8 retail technology predictions for 2017

Consumer confidence reached new heights in 2016, technology contributed mightily to the retail and ecommerce success. Here are the top tech predictions for retail in the coming year.

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5. Social media will continue to become more shoppable.

Retailers have learned to love consumer-generated content, with photo sharing and hashtags turning into word-of-mouth marketing that works. Now, we’ll begin to see more retailers investing in technology that makes those content experiences more shoppable, says Jim Rudden, CMO of Spredfast. “Instead of having to leave the page or site to search and buy the products they see in photos, consumers will be able to easily click on the content, and purchase the products within, during that moment of discovery,” he says. “Those consumer-generated pieces will take on a whole new life.”

6. Digital convergence will be a big buzzword.

The ecommerce of 2017 and beyond will be all about starting to focus on the convergence of a variety of digital technologies — using voice interfaces, the power of AI and realistic, personalized avatars that support the shopping experience, says Shirley Romig, global retail strategy lead of digital marketing consultancy SapientNitro. “Imagine talking to your personal shopper on the phone and instantly seeing an assortment of dresses you are looking for to wear to your daughter’s graduation,” she says.

“You digitally ‘try on’ the dress using your exact, 3-D image for fit, tell your shopper to size up and check out via voice command.” Ecommerce will evolve to include AI-powered online, personal shoppers that are trained to know preferences, like a favorite store sales associate: “Instead of onerously sorting through pages of product, soon you’ll be able to talk to your AI via your mobile phone and ‘she’ does all the leg work.”

7. 2017 will be the year of the retail API.

APIs have revolutionized industries by bringing consumers apps such as Uber, Google Maps and Pandora — now, retail has started to catch on, says Jett McCandless, CEO of supply chain technology provider project44, though he adds there are still strides to be made in the industry’s widespread understanding and implementation of APIs.

“Retail CIOs will need to understand the impact this technology has on inventory optimization; setting — and meeting — customer delivery expectations; adhering to the demands of today’s always-on consumer and driving real-time visibility across the entire supply chain network,” he says. “Web-service APIs empower retailers to compete in the new on-demand reality by delivering goods in the shortest timeframe possible with the highest level of transparency and operational efficiency.”

[ Related: Apple, Google, Samsung and others betting on mobile payments ]

8. Mobile payments UX will become more seamless.

Retailers know consumers want a seamless shopping experience — and mobile payments technologies are struggling to bridge the gaps. Look for greater consistency in UX across payment platforms in 2017, as well as increased security measures and the introduction of digital verification solutions, says Cody Winton, CEO and co-founder of personal identity platform Credntia.

“There will be efforts to create a more cohesive payments process, and ease fragmentation across platforms and solutions in the FinTech space,” Winton says. “For example, the introduction of a digitally-scanned license or passport at point of sale will create a seamless user experience by allowing consumers to conveniently switch between the mobile wallet or banking app and a digital credential management app, instead of needing a physical wallet.”

Copyright © 2017 IDG Communications, Inc.

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