VISIONARY
TECHNOLOGY
LEADERSHIP

Top 25 Retail Website / Global Retail Influencer

 

Retail

 

“We are laser-focused on continuous improvements to customers’ experience across our stores. By leveraging Everseen’s Visual AI and machine-learning technology, we’re not only able to remove friction for the customer, but we can also remove controllable costs from the business and redirect those resources to improving the customer experience even more.” - Mike Lamb, Kroger's VP of Asset Protection

computer vision

This post was inspired by a recent Kroger article announcing the deployment of visual artificial intelligence (AI) in 2500 stores and new IHL Group edge computing research. Multiple technological trends have been converging for some time and their combination is leading to transformative store operations improving solutions. 

By 2021, one billion video cameras will be deployed around the world. Endless possibilities in creating immersive consumer experiences emerge when artificial intelligence and machine learning are coupled with these visual data gathering devices.

COVID-19 has become a disruptive accelerator of digital transformation trends that were already underway. It takes 66 days or approximately two months to form a new permanent habit. New shopping journey habits have emerged during the pandemic that will require intensified analysis of millions of data inputs to both protect transactions and remove negative experience friction. 

What are some of the leading Visual AI or computer vision applications today? In retail, what's the Return on Investment (ROI)? What makes these technologies critical to the future of retail?

The Computers Have Eyes

 

Smartphone TikTok

The latest 2020 IHL Group forecast points to a COVID-19 negative $1.6 trillion global retail economic impact, with USA sales declining 7.6% this year. Fortunate sectors such as grocery and mass merchandisers will achieve double digit growth. Among the worst performers are departments stores (-23%) and specialty soft goods (-33%).

How do these challenged retail sectors, which are not expected to recover to 2019 levels until 2023, return to growth? One potential answer can be found in China, which on multiple levels remains the innovation laboratory for the future of retail. 

"Virtually nonexistent three years ago, livestreaming now accounts for 4% of total online retail sales in China and about 1% of total retail sales. The number of products promoted on Taobao (Alibaba) via livestreaming nearly tripled in 2019—before the pandemic—and the number of Taobao livestreaming merchants almost doubled." 

What is livestreaming e-commerce? What is making it successful in China? 

Key Opinion Leaders (KOL's) Drive Livestreaming

 

police 2167968 1920

The Wall Street Journal recently reported a sharp rise in deadly violence in major USA cities. Their analysis of crime statistics among the nation's 50 largest cities found that reported homicides increased 24% so far this year. 

"Police, researchers, mayors and community leaders see a confluence of forces at work in the homicide spike. Institutions that keep city communities safe have been destabilized by lockdown and protests against police. Lockdowns and recession also mean tensions are running high and streets have been emptied of eyes and ears on their communities. Some attribute the rise to an increase in gang violence."

This article is a follow up to the very successful July 2020 Global Retail Crime Summit. The Wall Street Journal analysis and the just published D&D Daily retail crime reports are a reminder of the challenges we face. Similar to the urban increase in homicides, retail experienced spikes in violence in the first half of the year. 

Summarized in this post are the latest USA retail violence, organized retail crime (ORC) and retail robbery trends. As I pointed out in my Crime Summit presentation and in a recent podcast, data driven industry collaboration, increased best practices communication, and new technologies are critical components to attacking multiple of the surreal challenges taking place in 2020.

 Retail Related Fatalities Were Up 45% in Q2/2020

 

personal 3148100 1920

Consumer spending accounts for roughly 70% of USA economic growth in the United States. In a short amount of time, COVID-19 has become a brutal disruptor of traditional buying patterns.

Research indicates that it takes 66 days or roughly two months for a behavior to become an automatic habit. That is roughly how long most countries were in various lockdown phases.

As we reopen stores, we are in unchartered shopping territory. This article summarizes the latest shopping data, key insights on the digital shifts underway, and recommendations for a stronger retail industry recovery.

"Retailers need to stop expecting business to return to “normal.” There’s no going back to how it was anytime soon. Even before the Covid-19 pandemic and economic crisis, brick-and-mortar retailers had been fighting a fierce battle against Amazon and other e-commerce players. Those challenges have now accelerated at staggering speed."

The Toilet Paper Crisis in NOT Over

 

lockdown 5140112 1920 1

Throughout the COVID-19 lockdown phase, I have been following very closely the global economic and retail trends in anticipation of the reopening phases which are now underway in many parts of the world. Good signs from key markets such as USA which saw the biggest historical increase in retail sales in May. 

The threat of multiple other waves of COVID-19 is still present, but key lessons have already emerged to guide countries during the reopening phase. Continuing to do well are most of the essential retailers, e.g. food and drug stores. Their growth spike will slow as more of the retail industry reopens. Best positioned are those essential retailers that had fully scaled services such as Buy-on-Line-Pick-Up-in-Store (BOPIS) prior to the pandemic lockdown. 

Non-essential retailers, especially apparel and department stores have a longer road to recovery and some projections have them returning to 2019 level in the distant year 2023. To survive these sectors have already accelerated discounting, a recipe which will trains consumers to expect more and further delay profitability. As Neil Saunders pointed out in his June 12 Webinar, in May 2019 just over 21% of apparel items were discounted and the average discount was nearly 18%. For May 2020, nearly 70% of the items are discounted and the average discount rate is more than double at just over 44%.

The lockdown online shopping spike is subsiding with various forecasts having 2020 reach 20% to 21% of total USA retail sales. Prior to the pandemic, USA ecommerce was expected to reach anywhere from 15% to 19% of total retail sales as projected by multiple industry analysts. 

