The retail sector is dynamic and ever-evolving. New challenges are spurring retailers to ongoing optimization efforts. Anticipated statistics suggest that approximately 70% of retail operations will achieve full automation by 2025. The development of retail technology is becoming an important condition for survival in the market.
The future of retail stores is closely linked to AI, robotization, VR, AR, the Internet of Things, contactless shopping, drone delivery, etc. These disruptive innovations in the retail industry are set to create unrivaled customer experiences. It’s no surprise they have rightfully made their way into all the latest reviews of the future retail industry trends.
In my article, we invite you to dive into retail trends that will impact retailers themselves. These emerging emphases are to reshape most processes for the foreseeable future of retail management.
Trend #1: Integral ecosystems are going to replace disparate tools
Engaging with companies across diverse countries and retailing sectors, we have noticed a recurring picture. Over the years, companies have created a mosaic of IT tools that are unfriendly among themselves and incapable of supporting business development. It often includes:
- ERP systems upgraded to accommodate new tasks,
- bespoke software tailored to specific company needs,
- specialized programs from various vendors.
According to recent surveys, 50% of retailers cite the integration of technology systems as a significant internal barrier. Faced with this technological cacophony, more and more companies decide to move from standalone systems to holistic platforms. Unlike the disjointed approach, cohesive ecosystems provide enhanced visibility and accelerate decision-making through immediate data exchange. Hence, embracing comprehensive, all-in-one platforms like Leafio with seamlessly integrated systems is poised to be a strategic advantage for the future of retailing.
Trend #2: Mobile apps are expanding from shoppers to retailers
A mobile app for online shopping is no longer a surprising concept for most people. These essential widgets on our phone screens not only expedite selecting and receiving goods but also offer personalized deals and engaging gamification elements. However, what about the retailers themselves? Picture having a dashboard right on your phone, giving you a snapshot of your division or entire business in the palm of your hand. This tech trend is quickly becoming a go-to tool for today’s top executives.
It’s challenging for us to envision the future of retail without the seamless integration of mobile applications for handling business processes. As the retail landscape evolves, the easy access and immediate control provided by mobile applications are set to be crucial for businesses to navigate the dynamic market successfully.
Trend #3: AI will further dictate changes in retail
The retail of the future is hard to imagine without AI and ML technologies. However, I see a significant gap in the AI adaptation depending on the business size and localization. For instance, while small and medium-sized product retailers are just beginning to explore AI for tasks like demand forecasting and shelf optimization, industry titans integrate computer vision with robotic technologies in their contactless stores.
It has become evident that retailers are no longer wondering whether to implement AI in their business processes—the question concerns choosing the right solutions for their current business size and tasks. Therefore, next year, we do not see the emergence of strikingly revolutionary retail technologies.
Instead, it will be dedicated to advanced companies continuing to experiment and mix existing innovative solutions. Smaller companies should try to address the lack of basic business process automation and finally “make friends” with AI tools.
Trend #4: Retail Sector Continues Focusing on Supply Chain Efficiency
While global retail players leverage the Internet of Things for real-time goods tracking, a significant gap exists, with many retailers still lacking current stock levels. It’s no wonder inventory management automation emerges as a pressing concern for respondents of the latest research, signaling a pivotal focus for the years ahead.
Building sustainable supply chains is undoubtedly the short or long-term future strategy of at least every other retailer. Companies are migrating from legacy ERP and in-house systems to specialized software. According to my observations, the demand for AI-based automated inventory management systems has multiplied over the last few years and will continue to grow.
The market for TMS (Transportation Management Systems) is also expected to skyrocket, which speaks to retailers’ desire to solve the issue of inefficient supply chains.
Trend #5: Personal AI assistants will become a vital innovation in retail
When talking about the future of retail stores, there is now a lot of discussion about personal assistants for shoppers that, based on AI algorithms, offer them unrivaled service and support. What if we told you that AI-based assistants will soon become indispensable helpers for retailers in managing certain functions or entire companies?
Indeed, AI/ML-powered prompts are set to revolutionize operational management and KPI tracking. Harnessing sophisticated IA algorithms, these personal assistants analyze vast datasets, interpret complex patterns, and deliver ready-made insights for operational and strategic management. C-levels, for example, can effortlessly monitor inventory levels, track sales performance, and make informed decisions on the go. This transformative technology promises opportunities in retail that make management and control available at the fingertips and ensure agility in an ever-evolving market.
Despite seeming predictability, there is no denying that future trends in retailing may be influenced by new market challenges, as we have seen before. However, the technological shift of recent years has made the retail sector more agile and resilient to disruption.
Therefore, we see process optimization and automation as some of the main conditions to survive and thrive in today’s volatile retail environment. Undoubtedly, a smart strategy for retailers will be to re-evaluate traditional approaches and established business processes. While industry giants will continue their innovative experiments, mid-sized and smaller retailers will cautiously adapt new technologies, dismantling outdated and inefficient structures and implementing sophisticated ecosystems that utilize artificial intelligence and machine learning capabilities.