Top five tech predictions for Australian retailers

In 2019 and beyond.

Australia’s retail sector has encountered challenges in recent years, courtesy of low wage growth, lacklustre consumer spending, digital disruption and online shopping.

Moustache Republic partner and director, Laura Doonin shares some high tech trends and developments that will affect the way business is done, online and in-store.

5G and the virtual shopping mall

The 5G network will shake up the way things are done. The extraordinary increase in performance the network promises to offer – telecoms providers have suggested peak download speeds may, in time, be a whopping 20 times faster than 4G – will see virtual reality and augmented reality become an increasingly standard aspect of the shopping experience.

Expect retailers to begin offering consumers the ability to ‘walk’ through their outlets via mobile device, while simultaneously being able to check the specifications and availability of items. It’s technically do-able now but slow network speeds make it a clunky and less than compelling proposition.

IoT and routine purchases

The Internet of Things (IoT) is growing fast – the number of active connected devices is expected to rise to 10 billion by 2020 and 22 billion by 2025. Many of these smart devices will be smart enough to do consumers’ shopping for them, at least when it comes to generic or repeat purchases. Think the electric toothbrush that can generate its own order for replacement bristles, or the clothes drier that will be able to alert its owner when it’s time to buy a replacement filter.

Voice commerce

Home automation devices which can turn on the lights, play music and answer rudimentary questions are already part of the furniture in a growing number of Australian homes. Users aren’t yet at the point where they’ll delegate the shopping to Google Home or Apple Home but it’s only a matter of time.

The rise of ‘voice commerce’ will see individuals using smart speakers to buy everyday goods, such as pet food, kitchen supplies and basic items of clothing. Will prospective customers use the same key words when ordering a search verbally as they do when typing their request into Google on their phone or computer? If not, retailers may need to rethink their choice of key words or risk losing sales to rivals whose products are better positioned to pop to the top of the oral search results list.

3D printer revolution

3D printers have been around for a while now but they’re yet to go mainstream. As is the case with regular printers, there’ll be one in every household which will be used to stamp out small objects and components on demand – everything from spare parts to toy building blocks.

Blockchain effect

The next 12 months will see blockchain technology find some compelling applications in the retail arena. We’ll see major retailers begin to roll out schemes which allow their customers to convert loyalty points to crypto-currency. There are a number of start-ups championing this technology including Beam, which late last year unveiled plans to launch a network loyalty rewards scheme, and the concept will continue to gain traction as early adopters begin to get on board.

On the supply chain side, blockchain technology will be used to help retailers capture the data they need to provide them with greater control over their often highly complex supply chains. This is likely to usher in an era which has accountability as its hallmark, courtesy of the fact that products will be able to be monitored at every stage of the manufacturing, distribution and marketing process.

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