COVID-19 has become a brutal accelerator of digital transformation trends that were already underway. Ecommerce has leaped two to three years ahead of previous growth patterns. There will be a substantial number of physical stores in the boring middle that failed to keep up with consumer engagement and innovation that will close. 

 

The Top 5 Pure Retail, Apparel, and Luxury Brands

woman 500703 1920

"Brands will matter more in the world the virus leaves behind, and those that work now to build trust by acting, visibly and decisively, with an essential and authentic purpose, will be among the survivors. If they find new reserves of agility, creativity, and resolve, they can shape the way consumers view them in the midst of the crisis, and emerge not just with a viable business, but a sharp competitive edge." - BrandZ 2020 Report

Every year I look forward to the latest BrandZ Global Most Valuable Brands Report. Timely for 2020, BrandZ published a separate Global Top 75 Retail Brands edition that includes in-depth COVID-19 analysis on the impact of the pandemic to brands.  

"The combined value of the BrandZ Top 75 Most Valuable Retail Brands has risen by 12% in the past year, to $1.514 trillion. These brands come from four sub-categories: Pure Retail, Fast Food, Apparel and Luxury, and they are growing despite – and in some cases as a result of – severe disruption in the market."

This article summarizes some of my favorite insights from the 131 pages 2020 retail report. 

Top 5 Global Retail Brands

 

covid 19 5144238 1920

Latest Post COVID-19 Global GDP and Retail Forecasts

For the last couple of months during the lockdown, I have been extremely busy continuing to speak with retailers, working several board opportunities, setting up an in-house studio, opening a new YouTube Channel, hiring research resources, and participating in a plethora of podcasts and webinars. Because of COVID-19, my primary focus has shifted to providing intensive data-backed analysis to the "new normal" ahead.

This article summarizes the latest data from multiple leadership sources on the near term economic and retail challenges from COVID-19. All the trends confirm a post pandemic "New Normal".

What will be the 2020 GDP impact to key economies? Which consumer categories are positive? Which continent will lead the recovery? How many USA stores have reopened? Will it be a V, U, or L shaped retail recovery? How long will it take for key USA retail sectors to recover? Is online retail permanently eating the consumer world? Where do we go from here?

Worldwide COVID-19 GDP / Consumer Expenditures Impact

 

corona 4938929 1920

In 2019, China was projected to surpass the United States to become the world's largest retail market. On November 11, 2019, Alibaba celebrated a record $38 billion in online retail sales during the Singles' Day 24-hour shopping holiday. 

Because of the USA trade wars and subsequently COVID-19, the euphoric rise of China in being THE number one country in retail has been delayed. Notwithstanding this ascension, China continues to be the digital laboratory for the future of retail. 

In this article, we explore a few of the China emerging technologies deployed during the lockdown which have a direct impact on retail. Next, we look at the digital innovation steps leading to the reopening of a "new normal" retail industry.

There's an App for That Pandemic Track

Very impressive is a recent presentation from Andreessen Horowitz on the number of apps deployed in China to fight COVID-19. Linked to the Alipay (Alibaba) mobile payment system, one of the examples apps provides a color QR code on your health. 

 

The Latest Post Pandemic Retail Sales Forecasts

RetailNewNormal2

"At a time when people were confined to their homes, we moved swiftly to leverage our digital app ecosystem and Nike expert trainer network to inspire and support consumers across China to stay active and connected while at home. As a result, our Nike Training Club (NTC) workouts in China saw an extraordinary rise in signup and engagement. In fact, our weekly active users for all of our Nike activity apps were up 80% by the end of Q3 versus the beginning of the quarter.

And here's what happened - the strong engagement of Chinese consumers with our activity apps translated into strong engagement with our Nike commerce app. As a result, our digital business in China grew more than 30% and maintained strong momentum throughout this challenging period, a powerful statement of Nike’s agile problem-solving in times of disruption." - Nike CEO

During China's peak of the COVID-19 outbreak earlier this year, nearly 760 million people were in some form of home lockdown. Above Nike response is an example of the positive actions taken by retailers during the health crisis.

This article summarizes the COVID-19 China's "new retail" strategies, generational commerce transformation trends, and the latest global / regional retail sales forecasts post the pandemic. 

China COVID-19 Lessons Accelerating the Future of Retail

Conceived by Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma, "New Retail is a critical chapter in the comeback story of physical retail, and the digitization of all retail." As China has now transitioned through most of the COVID-19 crisis, here are a few lessons from new retail:

 

FutureRetailCover

At the recent annual conference of the International Supply Chain Protection Organization (ISCPO), it was a great pleasure to deliver the latest edition of my continuously updated 'Disruptive Future of Retail' presentation. As it is top of mind for everyone, my opening remarks focused on supply chains and the growing global concerns with the Coronavirus (COVID-19).

Timely to the conference was my last article, 'The Coronavirus and Its Predictable Future of Retail'. As I expressed to the audience, the end of the health crisis is uncertain but multiple historical lessons point to eventual retail recovery and stabilization. 

"By stimulating (more aggressive China) demand for online shopping, the outbreak has highlighted the broader need for traditional retailers to keep moving away from a reliance on brick-and-mortar stores to an omnichannel model." As my futuristic presentation explores, China on multiple levels was already leading retail disruption. COVID-19 will accelerate digital transformation trends to the rest of the world. 

This article summarizes just a few of the NEW charts from the 2020 edition of the Disruptive Future of Retail. 

The $30 Trillion Retail Opportunity