We’ll all look back on it as the Amazon revolution, I guess, but revolutions come thick and fast in the business and technology world these days. Just a couple of years ago, futurists saw retail being swallowed up wholesale by eCommerce. Discover products online, buy them online, get them delivered to your door — by mail, truck, or even drone.
Goodbye brick and mortar, right?
Wrong. Physical retail is back like never before (and maybe you noticed Amazon acquiring a vast tranche of brick and mortar real estate, better known as Whole Foods). But it’s not your grandfather’s or grandmother’s retail (although, honestly, small-scale, personal-touch niche retail looks as solid as ever too). It’s a digitally connected retail environment.
Thanks to the usual suspects — mobile, IoT, and, underlying them both, the cloud — there is no longer a meaningful distinction between brick and mortar retail and eCommerce. Or at least, that distinction is fading fast. If you’re carrying a mobile device, retailers can serve relevant content to you at home, in transit, and in the store itself. Smart kiosks will capture your in-store image (with your permission) and make recommendations based on AI-powered analysis of your age, gender, and even fashion sense. You can have the experience — still meaningful — of handling the product you want to buy in-store, and making a mobile purchase for home delivery.
The opportunities are endless once the entire physical retail environment has been digitized (again, in a transparent and permission-based way). This week on DMN, we’re taking some peeks at the retail future. How much is that robot in the window?