Retail innovation over the past 100 years
Introduction
Innovation in the field of retail has gradually evolved ever since trade become part and parcel of man. These innovations are being spearheaded by several factors that came hand in hand with trade. Therefore retail today is considered a hotbed of innovations which go along with emerging technologies that are able to transform how daily business is carried out. These factors that directs to the innovation in retail are delivery of products from the retailers to the customers, stores enhancement for the customers and the retailers, methods of payments for goods with ease, and the products personalization.
With these factors in mind and the emerging technologies, the retailers were forced to look for alternatives on how best they can achieve the resolves the factors that affected not only the customers but also them. Therefore they decided to involve technology on their daily practice of retail. This enabled them to come up with innovation in retail that enhances their daily duties. Some of the innovations that came up over the past 100 years includes barcodes- which was not accepted at the time of its innovation, mobile commerce, big data, online marketplace, social media, the internet of things, beacons, self-service checkout, drones and the 3D printing.
Barcodes on products and a scanner
Barcodes as a retail innovation come up over sixty years ago, and its first experiment conducted in 1948. A barcode is a series of black and white strips coordinated to relay information and specify a product based on the nature and thickness of the strips. The black and white strips are scanned by an electronic machine called a scanner and the information in projected to the computer connected to the scanner which one can easily interpret. The incorporation of these barcodes on products and a scanner to read the codes in retailing was aimed at overhauling how retailers manage their stock and serve their customers. Despite its good motives in retail, some of the retailers rejected the innovation thinking that it would be faulty compared to when the workers key in the prices manually to the computers for accounting purposes. Its rejection in the field made it take long to convince the retailers to give it a trial, hence the barcodes took more than twenty years to be introduced to the retailing environment. Its first trial in 1974 proved its ease of work and speed, therefore it saved the workers time of keying prices to the computers.
This retail innovation has made it possible for the retail workers to serve many customers as fast as possible, and on the other hand the customers do not need to wait for long before they are served hence the innovation has made it possible to save each party’s time. The use of barcodes has also reduces the possibilities of mismatch of product prices hence reducing the level of liability that retailer would incur due to mismatch. Although the innovation is quite effective, it has some loopholes, at times the scanner could fail to read the codes making the keeper to read and write it up.
Most of the retailers in today’s world use the barcode and scanner innovation not only to keep records of the products but also a source of security to the products in that when one try to smuggle out the product, the barcodes will be read by the system hence alarming the security guards.
Online marketplaces
Online marketplaces innovation in retailing came with the invention of web which was about 1979. The invention of the web made it possible for the retailers to come up with an online market after the introduction of money as a source of exchange of goods. The online marketplaces were solutions to issues of lack of marketplaces that was evident as from ancient Egypt error. Online marketplace is a website created to facilitate the buying and selling of products. The platform took to its roots in about twenty five years down the line when the web got to be part of man’s life.
The adoption of the web as a source of shopping is the backbone of the development of all the online marketplaces which enables retailers to internationally sell their goods, source for new market audience, and also creates a fair competition for all retailers in the market. With the online marketplaces, the retail shops can advertise, interact and even look for marketing for their products thus enhancing continuous sales of the retailers’ products.
This innovation is of much importance not only to the customers but also to the retailers since it encourages fair competition by level the market platform not only for the larger retailers but also to the smaller ones. The innovation makes a level ground possible by offering access to a large international customer base and also gives the provision of the instruments they need for them to have an online selling.
Today, most of the retailers use the online marketplace not only to reach adverse customers but also use them as a platform to gain knowledge of the customers’ tastes and preferences. Therefore the online marketplaces play a crucial role in todays’ retail improvement and profit making.
Drone
The knowledge of drone technology was drawn from the American Military who used balloons to transport explosives to Venice. From the military technology, the business world came up with airplane like machines which they used to deliver ordered goods to the customers at the comfort of their customers. Drone is an aero plane like machine that is used mostly as surveillance camera in risky places where human beings cannot survive. This machine is controlled by a computerized dial pad which gives it direction with an internet connection as a medium of communication between the dial pad and the machine.
The innovation of drones to retail has made it possible to make faster and cheaper deliveries not only for lighter goods but also heavier goods as some drones are programmed to move on roads like vehicles. Also the innovation too has made to maximize profit shares by avoiding additional cost associated with employing drivers and messengers in the retail. Although it is expensive to purchase, but it effective and convenient in terms of its delivery since it is monitored by the controlled and also less prone to accidents hence the retailer would avoid the expenses associated with accidents.
This retail innovation is currently used by large retailers not only to deliver goods but also as a surveillance camera to monitor the movement of goods in and out of the stores. They are also used to keep file footage hence acting as source of security in the retail stores. Large retail stores like Amazon uses the drones to deliver goods overseas since it is fast hence the company attracts more customers because of its delivery speed.
3D printing
3D printing as a retail innovation was first introduced in 1984, but its uptake has been limited because it was associated with high price tags. 3D printing is a technology which produces printout in a three-dimensional definition. Therefore when used to print products, the images produced on the products look as if they are real and this attracted more customers in purchasing such products.
Since more customers were attracted to the 3D printings, most retailers started purchasing the machines and as more products of such kind flow the market. The reduction in the pricing of the 3D printing machines also has enabled the not only the high-profit making retailers but also the small retailers to produce custom products on-demand in-stores. Although this innovation is created to attract more customers to retailers, but it also discourages customers since the 3D printing technology is also able to produce counterfeit products which look more like the original products. This has made the customers to more than vigilant at times of going for the 3D printing products thus customers waste a lot of time try to check for the original product. This also has made even some customers to keep off such products therefore making the sales to be low.
