Retail tech – just another buzzword?

Blogg

You´ve all heard a lot about FinTech and probably also about EduTech and MedTech. So is Retail Tech the new black? Well, after visiting Postnords e-commerce conference “E-handelsforum 2017” in Borås, Sweden, I´d say that the retail industry is really a hot spot right now. Here are some insights from the experts on the day.

Delivery is the differentiator
Even if “Brand name” + “Cheap” is still the most used search phrase on the big market platforms such as Amazon, the trend of consumers prioritizing convenience over low price seems to continue and get stronger. Overnight – or even same day – delivery is not a competitive edge anymore; this is what the consumer expects. To meet this growing demand Postnord revealed that they will be starting with deliveries on Saturdays as well. But speed is not the only factor; flexibility is an even stronger trend. The possibility for the consumer to control when and where the package will be delivered is the next big thing. And with “inside the house” delivery the consumer controls the delivery all the way through the front door. With a digital lock on your front door you allow the postman to enter your home with a one-time code. Of course it would be a much more convenient and secure solution to use an eID for this purpose, so something like Freja eID would be a natural extension for this kind of solution.

Trust is the next big step
Jessie Baker from the block chain company Provenance pointed out trust as the next big step in the digital transformation. She envisions a future where the consumer can track the product all the way through the supply chain and be assured that the production is sustainable and – not least – that the product is not a fake copy or the site is not phony. She suggests block chain technology as the solution of putting a trust layer on the internet, which in turn will open up new business models online.

Even more convenience
The demand for convenience does not only relate to fast and flexible delivery. The shopping experience must be smooth and Charlotte Svensson, with a background from the Swedish media giant Bonniers showed a great example from the news industry. When transforming Sweden´s most renowned newspaper DN to a digital service they made everything by the book with great content generating a huge interest from the audience. Still, converting readers to paying subscribers went slow. Why? They used a complicated registration process that required the reader to answer many different questions to become a subscriber. The solution was a one click buy with a solution from the payment innovator Klarna and the conversions simply skyrocketed (see image above). And if you think that it can’t be more convenient than just one click, look at Domino´s Pizza. In their app they have launched the “Zero click buy”. When you open the app it automatically orders your favorite pizza if you don’t stop the ticker within ten seconds. However, you still need to eat the pizza yourself.

AI, ML and AR is still bubbling
You can´t go to a tech conference these days without artificial intelligence, machine learning, augmented reality being discussed. However, I´d say it is still early days, at least when it comes to the more futuristic visions of AR shopping environments and AI chat bots. About bots by the way, Kyle Lacy from Lessonly revealed why all of the AI assistants have female names. The reason we have Siri, Alexa and Amy instead of Steve, Andy and Aron is that men apparently – according to research that Kyle referred to – perceives instructions from male assistants as harsh orders while instructions from female assistants are perceived as helpful. If it´s true it’s a bit sad that we bring the old structures of gender inequality into the digital revolution. But that’s perhaps another story and it shouldn’t stop you from trying the cool new assistants out there. I´m definitely going to try the scheduling assistant Amy at www.x.ai

To summarize, Retail Tech definitely deserves the hype and a lot of exciting solutions will emerge in the industry in the near future.

2017-09-29
Kristofer von Beetzen
VP Marketing, Verisec