By Brian Walker
CEO & Founder, Retail Doctor Group
In our previous blog in this two part series, we questioned whether the iPhone will continue to be a part of our lives in the future, looked at emerging technologies that are set to change the behaviour patterns of retailers and consumers and made predictions on the future of technology in retail. Now let’s explore what retailers need to consider to adapt to the technology trends in the marketplace.
Retail Adaptability to Emerging Technology by 2030
Retailers today struggle with legacy business information systems, point of sale systems, trying to get their head around omni-channel and having an omni-presence on the web. Together with the changing retail ecosystem and needing new architecture to support all this, trying to get their head around the logistics of this can all be quite frustrating.
Jason Greenwood is the founder of Greenwood Consulting, a New Zealand-based brand consultancy. Jason deals with these issues on a daily basis. Some of the questions he fields include:
- What does the technology stack need to look like?
- What does the data look like?
- How will this change affect the people, the processes, the organisational design, all the rest?
A lot of retailers get in a tug of war between looking at the latest trends like Web3, new and emerging channels, social commerce, marketplaces, and everything else. Yet when you look under the bonnet, they’re running their entire business out of spreadsheets!
To execute successfully on current sales and marketing channels, these retailers will need to completely re-engineer their business and technology stack just to be able to operate under the extreme dichotomy and divergence happening in the market at the moment. They’re going to need a next-gen ERP, CDP, PIM.
They’ll need a new warehouse management system and a new order management system so their business models can support click-and-collect, but also hybrid and omni- channel models, loyalty benefits, subscription and membership programs, and more.
Onboarding a new channel like a marketplace is an expensive exercise. It’s also a time-consuming one. And the reality is that many of these retailers – whilst they’ve made great strides over the 24 months or so – are still not there yet.
For others, it’s a knowledge gap. They don’t necessarily know exactly how to do it or how to build a business case to do it, either. How would they even set benchmarks they’d need to meet as a business to say whether this new channel was a success or not?
If you’re a business or a retailer that can’t easily onboard current channels – both marketing and transactional – then Web3 is not your destination. Certainly keep an eye on it and be aware of it, but start educating yourself and your teams. Learn as much as you can in this starter phase.
“One foot in the present, one foot in the future” ~ Jason Greenwood
Maybe even invest in a small amount of cryptocurrency. You don’t need to go and break the bank because you’re not trying to become a millionaire on it. But, go and sign up with Coinbase, or one of the major global cryptocurrency exchanges. Dabble in it.
Buy a few bucks’ worth of cryptocurrency and sit on it for a while, watching the trends. See what’s happening and where you can use it. That’s where the market is going, and you don’t want to miss out.
Let’s talk about Amazon, and fiercely staunch brands that live on the platform:
- They’re born, grow up, and die on Amazon, without ever having sold a single thing across any other channel.
- They have backend systems that are 100% Amazon centric.
- They use FBA as their fulfilment system.
- They never move outside of the Amazon ecosystem.
In a future world, Amazon, Facebook, and Apple (for instance) will offer their versions of a Metaverse. This will result in platformisation, just like it did with e-commerce. And that helped create Shopify, Big Commerce, Magenta, Salesforce Commerce, and the Cloud.
Either these platforms themselves, or new platforms that we haven’t even heard of yet, will allow brands to create their own commerce Metaverse people can step into and enjoy, complete with building block components and turnkey systems, just like Shopify does today.
Parallel Universes, Integrated Universes, and Metaverses
The Metaverse experience for users is set to be quite similar to the browsers of today: 10 tabs open all at once. And within that experience, you may be in Amazon, a branded website, and a social platform, while being a part of one brand’s experiences in all 3 of those tabs at once.
You might be in the Amazon store, while in Amazon’s social feed, and while also being on the Amazon website. You’ll be comparing prices and experiences across all three platforms.
Or, you might be walking through the mall with augmented reality glasses, without your iPhone. This is an integrated environment, where you’ll be in a physical environment, but also integrating in real time with the Metaverse.
This is your digital ecosystem.
And the currency in which you’ll transact with will be entirely up to the provider or yourself. There will be cryptocurrency. There will be classic currency. There will be, in fact, the whole world’s currencies, too.
The Consumer’s Ultimate Advantage
It is a remarkable world that awaits us, indeed.
For the consumer, the ultimate advantage is a combination of physical retail experiences combined with VR bodysuits and systems within a digital 3D environment.
Another huge advantage is the convenience and amount of time saved not traveling across town to visit a physical mall. Consumers are going to be able to jump from one virtual mall to another in a split second.
Within that virtual mall environment, consumers are going to have experiences that are uniquely Metaverse, the kind that you won’t be able to get any other way. In other words, you’re going to be able to experience products and see a level of detail on products unlike any other interactive experience to date.
You’re going to be able to interact with others on a social level, and with the brand, in ways that you can even fully appreciate yet. Unfortunately, most shopping experiences in this new Metaverse are currently just poor attempts at almost recreating, like for like, the physical retail store and brands.
Given the crazy things that can be done with virtual 3D experiences and 3D spaces, just recreating a physical shop is not a sustainable future-forward strategy. There is much room to play with the whole Metaverse concept in retail. This technology is a game-changer, so why is the game not changing in-store yet?
The accelerant is technology. The so-called human instinct to socialise, to be part of a community, and to belong will prevail, even though much of what is described here is obviously quite singular in nature.
For the older generations, the loss of physical contact with each other is a far-fetched idea. For the younger generations, it is not. This generational change involves not just Millennials who grew up with devices glued to their hand their whole life, but also later generations, people who have spent more than 3 hours a day on social media, the internet, and online shopping environments.
Those who have embraced technology for the massive evolutionary advantage it is will eventually get to a place where VR and the Metaverse become so default to their behavioural experiences that they’ll spend greater and greater amounts of time in the Metaverse versus the real world.
The rest of us? I’m not so sure. There’s a slight dystopian aspect to this. Ultimately, what an amazing world to be entering into. But first… we need to look at a world without the iPhone.
Brian Walker is the founder and CEO of Retail Doctor Group, a retail advisory and consultancy group and the Australian elected partner member of the global retail expert’s alliance Ebeltoft Group. As an internationally renowned retail expert and experienced retail speaker, Brian understands what makes retailers and brands successful. Want to learn more about the future of retail? Contact us on +61 2 9460 2882 or firstname.lastname@example.org.