Some emerging technology solutions have the ambition and the ability to transform an entire industry - it’s time that the retail sector woke up to the fact that change is coming.
With China’s economy predicted to overtake the USA’s by 2030, we are set to witness an incredible transformation of the world economy.
Billions of people will come out of poverty, populations around the world will have moved from the countryside to cities, and generations of consumers are growing up entirely surrounded by a digital landscape.
Arguably no industry is feeling the effect of these changes as profoundly as retail. Digital technologies are creating a connectivity that is transforming commerce, blurring the distinctions between the physical and digital worlds. And the good news is that the UK is leading the way.
As consumers, Brits spend more per head online than any other economy. This is driving increased investment from retailers in early stage retail technology business, who in turn are building world-beating businesses and capabilities through innovation.
The word innovation itself (in the context of retail) implies that they’re making improvements, inventing new or modernising technology within an existing model, but the fact is that some emerging tech solutions have the ambition and the ability to transform an entire industry.
This happens when careful consideration is given to how the technology impacts shoppers themselves and makes a real change in the way that they shop - take Ocado for example. The company has just turned a profit for the first time in 14 years, but it has done so because of the way its model has appealed to shoppers - rather than the retailers!
Shopitize is another good example of a UK start-up with ambitions to re-invent the retail industry.
It originally started out as a mobile shopping platform for retailers, however the company quickly recognised the incredible opportunity it presented for brands to reach out direct to consumers - empowering them directly with the discounts and promotions they would previously have given to the supermarkets themselves. It has since morphed into a model that’s attractive to over 100,000 shoppers in the UK who now use it to redeem a promotion across any retail destination.
We see countless attempts by retailers to introduce new technology to keep up with, or ahead of, shopper’s demands. But innovation only really gets uptake when a shopper sees the benefit to them. Brands are beginning to reinvent themselves as retailers and the market is going to get even more competitive moving forwards.
It’s time that the retail sector woke up to the fact that change and innovation in the right context, with shoppers front of mind, is coming and we’re going to be seeing plenty of it over the coming years.