We never thought technology could transform a conventional and an
age-old domain like retail. With the advent of 2016, the domain saw new
solutions like chatbots and artificial intelligence interacting with people.
The entire idea is two-folded; to optimize the supply chain and storage, and to
improve customer experience at every level. Retailers are already spending a
lot in technology- Walmart invested more than $10.5BN in 2015. In the next few
years, we will witness more and more retailers investing heavily in technology,
whether it is robotics, drones or virtual assistants.
may seem a little surprising that robotics is mentioned here as in
actuality robotics is still a far-fetched dream in most domains, but
robotics has become a common in the retail sector; predominantly used in
the supply chain. Amazon currently has more than 45,000 robots assisting
them in their warehouses. We are now expecting the use of robotics to
expand its role outside the supply chain too, perhaps in the stores,
having a more client-facing role- in the check-out counter, for
deliveries, assisting people to find products, simplifying their shopping
experience. Lowes is already working on similar lines in their innovation
E-commerce Anti-Fraud Tools: The use of EMV chip cards became prevalent in 2016, and sooner
they started using it to fight in-store fraud. The next bigger problem to
tackle was e-commerce fraud. In the last couple of years, the industry saw
a few ant-fraud tools that use artificial intelligence, machine learning
to identify fraud signals and patterns and to anticipate frauds and
prevent them from occurring. Some of the companies working in this segment
are Mastercard and Stripe. We are expecting more companies to use
different tools to fight fraud in the upcoming year, including innovative
methods too- like tokenization agreements.
Drone Delivery: By far the most exciting thing to happen in the retail sector,
other sectors have already started using drones as much as possible, but
the hinderance being the stringent government regulations. In the retail
sector, Flirtey and 7-eleven have already taken advancements in this
direction making successful deliveries in different regions in the US.
While Amazon once led the race in drone deliveries, it has not gotten far,
however, it did receive a patent award for an airborne fulfilment blimp.
It has experienced some success in the U.K region as the government
regulations are comparatively less stringent to U.S region.
Virtual/Digital Assistants: We are familiar with Siri, Cortana or Alexa, and we know this is
not a new trend. However, the intelligence level and the utility level are
expected to grow to a whole new level to have an impact like never before.
Apple, Amazon, IBM and Microsoft are already amongst the leaders but
companies like Samsung and Nokia have also shown interest in this field.
Amazon’s Alexa has gone the distance by not just answering simple
questions. With Alexa, it is possible for refrigerators to order groceries
for us directly. This has drawn big brands like LG to integrate Alexa into