How is disruptive technology changing retail?

29 Jun 2023  |  by Joe Meade

6 min read 

Technology affects multiple areas of our lives and the way many industries operate, including retail. Technological advancements help retailers improve their decision-making, connect with their customers and ensure they’re making consistent profits.

Innovative technology that alters the way a business operates is known as disruptive technology. These technological advancements can improve or replace the processes and systems a business previously relied on. So how is disruptive technology affecting the retail industry? 

Here, we’ll explore the effects of disruptive technology in retail, to help you understand how it can impact your business and create new opportunities.

What is digital disruption?

Digital disruption refers to the transformation and changes that occur when new digital technologies disrupt existing industries, products and services. While ‘disruption’ may sound like a threat to your business, it’s only a negative force to companies who choose to ignore it. Organisations who embrace digital change often find it can benefit their business in several ways and contribute to growth as a result.

Digital disruption can create opportunities for businesses who are willing to adapt and alter their current ways of working, but can also threaten the survival of businesses who aren’t willing to embrace change. So, as technology continues to evolve and affect our lives, digital disruption is likely to continue to impact a range of industries and sectors - and will only strengthen your business if you’re willing to embrace it. 

It’s not just technological change that’s disrupting retail - consumers’ preferences and behaviours are changing too. Consumers want quick and easy access to products and services, meaning they expect more from a retail business than ever before. If they can’t find what they’re looking for, they’ll look elsewhere. With this in mind, embracing disruptive technology in retail doesn’t just impact the success of your organisation, but the satisfaction of your customers too. 

What disruptive technology is affecting retail?

There are several disruptive technologies in retail that are affecting the industry, and companies that fail to embrace it run the risk of being left behind. Here are just some of the emerging technologies in retail that can impact your business:

Mobile technology

Mobile technology is constantly evolving. It’s predicted that by 2025 there will be over 64 million active smartphone users in the UK. This growth has meant customers favour companies that have user-friendly websites and apps that they can easily navigate. Mobile technology in retail enables customers to compare prices and shop at any time from anywhere, all from their phones. In fact, the UK has the largest mobile retail market in Europe, with 43% of online retailing being carried out via smartphones or tablets.

With this in mind, businesses should aim to optimise their websites for mobile, to give their customers the best user experience possible. Space is minimal on mobile devices, so text, images and buttons need to be resized to be functional and accessible for all users. If your company doesn’t embrace this shift to mobile, you may lose customers as a result. Ensuring your brand optimises its content for mobile can help retain customers and offer them a memorable customer experience that they’ll want to come back to. 

Augmented reality

Augmented reality (AR) involves superimposing computer-generated virtual enhancements (text, images, audio, etc) onto a user’s view of the real world. This type of disruptive technology can help your customers engage with your product or service before they buy.  

AR can be particularly beneficial for customers buying certain products and may be the decision-maker in encouraging them to buy. For example, those looking to buy furniture may typically look to buy in-store as it can be difficult to visualise the size of a sofa or table without seeing it in person. Offering AR as a furniture retailer can help customers digitally project the furniture into their home, so they can judge if it's the right size or style. 

There are several benefits to offering augmented reality in retail. AR gives your customers the chance to try products before they buy them, which can be useful for more expensive items like electronics or furniture. In turn, this can increase both sales and engagement and improve your conversion rate. 

Artificial Intelligence

Artificial intelligence (AI) can unlock opportunities in almost every aspect of your retail business. From supporting your retail operation to optimising your processes, AI can help you to compete in your industry and meet your customers’ needs. With 9 out of 10 top businesses having an ongoing investment in AI, it’s worth using it to your advantage to stay ahead of your competitors. 

AI can offer many benefits to both your business and your customers, including:

  • Improved customer experience: AI chatbots and recommendation systems can analyse your customers’ purchase and browsing behaviour to provide personalised recommendations to them, which can offer a more personal shopping experience
  • Automation: AI can help automate tasks that humans would otherwise do. This can allow your team to spend less time on mundane jobs and more time on the important stuff. This can increase efficiency and improve your overall customer experience
  • Detecting fraud: AI can analyse your customer data to spot fraudulent activities, reducing the risk of financial losses
  • Greater customer service: AI-powered chatbots can handle your customer queries and complaints, which can reduce response times and give your customer the solution they need quickly
  • Optimised supply chain: Artificial intelligence can review your customers’ previous purchases and alert you when best-selling products are low in stock. This can help you ensure your inventory is well-stocked. AI can also identify seasonal trends and predict when certain products will be in high demand


Personalisation in retail involves tailoring the customers’ shopping experience to meet their individual needs and preferences. Customer data and insights will help you to better understand your customers’ needs and preferences. 

Retail personalisation can work in several ways including personalised product recommendations based on your customers’ browsing history, targeted promotions, personalised content and personalised emails. You can even combine personalisation with location data to provide your customers with localised offers depending on where they live. 

The goal? To create a more engaging shopping experience that your customers will remember, which will encourage them to remain loyal to your brand and recommend it to others. 


Another example of disruptive technology in retail is the use of analytics. Retail analytics can provide you with the insights you need to remove the guesswork and make informed decisions. Collect and analyse your retail data, from pricing to sales, to identify trends, predict outcomes and make more informed decisions. Data-backed decisions give you more insight into the performance of your business, which you can use to grow profits and improve customer experience. 

Using analytics can offer many benefits to retailers, including:

  • Customer insights: Analytics can give you insight into your customers’ decisions and buying habits. You can better understand your customer’s behaviour, demographics and preferences. This data can help you tailor your products, services and messaging to meet your customers’ needs, which can increase sales and improve customer loyalty
  • Improved marketing: You can use analytics to measure the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns, from social media marketing to advertising. Looking into your customer data can give you insight into which marketing strategies are effective, and which need improving. For example, by using analytics you may find your Instagram engagement rate is dropping but many of your customers are better engaging with your TikTok activity instead, which could encourage you to focus more on that particular platform
  • Pricing optimisation: Analytics can help you to set prices that are both competitive and profitable. Analyse competitor prices and customer behaviour to identify the optimal pricing strategies, to maximise profits while meeting your customers’ needs

Overall, analytics can help your retail business make informed, data-driven decisions to improve your marketing efforts, processes and customer experience by continually uncovering areas for optimisation and improvement.

How Apteco can help your retail business 

Disruptive technology has given retailers new ways to engage with customers and run their businesses more effectively. As technology continues to evolve, so do consumers' preferences and expectations. Today, if your customers’ needs aren’t met, they’ll go to a competitor. With this in mind, it’s more important than ever to use technology to your advantage and embrace it as a tool for reinvention and improvement. 

If you’re looking for a way to truly understand your customers’ needs and behaviours, look no further than Apteco. You can harness the power of your customer data to increase sales, drive conversions and retain your customers. Apteco’s software can give you a complete picture of your customer data, so you can tailor your marketing campaigns to their individual needs. 

Why not take a look at how we can support your retail business? When you’re ready, book a demo today to get started.


Joe Meade

Group Marketing and Communications Specialist

Joe joined the Apteco marketing team in 2021. A large part of Joe's role involves coordinating regular partner and customer communications, events and exhibitions, monthly marketing reports and website development. Outside of work, Joe spends his weekends either watching or playing rugby.

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