The transformational shift in how and where consumers shop has been causing major disruption for an age-old industry. Retail, a critical channel for electronics OEMs, is changing faster than ever and with it will come new challenges and opportunities for consumers and brands alike. The good news? Traditional retail will survive, but in a new reality known as Retail 4.0.
In October 2017, at the Get Smart Summit, industry professionals explored how brands can utilize trends to connect with the next generation of consumers. Eight trends are emerging as critical to making Retail 4.0 a reality and helping retail thrive in this new environment:
The polarization of retail
Retail will become highly convenient and experiential. The discount and luxury sectors are booming, outpacing the whole retail industry, and those caught between value and high-end will find it increasingly difficult to compete and grow, and in some cases even survive.
High-profile department stores such as Macy's and Sears have closed numerous locations. And with constant news of declining retail sales and bankruptcies, you wouldn't be remiss to assume that there is a retail apocalypse occurring. However, all is not what it seems. Not only is retail surviving, but by some accounts, it's flourishing. In fact, a report from the IHL Group found that U.S. retailers are opening 4,080 more stores in 2017 than they are closing.
Major growth expected for virtual assistants
Although mass adoption is still out of reach, use of voice activated assistants is on the rise. According to a report from eMarketer, 35.6 million Americans will use a voice-activated assistant device at least once a month in 2017, up 128.9% over last year.
Photo courtesy: Amazon
These impressive statistics help illustrate how retail is changing into a more convenient experience with the help of Artificial Intelligence (AI). As AI becomes as ubiquitous as the smartphone did a decade ago, retailers must work with third parties like Alexa, Google Home and Siri, to stay in the game.
Walmart, for example, recently partnered with Google to offer hundreds of thousands of items through voice shopping by using Google Assistant. This increased level of automation will raise the bar for brands to encourage consumers to break habits and switch products based on voice-activated preferences.
AI reshapes the customer journey
As we get used to talking to Alexa or Siri at home, we want to take that experience with us in the car and to the mall. This past summer, Macy's launched a new mobile app that uses AI to help customers navigate through the store.