From the neon sign to the shopping cart to the electronic cash register, retail growth has always been tied to technology. Only time will tell about what truly benefits the sector, but here are some thoughts about what might happen in the next few years for retail companies.
Look out for Instagram
For years, Amazon has not only dominated ecommerce and mobile shopping, they seem to separate from the pack more and more. But Instagram may be able to do the unthinkable and battle it out for the top mobile shopping app. Instagram has more than 100 million monthly users compared to Amazon’s approximately 140 million monthly mobile users. Companies already use Instagram for promotion, and with the Instagram shopping app coming soon, it could be a combination that might keep Amazon executives up at night.
More retailers will embrace click-and-collect
In the copycat, ultra-competitive retail landscape, many companies now offer same-day shipping to meet consumer demand. But click-and-collect, where you buy online and pick up the order at the store, has become increasingly popular for the same reason. Giants like Target and Wal-Mart have to plans to increase their click-and-collect program, not just to appease customers, but also because shipping may become more expensive.
More tech in the aisle
Smart retailers have realized that if people love technology at home and work so much, they should also have it for the in-store experience. Companies may soon be adding life to the aisle with a host of interactive and video experiences. Even more, virtual reality consoles will not only enhance shopping choices, they will deepen the relationship between consumers and brands.
AI for retail finally makes sense
Retailers have been cautious about artificial intelligence, believing they still need employees to make the most critical strategic decisions. But more and more, AI is proving its ability to recommended profitable products and, in the process, drive ROI.
Subscriptions become less popular
According to Retail Dive, almost 40% of subscribers cancel their service, and “more than a third cancel in less than three months.” There are a number of reasons why, including impulse buys that lose their dazzle and poor pricing options. Companies can combat this downward trend by focusing more on replenishment.
If it’s social, use it for selling
Social media platforms already have big audiences and loyal followings, so it makes sense for them to become full-fledged ecommerce destinations. Think about the billions that use WhatsApp and Instagram – if they did all (or most of) their online shopping on those apps, powerhouse ecommerce companies like Amazon and EBay would have their hands full.
Shop while you drive
With the increasing use of voice technology overall, and its continued integration into cars specifically, we may soon be shopping as we drive. Imagine buying movie tickets, planning a Hawaiian vacation, or getting a birthday gift for your best friend – all while zipping through the city. This scenario is now more of a “when”, not “if.”
We all know that technology will constantly evolve. The important question for retailers: How will they implement that technology to meet new consumer and market demands? As always, the answer will determine who leads and who follows.