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NRF Retail Trends - A Glimpse Into The Future

This year's NRF in New York City, hosted at the Jacob K.Javits Convention Center, isn’t disappointing. With an inspiring compliment of speakers and industry experts, it’s buzzing and for us, events such as this present an opportunity to get a glimpse into the future, and the developments which will shape the emerging retail landscape. I wanted to share my thoughts on the key trends, as I believe 2017 will be a very exciting year because the pace that retail technology is now reaching is ‘off the dial’.

AI Apps

Apps will morph into AI integrated apps with machine learning driving the dynamic content that will be served intelligently. Consumers will expect this, smart retailers will already be looking into machine learning technology to help them to meet expectations and experimenting with AI assistants like Apple Siri through the SiriKit developer kit, which was made available early this year. SiriKit enables apps to support messaging, photo search, phone calls, ride booking and personal payments, which would make the Apps of 2016 look asthmatic in comparison.

Connected Digital Convenience

Consumers are now expecting a connected experience online and offline which outperforms their expectations: expectations that have been created by brands like Amazon and Uber. Convenience needs to be at the epicentre of the 2017 technological explosion if retailers want their share prices to go north. Some retailers have already understood this and invested in internal software development labs, external software development partnerships and technology hubs to address morphing consumer expectations.

Super-Aggregated Big Data

Online, shoppers will want sites to offer purchasing suggestions not just based on simple old-skool cookie data and previous purchase information, but on much deeper pools of harvested Big Data, harvested from data reservoirs that have been aggregated in-store, online and through trusted external data repositories and partners. This data will be used in conjunction with machine learning algorithms to deliver content that is hyper personalised.

Mobile Self-Checkout

Mobile self-checkout will be tried, tested and implemented by forward thinking retailers who want to get ahead of the curve and drive up in-store customer satisfaction and convenience. Yes, Amazon is playing with Amazon Go, but it’s worth remembering that this is one store, as a showcase, largely to show off Amazon’s IP to would be tech investors. The business case for mobile self-checkout is a no-brainer especially when one considers the tech is readily available and has already been trialled and implemented in supermarkets.

Virtual Reality

VR headsets will enable shoppers to experience new levels of immersion both in store and online, such as the ability to see what an outfit might look like without actually trying it on; or what an outfit or product might look like in a certain setting or situation. Some retailers are already experimenting with virtual changing rooms to drive brand awareness and engagement. VR experimentation will grow in 2017 and will start to find its natural place through the fingertips of visionary designers and developers.