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Not too long ago, many including myself were forecasting major consumer changes for the year 2020. That magical year is just around the corner and it is now time to simplify the digital future of retail.

Big Data is Bot Food for AI

Information or more specifically data has been the power engine evolving the retail industry.  For much of its history, the store, the forefront of the consumer moment of truth, was under-sensored.

With the connected consumer able to instantly choose alternative products or brands, retailers need to integrate a greater number of data sets inside their stores. Welcome to the Internet-of-Things for Retail (IoT):

  • 70% of retail decision makers surveyed globally are ready to adopt the IoT to improve customer experiences.
  • 70% of retailers surveyed globally plan to provide, or are currently providing, item level RFID technology by 2021.
  • 63% of retailers surveyed believe IoT provides more opportunities to drive sales/profits through closer engagement with consumers through their internet-connected mobile devices (watches, tablets, phones).
  • 70% of retailers surveyed worldwide say they agree that the IoT will drastically change the way companies do business in the next three years.
  • Retailers will connect 12.5bn business assets, such as products, digital signs and Bluetooth beacons, to IoT platforms by 2021. This figure is expected to rise from 2.7bn in 2016, representing a 350% increase.

Intelligent Data Retail Filters Please

To cope with the sensor-driven data explosion, progressive retailers will increasingly adopt data intelligent filters. Sample smart filters will include metastasized big data, video analytics, machine learning, and artificial intelligence. 

Immersive Experiences Are in Your Future

Successful retailers will focus on the prescriptive outcomes of the data that lead to immersive customer experiences and reinforce the value of the brand. 

Digital content will increase and lead to creative viral storytelling similar to what you see in the entertainment industry. As predicted in a post earlier this year, by 2020, your entire life will transform into a digital shopping platform.

Sample immersive customer experiences will include frictionless unified commerce, smart mirrors, smart floors, smart fitting rooms, augmented reality, and virtual reality. 

The Center of the Retail Universe

All of the above is interesting, but meaningless if the consumer is not at the center of the retail shopping experience. Product centricity needs to evolve to consumer centricity. 

A successful consumer centric culture includes:

  • Consumers as "Brand Ambassadors" - Strong branding always was a key foundation to a successful retail model. Social media and mobile are making it even more critical to nurture long term consumer partnerships. 
  • Associates as "Brand Ambassadors" - Stop looking at the store associate as just an employee. Transform the front line in the store in passionate ambassadors for your brand by empowering them with mobile devices.
  • Seamless Bricks & Clicks - A unified consumer view across all channels is an important element to building loyalty across bricks & clicks. 
  • Unassisted Self-Checkout - Alas as I started my technology career in this area, the days of the traditional point of sale are numbers. Look to China for the trends in mobile checkout and their importance in building strong brands. 
  • Covert Intelligent Loss Prevention - Traditional loss prevention needs to evolve to support stronger brand engagement and new technologies will make this possible. 

The Digital Future of Retail Simplified

Above are a lot of words describing a transformative future retail model. Let me simplify it all on one chart. 


Walmart's Sam Walton said it best. Don't get up in the technology maze. Continuously strengthen your brand and create immersive shopping experiences to thrive well past the around the corner year 2020. 

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