Technological advances are creating unprecedented changes across consumer-facing industries. This report provides a holistic view of retail tech adoption, exploring technologies like artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, augmented reality and automation. It identifies the consumer preferences influencing shopping behaviour, and the factors pushing industry innovation to understand where retailers should be making their tech investments in 2021 and beyond.
With consumers reducing time in store due to safety concerns during the COVID-19 pandemic, the growing reliance on technology has become that much more apparent. Technological investments are being used to reinvent all aspects of the retail experience, including online discovery, digital payments, delivery and collection, and the in-store experience.
One of the most profound changes unfolding in commerce is the digital shift, which has been accelerated by the pandemic. With consumers shopping online more than ever before, companies are seeking to improve these experiences, which thus far have focused on initiatives that are more foundational in nature.
The pandemic prompted some retailers to adopt contactless options to reduce the risk of virus transmission, which included pushing the launch or expansion of digital payment options to help facilitate both in-store and online transactions. More futuristic payments experiences, which may use blockchain, virtual reality or virtual assistants, remain far off propositions.
The last mile experience is facing its day of reckoning as e-commerce grows rapidly. Last mile reinvention has emerged as a top initiative for many retailers. Global retail professionals view both the ability of artificial intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT) to improve fulfilment and logistics as promising.
The role of stores is shifting as more commerce moves to digital channels. While attention is currently focused on e-commerce, one third of global retail professionals surveyed believe COVID-19 will accelerate initiatives to enhance the in-store experience, too.
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