NRF & 2018 Innovation Trends in Retail Technology

By most counts, 2018 is not a year retail industry will see downward trajectory. Some corrections like store closures, bankruptcies or near-bankruptcies happened last year (please read my published 2017 NRF trends blog from last year here). While there may still be a few more blemishes left, this is the year that will usher continuous and unprecedented innovation in the retail industry. Up until November 2017, total US retail trade sales are up a healthy 4.2% over 2016. Non-store retail (10.2%), Gasoline stations (8.8%) and building materials and garden supplies (8.2%), Auto parts (4.9%) and furniture (4.6%) showed respectable gains. In all likelihood, when December sales figures are reported, retail sales will end up close to or over 5% comp over 2016. As of third quarter 2017, e-commerce sales were 8.4% of total retail sales. In order to kick-off 2018 in an insights-led way, outlined in this blog are a few key industry trends, strategies and solutions that can help retailers focus better, innovate and address the business challenges facing them today. The business challenges are several and can be classified into three groups: Organizational:   • Lack of internal and external collaboration; uninspired workforce; cultural conflicts between bricks and clicks teams Operational:   • Poor store execution; low product differentiation; high cost of digital orders; unpredictable store demand; pricing and promotions-related pains Customer:   • Unexciting loyalty programs; inaccurate segmentation; wishy-washy personalization; lack of actionable customer insights The question remains why outside of a complete lack of investible capital and executive leadership are most retailers delaying or postponing bringing a customer-led and a balanced innovation approach to the forefront? In...

Is Artificial Intelligence (AI) the most feared technology?

When it comes to retail, AI is showing signs of bringing positive disruption to the retail sector by improving the efficiency to analyze shopper demographic data, order delivery times and customer service. It is predicted that by 2020 and beyond, 85% of customer interactions in some form will be managed by AI applications like natural language processing (NLP) or by combining several different AI applications together. The term “artificial intelligence” is applied when a machine mimics “cognitive” functions that humans associate with other human minds, such as “learning” and “problem solving.” While traditional data mining extracts data for humans to analyze, AI draws conclusions on its own. Yet, despite the fact retail executives have revealed that AI has helped drive on average 3%-5% customer satisfaction improvements that in turn has driven sales, it is giving some retail executives goosebumps. The reason is the implicit fear associated with machines and algorithms. There are some who believe that AI-driven automation will take over core retail functions and some or many associates or employees who work very hard every day will lose their jobs at the headquarters, and especially in the stores, distribution centers and call centers. While it is natural such doubts creep in from time to time, such notions are removed from ground realities. Mckinsey did some really insightful research in 2017 to understand automation potential and wages for US jobs. Retailing is another sector with a high technical potential for automation and this applies to several innovative technologies such as AI and its machine learning, robotics and NLP applications. It is estimated that 53 percent of its activities are...

Changing the In-Store Experience Forever

Strategic Product Marketing Executive of Infovista Network Performance Solutions, Ricardo Belmar, discusses digital transformation in retail and how it is changing the in-store customer experience highlighted with some industry examples. Download Full...

Omni-channel Maturity and Opportunity Cost Assessment

This tool helps retailers understand the maturity of their Omni-channel operations, capabilities and assess what the lack of an integrated approach costs on an annualized basis. After taking the survey, the respondent will receive a customized assessment that will highlight: The opportunity cost of not having Omni-channel execution capabilities Maturity of their Omni-channel strategy when compared with the industry Age of their Omni-channel technology stack compared with the industry Demo...

Strategies for agile, profitable and secure omnichannel execution

The surge in omnichannel commerce has redefined the way retailers interact with customers. In the pursuit to remain competitive and increase the customer base, retailers have mostly focused on front-end strategies to grab customer attention.However, of late, they have also realized the importance of an integrated order fulfillment and secure back-end process for seamless omnichannel execution.This report entails the various strategies that aid them to do so. Download Full...