2019 has been a transformational year for retail. Technology continues to define the rules of the game and consumers are more demanding than ever. Some of the notable trends include hyper-personalization, the rise of voice commerce and experiential retail. Retailers are getting more consumer focussed and need to have a competitive advantage to survive.
“If you’re competitor-focused, you have to wait until there is a competitor doing something. Being customer focused – allows you to be more pioneering”Jeff Bezos
- Walmart and Nuro partnered up to bring autonomous delivery services to Houston-based customers. The vehicles will deliver a full assortment of groceries, fresh produce to pantry products. Walmart clearly sees the potential in technologies like driverless cars to cut costs and boost e-commerce efficiency.
- Amazon have announced they are introducing new inventory sensors to make customers’ lives easier. The sensors let customers know when the supplies used by the device are running low or parts needs replacement, such as printers (inks), thermostats (air filters) and vacuum cleaners (dust bags).
- IKEA expands their AR app that allows customers to try out various pieces of IKEA’s collections in their home. They are on a mission to redefine customer experience by introducing an application with AR (Augmented Reality) and e-commerce combined.
- Krogers Co. and Microsoft Corp. are joining forces to bring the ease of online shopping to brick-and-mortar grocery stores. Kroger and Microsoft are creating a futuristic grocery store to compete with Amazon Go.
- Tesco are planning to use AI powered camera network and sensors on shelves to turn cashierless and heat up competition with Amazon.
- Albertsons to create micro-fulfillment centres to facilitate online grocery orders. The company is getting more robots to grab groceries in collaboration with Takeoff technologies.
The retail technological investment list can go on. Retailers are now dependent on technology to improve their competitive position (Both online and offline) and increase sales. The technology can extend from in store personalisation to back end supply chain and everything in between.
Besides the fact that retailers are opening new stores and investing to improve their competitive position, there are some retailers who didn’t innovate and have paid the price. According to the BBC retailers in Britain have shut around 2,870 stores in the first half of 2019. About 16 shops are closing everyday due to the restructure and more shopping moving online.
While physical retail faces challenges it is by no means a dying industry. Online giants Alibaba opened their first physical store in europe earlier this year. If I had to make a prediction I can’t see it being their last..