TECHNOLOGY

Top 10 Retail Tech Predictions

BY CSA STAFF

IDC Retail Insights has released its “Worldwide Retail 2018 Predictions” report, which focuses on the mandate for adaptive retail platforms, composable microservices-based applications, and integrated AI-enabled, augmented and connected experiences. IDC Retail Insights has released its “Worldwide Retail 2018 Predictions” report, which focuses on the mandate for adaptive retail platforms, composable microservices-based applications, and integrated AI-enabled, augmented and connected experiences.

“Platforms with a digital core play a central role, but well-thought-out DX (digital transformation) cases will enable organizations to focus on executing against their customer experience objectives in stepwise fashion, staying agile, and adjusting on the fly to continue to serve the customer in their stream of life, above all,” said Leslie Hand, VP, IDC Retail Insights. Attention to consumer need, customer journey patterns, and the ability to maintain customer loyalty by engaging the consumer continually in their context is the key to success.”

Here are the top 10 predictions for 2018 from the analyst team at IDC Retail Insights:

1. By 2019, 50% of retailers will have adopted a retail omnichannel commerce platform, which will enable up to a 30% increase in omnichannel profitability

2. By 2019, the top 30% of retailers will be actively engaged in digital transformation, driving organizational shifts and investment strategies in foundational platform technologies that are cloud based, AI enabled and composable.

3. By 2019, 40% of retailers will have developed a CX architecture supported by an AI layer. Such a platform will enable CX hyper-micro personalization, providing up to a 30% conversion increase and thus up to 25% higher revenue.

4. By 2021, retailers will have embraced geospatial data to drive greater efficiency in omnichannel orchestration, reducing inventory carrying costs by up to 25% across distribution centers and stores.

5. By 2020, more than half of consumers will expect perfect fulfillment execution as a top reason for loyalty to retailers. As a result, retailers will increase their budgets for these technologies by up to 20% to create a fully transparent and user-friendly fulfillment experience.

6. By 2021, 10% of chain retail sales will be created and managed via voice-enabled digital assistants, which will accelerate the predominance of marketplaces for buying everyday goods.

7. In the midst of rapidly evolving cyber-threats and threat actors of increasing sophistication, 75% of retailers will have adopted artificial intelligence–based cyber-defense technologies by 2020.

8. By 2019, 40% of retailers will have begun significant workforce transformation to meet growing pressure to deliver a resonating omnichannel customer experience by breaking down digital-physical engagement silos.

9. By 2020, 20% of retailers will have redesigned PIM/MDM as AI-networks for competitive insights that connect product attributes through social semantics to meaning and purpose in customer contexts, creating actionable insights to unify merchandising and marketing.

10. Through 2021, responding to stakeholders’ experience expectations, retailers that leverage AI, AR, and IoT for employee and customer engagement will see customer satisfaction scores rise by up to 20%, employee productivity rise by up to 15%, and inventory turns rise by up to 25%.

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TECHNOLOGY

Home furnishings chain extends its virtual commerce reach

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Williams-Sonoma is making its 3D app more accessible.

The home furnishings chain launched the Pottery Barn 3D Room View augmented reality (AR) app on iOS for iPhone and iPad. The app is already available for Tango-enabled smartphones on Google Play.

The augmented reality app enables customers to virtually place life-sized, three-dimensional Pottery Barn products in a room, and make purchases directly through their device. Users can virtually stage products in an existing room or start from scratch with an empty room. All items can be moved around the room in real-time, or removed. Users can also change the color and size of merchandise, and all designs can be saved and shared via email.

Customers can enhance their virtual reality experience by scheduling a free design consultation with a Pottery Barn Design Crew expert who can assist with the design process and offer customized suggestions, according to the retailer.

“Our new Pottery Barn 3D Room View app for Pottery Barn puts the latest AR technology in the hands of our customers, and is a key example of how Williams-Sonoma is leveraging innovative technology to enhance customer experience and make the design process easy and fun,” said Felix Carbullido, chief marketing officer, Williams-Sonoma. “It’s also an opportunity to expand our Design Crew offering by giving our design experts a powerful tool to help customers see how Pottery Barn products will look and fit in their space.”

Williams-Sonoma joins a growing list of retailers, from Ikea to Wayfair and Houzz, that are adopting augmented reality to make the design process a digitally enabled, interactive experience. Target also joined these ranks in October, when it launched an augmented reality feature for home décor called “See It In Your Space.”

The expansion of the Pottery Barn 3D Room View app comes on the heels of Williams-Sonoma’s plan to purchase a 3-D imaging and augmented reality startup. The home furnishings retailer will acquire San Jose-based Outward, a company that specializes in replicating physical home furnishings and decor products in high-quality 3D imagery that can be used on retail websites and apps.

Williams-Sonoma will acquire Outward in an all cash deal of $112 million.

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TECHNOLOGY

Amazon: Cyber Monday blows its Prime Day out of the water

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Cyber Monday was Amazon’s single biggest shopping day — even unseating the online giant’s Prime Day shopping event this summer.

Throughout what Amazon calls the “Turkey 5,” or the five shopping days spanning Thanksgiving to Cyber Monday, Amazon customers “worldwide ordered at record levels,” according to the online giant.

Customers ordered “hundreds of millions of products” on Amazon from Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday. Amazon App orders on Cyber Monday increased more than 50% worldwide year-over-year. Meanwhile, between new lower prices on turkeys and Prime members receiving an even deeper discount this year, Whole Foods Market in the U.S. broke its all-time record of turkeys sold during the Thanksgiving season, Amazon reported.

The Echo Dot emerged as Amazon’s biggest seller on Cyber Monday. This is in line with Prime Day, when the device was Amazon’s biggest seller during the online giant’s 30-hour shopping event in July.

Over the Thanksgiving weekend, “Customers purchased millions of Amazon’s Alexa-enabled devices, and Alexa devices were the top sellers across all of Amazon,” Dave Limp, senior VP of Amazon’s devices and services division, said in a CNBC report.

Other Alexa-enabled devices sold from Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday included the Fire TV Stick, the new Echo, and Amazon’s Fire 7 tablet, according to the report.

“Amazon customers shopped at record levels during the Turkey 5, ordering hundreds of millions of products from toys to fashion to electronics and Amazon devices,” stated Jeff Wilke, CEO Amazon’s Worldwide Consumer division. “Customers ordered nearly 140 million items from small businesses alone, and this is just the beginning of the holiday season.”

The online giant is citing Cyber Monday 2017 as its single biggest shopping day in the company’s history, surpassing Prime Day 2017, which generated approximately $1 billion in revenue, according to initial estimates from analysts at Cowen & Co. and JPMorgan Chase & Co. (Some estimates put the total even higher.)

While Amazon did not provide hard sales numbers for Prime Day, the e-retailer said that sales grew by more than 60% compared to last year’s event, with a “record number” of Prime members shopping across 13 countries.

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