete and win must use technology to adapt to shoppers. Here are four key takeaways from the event.

1. Know your customers. They expect it.

Shoppers want personalized and customized experiences. Neglect this development and you miss an opportunity to forge a lasting connection. When shoppers are using smartphones to search for the best prices, providing a remarkable experience and standout customer service matters.

Panelists at the “Creating a Seamless Shopping Experience with Tech” session share some great examples of how retailers can use personalization. The speakers included Shopify’s Satish Kanwar, VP Technology and Product Management; Interac’s Debbie Gamble, VP Product and Platform Development; and Rob Cameron, Chief Product & Marketing Officer at Moneris.

Rob told a story about a juice shop that he and his wife visit, where the owner had set up customer profiles on their iPad point-of-sale device. One day Rob went to pick up his wife’s favourite juice, but couldn’t remember her order. He asked the staff to suggest something his wife would like. They found her profile and Rob arrived home with his wife’s preferred drink, Deep Roots. Everybody wins. The store didn’t lose a sale because Rob couldn’t decide. And Rob didn’t have to make another trip to the store.


2. No cash? No problem

 Canadians use less cash than ever and new payment options like Apple Pay and other digital wallets have made digital payments secure and convenient. Need an example?

The Toronto Parking Authority has a mobile payment app that eliminates the need for drivers to turn their pockets inside out to find cash for parking meters. And if you need to add time, you don’t have to dash to the meter in the middle of a monsoon. Just open the app and tap to extend your time. There’s no change to manage, paper receipts or physical card required.

Apple Pay is just as easy. Watch the video below to see Shopify demonstrate how easy it is for shoppers to check out using a mobile wallet.


3. Robo-barista shows retailers why automation is the new black 

Dx3 attendees saw retail innovation –  and automation – in the flesh at the teaBOT booth. teaBOT is a kiosk that lets customers order, pay and receive a customized blend of loose leaf tea. The tea is then prepared and served by, get this, a robot.


While this type of innovation may not be ideal for every type of small retailer, it may spark ideas in budding entrepreneurs or retailers looking for new ways to expand their business.


4. Partnerships make retailers stronger 

Collaboration is a buzzword, but it’s also a tactic for retailers looking to thrive in a competitive environment. The Agile Retail Lab at Dx3 featured a partnership between BRIKA, Moneris, Chatter Research and DIVE Networks.

BRIKA sells artisanal art and prints, jewelry, home décor goods and more. It’s a growing online retailer that has three stores in the Greater Toronto Area. Their pop-up store showed how easy it is for a retailer to sell their well-crafted goods, accepting debit and credit card payments securely and tracking inventory using an iPad point-of-sale solution.


To demonstrate how a retailer could improve the customer feedback cycle, BRIKA partnered with Chatter Research and DIVE Networks.


A sticker on BRIKA’s shopping bags encouraged customers to complete a survey via text message. Instead of an email survey, an automated chatbot asked shoppers questions and collected the results. The responses were then made available to the retailer, allowing store managers or sales staff to adapt and react to emerging trends. That’s an important feature in a world where one bad experience can lead to negative reviews and lost business.   

Perhaps the most exciting part of Dx3 was seeing the potential for retailers eager to transform their business using technology. Retail is already facing disruption and the businesses that innovate are the one that will thrive.

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