Technology has penetrated in every sphere of our lives. We live, love, eat and sleep on #technology now. Each year, we see technology moving deeper and deeper into our existence. It’s good and bad – both. Good because it helps us in doing more in less time and efforts. Bad because interweaving of tech in our lives has left us dependent, vulnerable and very anxious.
Let’s see what 2019 has in store for us – specifically 5 technology leaps to look out for in retail.
Omnichannelisation – The technology approach to seamlessly tie all sales channels in a see-anywhere-buy-anywhere way in picking up steam with mainstream brands and retailers. Omni channel technology is also being used as a strategic advantage by multichannel stores and small brands/retailers to scale their operations while centralizing the inventory. The main advantage is higher brand loyalty due to “all touch point” approach – and much lower active inventory requirements. In 2019, we expect omni channel to penetrate deeper into all spheres of retail through simplification and customization of omni-tech.
Cashier-Less Shopping – Yes, it all started with #Amazon GO, a proprietary technology that eliminates the need of checkout registers and cashiers. Customers can activate a geo-sensed resident app (Amazon GO app), walk in, pick up what they need and walk out – and all transaction happens in the backdrop through something what Amazon calls “Just Walk Out” (JWO) Technology. Ease of use, time savings and low cost operations are at the core of this technology. In 2019, you’ll see Amazon and a few other technology providers opening more of these JWO stores worldwide.
Virtual Retail Experience – According to #emarketer report, two thirds of US customers were interested in using Virtual retail experience – where you could get near-real brand and store experiences using head mounted or holographic hardware. 2019 could see a surge in virtual-reality based retail experiences. The upside? No (or very low) rentals and really easy reconfiguration of virtual stores.
Hyper-Local Retail – Hyperlocal retail refers to the technology where consumers can find and buy products near to them using an app that runs on geolocation. A catalog of products from local stores is uploaded on the app and the customers can discover and buy products from nearby stores. It’s a great cusp between purely online and purely offline retail experience. This is very useful for daily needs products, appliances and electronics. It’s awesome for the retailer since it allows for expansion of product-discovery while minimizing store footfall. Overall, a win-win for retailer and consumer. In 2019, watch out for companies like #nearbuy and #zopper making it big in India.
AI-based Consumer Insight – Artificial intelligence and machine learning is growing leaps and bounds in almost every segment. Retail is no exception. In 2019, AI and ML is expected to grow manifold in terms of demand forecasting, inventory planning, customer service bots, natural language based customer engagement and customer’s next purchase (and time) prediction. Though it may sound a bit nerdy, but the more data flows through the AP engines, the more powerful they get at predicting consumer behavior; and provide more powerful strategic advantages to the brands and store. Watch out! If you have that weird feeling that your phone purchase was somehow orchestrated – but cannot put a finger on anything concrete, you may have been Artificially Driven into that purchase!