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13 Big Retail Tech Trends To Watch For In 2021
Article posted in Forbes.com on March 8, 2021
From the Forbes Technology Council post in Forbes.com entitled: 13 Big Retail Tech Trends to Watch For in 2021
While e-commerce has been on the rise since its inception, the unprecedented events of 2020 caused it to skyrocket as consumers avoided the risks of in-person shopping. As people continue to work and shop online in 2021, retail tech shows no sign of slowing down anytime soon.
With that in mind, those in the e-commerce sphere should keep an eye on new and emerging industry trends to stay competitive. Below, the members of Forbes Technology Council share 13 retail tech trends to watch for in 2021.
1. AI-Based Inventory Management Systems
The traditional approach to customer satisfaction focuses on increasing inventory rather than increasing product availability. There is a rising interest in strengthening inventory management systems with AI-based tools that not only make demand forecasts more accurate but also improve a retailer’s ability to satisfy a customer who walks in the door, whether physically or online. - Taresh Grover, mySupplier
2. E-Commerce Marketplaces
Marketplaces are the natural evolution of the stand-alone Web store. They benefit all parties engaged in e-commerce. Buyers are getting overwhelmed with too many stores and options, and sellers are struggling to get their customers’ attention. With marketplaces, buyers can find and compare products and check out, all while staying within a single platform. Sellers gain access to buyers they might otherwise miss. - Yoav Kutner, Oro Inc.
3. Data Analytics For Cost And Safety Management
Store operations are now a C-suite concern for retailers, from cleanliness to reconfiguring layouts for customer and employee safety. This requires financial discipline, and in 2021 we’ll see a focus on using data to manage and predict costs. Whether it’s maximizing contractor value or documenting sanitation for compliance purposes, data analytics will define store management in the year ahead. - Tom Buiocchi, ServiceChannel
4. Agile Marketing Strategies
As some stores remain closed, retailers need to examine how they can enhance the digital customer experience. Multichannel retailers need to convince people to shop both online and in-store. They also must stand out from the competition, especially online-only retailers, which is essential for survival. To do this, retailers must quickly respond to market developments and apply agile marketing strategies. - Mirko Holzer, BrandMaker
5. Pop-Up Shops And In-Store Experiences
People are hungry for real-life experiences. Physical retail stores should not be thought of as the primary way to sell or even as a location to warehouse things; instead, they are marketing opportunities. With this in mind, pop-up shops and in-store experiences—tactile, scent and sound-based as well as those featuring expensive tech—will be showcased to drive sales and awareness online. - Joaquin Lippincott, Metal Toad
6. Collaborative Analytics
E-commerce businesses must contend with Amazon, which has much more information about consumers, enabling them to better serve customers with personalization. To compete, e-commerce companies need to build collaborative analytics systems that rely on data sets across multiple companies to gain insight into the complete customer journey, thereby enabling them to activate personalized customer journeys themselves. - Anneka Gupta, LiveRamp
7. AI-Driven Operations
Retailers will begin to discover more ways to use AI to support their e-commerce efforts and provide better online experiences for their customers. We’re going to start seeing AI-driven customization of product descriptions and marketing copy—even crowdsourced product design enabled by AI technology. - Divyabh Mishra, CrowdANALYTIX
8. Shopping And Payment Apps
Retailers are enabling in-store customers to scan their items and check out using an app, without the need for going through a checkout line. Sam’s Club has already achieved this across all their stores, and Walmart is implementing it in phases. This will provide a safe and contactless experience for those who shop in the store. Consumers will also be able to buy online, schedule pick-up and then collect their purchases in the store or through curbside delivery—all powered by a mobile app. - Selva Pandian, DemandBlue
9. In-House Robotic Delivery
With in-house robotic delivery, retailers will deliver products anywhere, not just to houses or official addresses. You will snap a picture and the delivery service (humans first, then robotics) will deliver your order to the location the picture shows. The standard is no longer last-mile delivery but last-meter delivery. - Ayman Shoukry, Specright Inc.
10. Grocery Delivery
Online grocery ordering, along with instant delivery of fresh food, will explode in 2021. This will lead to more opportunities in logistics, gamification and security regarding the timing of deliveries and ensuring the fresh food gets delivered in a reasonable time to the correct person. - WaiJe Coler, InfoTracer
11. Payment Card Cybersecurity Software
Payment card cybersecurity software—particularly using AI—is one trend that is already exploding. The surge in e-commerce is also leading to an uptick in hackers trying to steal credit and debit card information via phishing, malware and a variety of other methods. The use of AI cybersecurity software will augment human infosec teams to help combat payment data fraud and theft. - John Shin, RSI Security
12. More Retail Mobile Apps
I believe we will see more retailers creating mobile apps for their customers in 2021. There are plenty of unique benefits business owners can offer through an app. You can give out exclusive discounts, allow access to beta features and provide exclusive content. Companies across all industries can bring more value to their customers with this strategy. - Thomas Griffin, OptinMonster
13. Local E-Commerce
2021 will see the rise and acceleration of local e-commerce, as more small businesses “close to home” will shift to platforms such as Shopify. Ride-sharing services such as Uber and Lyft may introduce courier services that enable these businesses to offer fast delivery. The toolsets of big e-commerce players such as Amazon will finally reach the hands of small, local businesses—and we’ll all benefit from it. - Marc Fischer, Dogtown Media LLC