Can Retail Survive In 2019?

Technology is changing the retail industry as business comes under attack from online shopping and the internet. The trend will continue in 2019, as technology continues to disrupt shops and supermarkets.

New Retail

Retail is evolving to reflect a combination of traditional and online shopping. Supermarkets are undergoing a transformation as automation spreads to displace human labour. Products appear and disappear as a result of online reviews and ratings feedback. Speed and price dominate competition as online retailers move faster and sell cheaper than older rivals. Quick access and payment methods shorten waiting times from point of order to delivery, which delight the digital shopper. Trials and pilot testing explore how customers are able to shop without the frustration of having to stopping and pay. Cameras register items as they are removed from shelves and charge them directly to customers upon leaving. And the convenience of one-click shopping from the comfort of the couch to next day delivery is one of the wonders of online shopping. Meanwhile, traditional retailers struggle to reinvent business models as they haemorrhage profits and grow less competitive each day.

Some of the most obvious changes have already taken place at the checkout, as customer self-scanning techniques replace employee interaction and any semblance of contact. The next step in the substitution of staff will see the introduction of robots to stock shelves, reduce costs and increase efficiency. Technology will not negate the need for every employee but will reduce the numbers employed as owners are forced to invest in new systems to succeed. Virtual reality and early stage holograms will shape the shopping experience too, as retailers provide interactive digital customer experiences to increase traffic and turnover. Smartfloors that track and analyse shoppers every movement are also on the horizon as a way to attract customers, understand flow patterns and encourage specific routes to maximise time spent in stores and money extracted from customers. Every action is deconstructed to fathom the behaviours of customers, shape future store layouts and minimise costs of lighting and heating systems.

Facial recognition software will identify regular shoppers and offer tailored packages and personalised services to increase spend. Technology will collect data from each visit to tailor the shopping experience for every occasion. Smartmirrors will provide feedback on what customers wear and offer complementary items to fit particular styles and individual wallets. Smart shopping trollies will follow customers around supermarkets and to their cars before returning to wait for the next shopper. They will also read shopping list from smartphones and suggest the best route through the aisles to avoid delays and the old-fashioned nuisance of having to queue.

So, the retail industry will thrive in 2019 but its use of technology will change the shopping experience and create havoc for the businesses that fall behind.