November 20, 2016
By now, we are all familiar with the visionary future shaped by the Internet of Things, Artificial Intelligence, Robotics and Augmented Reality. Stories of self-driving cars, autonomous home heating systems, and high-tech games dominate the headlines as we make room for Amazon Alexas in the wee corners of our bathrooms. One industry that is flying under the radar is retail. How will Machine Learning, IoT, and AR affect the way we interact with retail?
Skipping the Waiting Line
Digital transformation has changed the traditional buyer's journey entirely. In the past, potential customers were exposed to an ad, and surreptitiously realized that they shared the same problem highlighted in print (awareness). The potential customer then defined their problem and researched various options to solve them (consideration). Finally, the customer advanced to the store to purchase the exact item from the advertisement, or an item similar to it (decision.)
Now IoT devices can gauge when a customer will run out of an item, place an order, and fulfill the needs of the customer without the customer engaging in the buyer's journey. Amazon is spearheading the auto-replenishment trend with wifi-connected “Dash” buttons. When correctly connected to your printer, Amazon will automatically order new ink cartridges when you're running low. By October 2016, Amazon reported receiving more than two orders per minute via Dash Buttons which adds up to over 20,000 orders per week.
Augmented Reality Tailored Shopping Experiences
Unlike Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality doesn’t obstruct the view of our surroundings, it just ‘augments’ the real world with text, images, video, graphics, and in this case: sofas. Virtual reality in retail looks like IKEA’s AR catalog app - where you can project their furniture in your home to see how it looks before you purchase.
Engaging Shopping Experiences
With customers no longer waiting in line for quick supplies that auto-replenishment can send them, shopping has become a more experience-oriented event. Virtual reality platform ShopperMX offers cloud-based VR shopping and retail solutions for clients like Wal-Mart, Nestle, and Kellogg’s to help them create more engaging retail experiences for their customer. A study by Goldman Sachs reports that the VR and AR markets are expected to bring in $80 billion in revenue by 2025, and retail alone is expected to account for $1.6 billion.
Redefining the Buyer’s Journey
"Together, virtual reality and augmented reality are a business machine that allows people to explore products and places, determine how these items work within their lives and, eventually, they'll allow customers to take the next step and complete transactions."
The next decade will be a golden age for consumers: innovative technology gives them a wealth of new, simple, convenient or exciting shopping experiences in various ways.
Machine Learning enables predictions of trends and predicts customer recommendations. Instead of showing the customer a similar leather backpack after placing another in their cart, Machine Learning algorithms can query search data and suggest items that the customer needs to prepare for a weekend getaway.
Machine learning is changing retail for good. Identify your necessities that can be carried out using auto-replenish. Never stand in line for milk or printer ink again.