Big investments key to reimagining retail

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A retail renaissance is coming.

That is the view of a new report from Coresight Research, which argues that 2019 will be a year of reinvention, for the retail industry and for retail stores.

“By the end of 2019, we expect to see spectacular new flagships, many more online-to-off-line ventures and smarter supply chains,” writes Coresight founder and chief executive officer Deborah Weinswig. “We also anticipate that companies will embed artificial intelligence across retail functions, yielding improved communications and better experiences for customers, while enabling smarter decisions on inventories and pricing. The result will be a global retail sector that is stronger and better equipped to serve rising consumer expectations.”

The report identifies 10 retail trends for 2019, many of them involving ways that technology will transform the shopping experience for consumers.

For example, the report sees technology as increasingly removing friction from the brick-and-mortar shopping ­experience.

“Retailers will turn to technologies that remove the traditional pain points of brick-and-mortar retail,” the report states. “At the vanguard of this shift will be the burgeoning segment of automated, checkout-free convenience stores.”

Amazon’s cashier-less AmazonGo format is the poster child for this idea in the United States. There have been unconfirmed reports that the company is planning to open as many as 3,000 of the outlets across the country by 2021, and is testing the potential use of the technology in larger formats, possibly including its Whole Foods Market stores. The Coresight report notes that similar checkout-free store concepts have emerged in Asia, including Auchan Minute and BingoBox, where the widespread use of mobile phone apps like WeChat make identifying shoppers and streamlining payment easier.

The report also identifies other tech-related trends for 2019, including other smart store features and retailers’ embrace of artificial intelligence.

The result of these and other developments outlined in the report will be better stores and shopping experiences for consumers. But making them happen will require substantial investments from retailers that are determined to stay relevant.



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