With the challenge, the retailers are forced to work in coordination with the manufactures to curb the emergence of such kind of counterfeit products thus making the retailers to spend more in collaboration and also spend a lot of time with the manufactures.
Today most of the retailers use the innovation carefully hence avoiding the rise of such fake products to distort the well-established market of the original products.
The internet of things
The innovation of the internet of things which came up with the idea of new products being linked to the internet was first established in 1991. The internet of things was an innovation in the retail was all the new goods and products produced could be found online and the place where to find them indicated alongside the product. This technology made it easy for the retailers to gain access to objects that they did not have in their stores.
In the retailers’ perspective, the internet of things makes it possible to have a big opportunity to check, keep records and streamline their inventory management and also a source of supply to their stores without the involvement of a third party like the procurement office. The retail innovation also helps in enhancing the in-store customer experience since it does not limit access to only the retailers but it gives room for anyone to get information about a particular product and the place to find it. Since the internet of things has a catalog where all products that a retailer has can be seen and even ordered therefore helps in maximizing the value of retail space.
In today’s retail world most of the retail incorporate this innovation by having an online catalogue where customers can have access to its products hence making them to improve in product sales and access to larger customers base. This innovation makes the retailers to maximize profit since they will avoid additional cost that comes with advertisements.
Self-service checkout
This retail innovation was introduced in 1992 to reduce checkout time for the customers of various retail stores. Self-service checkout is an automated machine which provides a system to customers to process their own purchases from a retailer. The self-service checkout systems were introduced in retail as an alternative to the cashier-staffed checkout. The innovation works in that the customer is required to perform the cashier job by themselves by scanning and making payments of the item before they exit the retail shop. This innovation has made it possible for the retail owner to avoid the cost associated with employing cashiers.
The self-service checkout system has brought a lot of benefits to the retailers as it has made it possible for them to reduce labour costs associated with employing cashiers. Also it has made it possible for the retailers to increase the number of shelves in the retail shop since the machines are smaller. The machines are faster hence it saves both the retailer and the customer time of interaction. Although the introduction of this innovation into retail is very much important, it has also brought about some loopholes like it may encourage shoplifting, some customers may be disadvantaged in accessing the machines especially those with disabilities. It also reduces customer interaction which may affect the customer service.
In most of the retails of today, the self-service checkout is used and it benefits both the customer and the retailer in many ways. Therefore the retail innovation has played a crucial role in enhancing faster shopping in the retail shops.
Beacons
Retail innovation of beacons was introduced in 1994, and it was a means of wireless connecting mobile devices to accessories. In retail the beacons used Bluetooth technology to transmit and relay information-based messages to mobile devices hence it helped retailers to target shopper which it could inform them about the existing promotions and offers available at the retail shop. Not only did it give promotions, but also communicated location of the shop at which the promotion and offer is available.
Since this innovation was based mostly on the information relay, it was much helpful not only to the customers but also retailers. In the customers perspective, it could inform them of the available offers and promotions and also give them the directions to the retail shop at which that promotion is provided. On the other hand, it was helpful to the retailers as their retail shops could get more customers hence make huge profits out of it. Also it acted as mediums of advertisement for them. It was also important to the traders as it could relay several data and the upcoming insights of the shoppers’ behavior hence helping them to make decision on how to stock goods and also how to come up with the stores layout.
Today the innovation is not into use but its technology is integrated to come up with a more advanced technology that uses the same principle to relay information just like beacons did. The only difference it has is the current technology is an application pop up that shows the name, image and the uses of that product.
Big data
Although this technology might look like a current development, but it was innovated in 1995 into the retail field. Big data involves the analysis of huge data by the help of computing empowered advances. In retail it was innovated and used when Tesco a supermarket in the United Kingdom launched its first card-based loyalty program that was in a position to identify the most common consumer behavior patterns.
The retail innovation made it possible for the worldwide retailers to be able to acquire and analyze more retail data than they have ever had before. Therefore they could come up with retail decision based on the huge data analysis that was made possible. The insight data analysis got from the analysis are used to influence all the possible aspects of retail business thus helping in stocking decisions based on the marketing promotions and store layouts. Although the big data is important to most of the retail companies, the information from it at times can be misleading to the extent of causing commotion with the retail financial offices in case what they predicted has not come to pass.
Currently big data is used in most of the large retail shops like the supermarkets to analyze complex financial data that is associated with the accounting of resources in an out of the retail account. It is also used in analyzing the previous retail data to come up with a decision to predict the future of the company.

Mobile commerce
This retail innovation
Social media
Social media is most recent retail innovation. Social media involves the use of medium of communication like Facebook, twitter and PInternet to interchange information from the retailer to the customers. these social media, helps in transforming how the potential consumers communicates with the potential retailers who help them to make decisions on what to buy how important the product will be to them.
From the time social media was integrated into retailing, most retailers prefer to use the technology to influence the consumer buying behavior at their retail shops. This is possible by them marketing their products through the social media and also advertising some of the products that they possess in in the shops. They also use the innovation as a platform to exchange information and also educate the customers why their products should be purchased by them hence reducing stock holding in the stores. Consumers on the other recommend to other buys the products that they have tried and has worked out for them with ease therefore influencing other buys for the products they have used.
Although the social media innovation into retail has contributed to encouraging more customers, it can also be negatively used to shy away customers from your shop hence preventing the retailer from selling.
In todays’ retail world the innovation has made it possible for retailers and customers to share information based product. Since most of today’s generations are actively participating in social media, it offers the retailers an opportunity to source for opinions on new products and goods available in the market.

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