2018 retail technology predictions part one
“Tech in retail just doesn’t seem to have moved forwards in line with predictions, including mine, over the past few years. The shared desire of basics such as real-time stock visibility and single views of critical data still seem to be holy grails rather than business as usual capabilities.
In terms of general predictions for 2018 I am saddened to say that I think the year will start with some household names not making it far beyond Q1. As I walk the High Streets this Christmas the shops don’t feel as busy as they did the same time last year. The output from Black Friday is positive from a revenue point of view but that can often mask sales at the cost of margin for some retailers. I hope this is one prediction that turns out to be incorrect.
In terms of tech for 2018 I am not going with the fashionable items around AI or automation. Instead I have a few other predictions. Firstly, I am going to regurgitate a prediction from ten plus years ago in terms of mass adoption of RFID. There appears to be a lot going on in retail at the moment and it seems that the cost of labels and the associated tech is now in an acceptable place. Next, I definitely think next year will see a much bigger uptake of mobile technology use in the hands of store staff. Also, there will be some sort of tech associated with GDPR. I’m not sure what it is but you can feel the ambulance chasing businesses warming up nicely. This is definitely going to require some kind of tech solution. Lastly, I predict a few retailers will trial some radical new approaches to in store retailing that will start to change the face of the consumer experience in a meaningful way.” Huw Thomas, Managing Director, PMC
“Our immediate challenge is ensuring that the business is compliant with the EU General Data Protection Regulation which comes into force in May 2018 and to ensure staff are aware of what data is stored and where it is stored so they can exercise the customer’s ‘right to be forgotten’.
The rapid pace of change in technology is by far the greatest challenge as online retailers have to stay ahead of trends or create them; businesses that follow trends are already too late and lose to competitors. Just as we invest in visual search and build our youtube marketing channel, Facebook Watch launches and we now have to move focus to the newest social media tool. Online retailers need more cash reserves than ever to constantly evolve their proposition as the list of areas to invest in are endless. Typically, customer-facing front end investments are required such as AI applications in customer recommendations, eg Conversica, reducing return rates and costs of returns, updating payment security and fraud detection software, and finally improving delivery and returns propositions.
Let’s not forget the basics of retail, it’s all about emotion, people, product and service. Consumers have become educated to use the internet to search for what they want, when they want it, at the cheapest price, which means there has never been a harder time for retailers to find a point of difference. The focus for all consumer-facing businesses is now on creating experiences. It is about truly putting the customer at the heart of the brand and in making all the key touchpoints and the physical environment deliver an outstanding and lasting impression on people.” Jess Jeetly, Founder and CEO, Jeetly
“2018 might be Amazon’s most interesting year to date. After its surprise acquisition of Whole Foods in 2017, the question is: which established industry will it take on next? 2018 could be the year when Amazon becomes truly unstoppable, or gets cut down to size.” Lucie Greene, Worldwide Director, J. Walter Thompson’s Innovation Group
“Despite the UK introducing new one pound coins and ten pound notes this year, we’ll see a further acceleration to a cashless society, not only in Britain but globally in 2018. This profound shift in how people pay for goods and services will also have an effect on the rise in blockchain adoption. As all money can more easily be traced to its rightful owner and beyond government’s control, Bitcoin will continue to rise in popularity and also valuation.” Sophie Guibaud, VP of European Expansion, Fidor Bank
“The bricks and mortar of retailing continues to change; shops and shopping malls will become lifestyle destinations. Customers will continue to research and make their purchase decisions online and still visit the store to immerse themselves in the brand experience. Live online product and brand demonstrations will be broadcast through shopping centres, stores and websites simultaneously, which will provide localised and personalised content and experiences for shoppers within shopping locations and in the comfort of their homes.” André Hordagoda, Co-founder, GoInStore
“Over the past year, one retail technology trend particularly worth noting is how the technology gap between retail leaders and laggards has been widening. No longer can retail companies take a “wait and see” approach to the latest tech innovations infiltrating the industry. The recent wave of digital-first companies, such as Bonobos, Warby Parker and others, that launched online with e-commerce before expanding into physical retail, have a head start in providing the kind of top-notch, user-friendly experience that tech-savvy shoppers are seeking.” iVend Retail