These 10 Tech Trends Are Driving Retail's Future

In a new report, market intelligence firm IDC unveiled 10 predictions it expects to see in the near term.

It’s that time of year: the moment on the calendar when research firms begin looking to the future to see what lies ahead — and how retailers should be preparing and investing for the future.

In a new report, market intelligence firm IDC unveiled 10 predictions it expects to see in the near term.

Prediction 1

According to the firm, half of retailers will have implemented an omnichannel platform by 2019, which will boost revenue while reducing inventory and operational costs, promotions and total cost of ownership. As a result, these retailers will see their omnichannel profits increase by about 30 percent.

Prediction 2

Nearly a third (30 percent) of the leading retailers will have their digital transformations well underway by 2019. What does this look like? They’ll be shifting their organizations and investment priorities to platforms and technologies driven by cloud computing and artificial intelligence.

Prediction 3

Seeing the need for greater customer-centricity, 40 percent of retailers will deploy customer experience architecture that’s directly supported by artificial intelligence (AI), effectively doubling down on “hyper-micro personalization.” These efforts are expected to pay off with a 30 percent increase in conversion, driving 25 percent higher revenue.

Prediction 4

In the next three years, retailers will turn to tools such as geospatial data to further improve omnichannel operations by trimming inventory carrying costs (up to 25 percent) across stores and DCs.

Prediction 5

Retail customer loyalty will be driven by flawless fulfillment execution for more than half of shoppers by 2020. To meet this expectation of a transparent, user-friendly fulfillment experience, retailer will increase this budget area by as much as 20 percent.

Prediction 6

The voice assistants are coming: by 2021, 10 percent of sales at retail chain stores will be created and managed through voice-enabled digital assistants, a la Alexa and “OK, Google.” This will increase the role of marketplaces in the purchase of everyday household goods.

Prediction 7

As cyberattacks grow ever more complex and sophisticated, three quarters of retailers will deploy AI-based cybersecurity technologies to combat these threats.

Prediction 8

Retailers will wake up to workforce realities: in a year’s time, 40 percent will be transforming their workforce and labor culture to meet customers’ omnichannel expectations for a seamless experience regardless of whether they’re shopping a physical or digital channel.

Prediction 9

Social platforms continue to exert their influence in the retail enterprise. How will retailers make sense of how customers talk about their brands and products on social media? By 2020, one fifth will redesign their product information management/master data management platforms with AI-enabled networks. This move will better link “social semantics” to actual product attributes, creating actionable insights that enhance and integrate merchandising and marketing.

Prediction 10

AI, augmented reality and IoT will move from theory to reality: retailers leveraging these technologies to engage both customers and employees will lift customer satisfaction by as much as 20 percent; worker productivity by up 15 percent; and inventory turns by as much as 25 percent.

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