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Apr 9, 2020    Burn Book

The Retail Tech Industry: A Breakdown For Business Owners


Retail tech is one huge industry. Already worth billions of dollars and trending upwards in terms of investment (while investment in e-commerce trends down), the retail technology industry seeks to bring human interaction and engagement back to shopping.

Whatcha Gonna Do With All That SaaS

But that’s not the only reason it’s a giant industry. It just encompasses too much. It’s not just the SaaS that allows brick and mortar patrons to check out with one tap. It’s not just the edge computing companies that track where your products are and let your consumers see where you source your materials. It’s not just the “AI & Machine Learning” tagline that people are slapping on every product. It’s a lot, so we’re here to break it down. Because if you own a business, chances are you need to incorporate one or more of these retail tech pieces into your brand puzzle.

E-Commerce… Duh

Yeah, retail tech covers e-commerce. We all know this one.

Brick & Mortar’s Postmortem Revival

We’ll start for real with the basic one: in-store technology. Paying with Square, scanning products to see reviews online, employees checking the inventory on a shared smartphone for their customers while never leaving their side, automatic clock-ins when your employee crosses through the front door. The people running this sector of the retail tech industry are the tech startups that impact sales and processes in a physical way.


Not just delivery in general; pizza boys have been around forever. Delivery under the retail tech umbrella consists of the startups (mostly apps) that allow for the on-demand delivery of goods. Think getting groceries delivered, or a 3rd party person picking up the clothes you ordered from the post office for you so it gets to you faster. On-demand services aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.

Logistics & Other Complicated Things

This is the biggest, most intricate, and to us, most interesting one: the tech-enabled startups that help businesses optimize and expand logistics and supply chain operations. It’s best to break this one down by telling the story of one A+ theoretical company (and let’s work in how they use all the other types of retail tech too, just for fun). I’ll bold the parts that count as logistics/supply chain optimization retail tech.

Let’s say you’re a consumer tech company selling the cheaper but almost-as-popular version of Apple’s AirPods. You get an order through your e-commerce site (one part of retail tech). Your manufacturing team across the globe gets a notice on their iPad of a new order, and they get the order going.

In the meantime, your customer just got an email confirmation that the order was received, and they’ll get a tracking number once it’s on the way. Your delivery service, which partners with an edge computing tech company, receives the order, and your consumer can see where their order is on a map, even if the truck or plane doesn’t consistently have internet connection. You, at the head of the table, can oversee at any point how quickly and efficiently these teams have been working together over the last month, plus see the notification that one of your machines is likely to need maintenance soon. You send someone out to take a look, because that’s cheaper in the long run than waiting for something to break.

Now, since this is a pricey delivery, you don’t want it to get stolen off your customer’s porch. Since they weren’t home to sign for it, their package goes to wait at the post office. But that, for them, is a pain. So they open up the app that picks up packages for them and gives permission to a DoorDash-esque person to grab their package for them and deliver it in the next hour.

Upon getting their order, they can scan the packaging and see exactly where their order came from. If you have a non-profit sector that brings jobs to underprivileged communities like Lush does, your customer could even look up who put together their order. They can get one-click info on if you source materials ethically and with environmental sustainability in mind. Then, they scan a QR code to leave a review on your e-commerce site; and it’s that 5-star review that ups your conversion rate on the site altogether, plus gives the final push to people in your brick-and-mortar in Atlanta that want to see if they can find a better or cheaper version on Amazon.

Why Marketing Matters Amidst All This

Now, obviously, that is some massive dream company. But do you see how retail tech has become an absolute game-changer at every step of the retail industry? And we didn’t even include the other types of startups like those that record and predict clothing returns, giving you extra time to develop a marketing campaign to clear out what you know is about to go out of style, out of season, or just pile up in returned inventory.

A decade ago it was time for brick and mortars to make sure they sell online. In 2020, it’s time to see where in your sales cycle there’s room to improve via retail tech (hint: it’s everywhere) in order to stay ahead.

Now, with us, you’ll always be the expert of your own industry. But we’ll always be the expert in performance marketing FOR your industry– a top marketing firm in Austin, in fact. Because, like retail tech, we span into every facet of our industry. We’ll handle the integrated marketing, the PLA management, the CRO (conversion rate optimization), and everything else, giving you the time to focus on why you started your company in the first place. Because if you’re like us, you’ve got passion mixed in with the blood and tears. We call that sweat equity.

Stay in front of competitors by knowing what’s coming in retail tech, and we’ll make sure you stay on top, too. Here’s the proof.

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