Technology has never been more important to retail than it is now, with constant innovation there is always something new and unexpected right around the corner case and point, the phrase “conversational commerce” well I would call it that but it was the term given. This phrase was fairly unknown in retail until 2016, but the sector took major steps into the rising waters of conversational commerce era with new solutions using artificial intelligence and chatbots to interact with customers.
Today this is common place, innovation at every level is pushing the boundaries of what it can or will be able to do in the near future for customer experience.
Retailers are already making significant investments in tech, Wal-Mart alone spent more than $10.5 billion on IT in 2015, Alibaba spent about $18.3 billion to invest in 65 companies, including acquiring eight companies and investing in 15 overseas businesses. These giants companies have set the pace, smaller stores have to meet the demands of an increasingly digital customer base.
For the coming years, retail will be even close intertwined with the tech industry as they are leading the charge in development and experience and the big winners will be brands that able to integrate the technologies best.
Tech with a Future
Blockchain and Bitcoin
The blockchain is essentially a shared ledger technology that allows companies and their partners to accurately manage and track complex digital transactions. Wal-Mart was one of the first retailers to plan an international implementation of blockchain as it looks to impose better tracking.
Digital currency Bitcoin might be our future even if it is a bit harder to predict. blockchain is the underlying ledger technology for Bitcoin, though most retailers have yet to allow their customer to buy things using bitcoin, which I think boils down to fear or lack of understanding. However, Overstock to the leap by being the first company to accept the crypto currency, I honestly think it will be a while before we all start using it and with companies like Stripe, PayPal and Square moving early to support bitcoin payment processing. It might not be very far away.
Talking to AI who thought it would become a thing. AI-powered chatbots that are improved with new data streams and integration across channels says Dave O’Flanagan, CEO and co-founder of cloud platform Boxever. “Chatbots are only as valuable as the relationships they build and the scenarios they can support, so their level of sophistication will make or break them,” he says. It is becoming a thing in China and retailers are taking notes while slowly implementing it into their customer's experience.
It might be strange that I put robotics here because they have been around for a while at least in the supply chain. Now what is happening is that they are in plain sight, several retailers and other brands are making this move, Amazon has around 45,000 robots working in warehouses and other aspects of supply and logistics.
Many people are wondering what will happen, will they take our jobs, there is a high probability of that happening depending on your field, for now, we get to see them in our stores helping and in a few years maybe even into home delivery.
This one surprised me not in I know it all type of shock but a what in the world is going on, but industry professionals are ready to go with it...why? because It helps retailers connect the physical and digital worlds and to facilitate real-time interaction with consumers both inside and outside the store, says Andrew Hopkins. IoT lead for retail at Accenture Mobility, part of Accenture Digital. “Connected devices and products will enable retailers to optimize operations in the face of a more complex supply chain, increasingly important digital channels, and evolving customer demands.”
Cashless and loving it, as ever demanding consumers are expecting to get what they want more quickly and easily, reducing friction in payment was a must, brands like Alibaba, Bingbox and Amazon Go, scan to pay grocery store and even the self-checkout at Rebecca Minkoff are the right step forward. Add this with the capabilities of IoT will heighten the level of convenience that form the ultimate customer experience.
Brave New World
It will only keep growing, the tech sector is hell bent on changing how we do everything and I mean everything in our daily life. The goal for retail and other service industries are to adapt and evolve with the tech that suits their specific needs.
At Shops of the Future, we are here to help brands evolve in this changing competitive industry. To book a workshop with us, you can leave a comment here, use the contact form on our home page, or send us an email at email@example.com
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