This sponsored post is produced by Bernard Luthi, CMO and COO of Rakuten.com shopping.
As we all become much more tech-savvy in our daily lives, the pace of technological change is not just expected but welcomed. New innovations launched by leaders like Apple and Google as well the previously unknown startups like Nest and Fitbit offer consumers and businesses a glimpse of the technology that will shape their lives, homes, and retail experience.
Emerging technology has become ever more evident to the traditional retail journey, with an increasing move to mobile shopping channels and social shopping discovery sites as well as a multichannel customer-service experience and products funded and launched via crowdfunding. We are at a tipping point – traditional brick-and-mortar stores have suffered, and only the most nimble retail giants that have been quick to embrace new tech trends and consumer buying habits are expected to survive.
So, what’s next? While it’s impossible to invest in every new technology, a few tech trends have caused a stir this year — in fact, they might just change retail as we know it today.
3D printers are being made for the consumer. Like a standard printer, they can fit on a desktop and retail for less than $1000. While this is exciting for consumers, it poses a risk for retailers. Consumers will soon be able to print almost anything, on their own, for less than the retail cost. So the challenge for retailers is to understand the impact this could have on business and instead find ways to capitalize on this revolutionary technology before it is too late.
The Internet of things
The Internet of Things — smart devices connected over the Internet in order to share information — are also becoming increasingly popular. Google’s recent acquisition of smart home technology company Nest indicates that we could see the Internet of things become commonplace even sooner than we might think. While a connected home might not be on everyone’s wish list right now, before long it will be the new standard. Retailers will need to modernize their products in order to sustain against agile startups in their industry.
The emergence of wearable technology — from smart watches to activity tracking fitness bands and even glasses — is beginning to make the leap from “geeky gadget” into a societal norm. (Key word: beginning.) Not only are more people purchasing these devices, but these will also enable consumers to buy even more by way of virtual browsing. Google Glass offers interesting new ways for retailers to provide relevant information to shoppers by way of augmented reality. And wearable technology is a virtual goldmine for location-based marketing, providing retailers the opportunity to market people at the right place, at the right time.
The innovations highlighted above won’t transform retail as we know it overnight, but ultimately these trends will continue to evolve more and penetrate deeper into the average consumer’s daily lives. Accepting and accommodating to the changes will be a key success factor for all, especially online, retail businesses.
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