Dig­i­tal shop­ping is about to change

Here are five ways how

Toronto Star - - SBJ - HOLLY SHIVELY

DAY­TON, OHIO— Con­sumers can be­gin an­tic­i­pat­ing what their shop­ping ex­pe­ri­ence will look like in 2019.

Re­tail­ers con­tinue to evolve in a highly com­pet­i­tive world where de­liv­ery, cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence and con­ve­nience can make or break a store, forc­ing some into bank­ruptcy and oth­ers on an up­ward trend with grow­ing sales.

Here are five things to look for­ward to in re­tail next year, mostly in­volv­ing tech­nol­ogy: 1. More on­line gro­cery shop­ping De­spite only 2 to 4.3 per cent of gro­cery sales hap­pen­ing on­line now, in­dus­try ex­perts ex­pect the dig­i­tal sales to reach 20 per cent of the to­tal gro­cery mar­ket by 2025. As more re­tail­ers add third-party de­liv­ery com­pa­nies such as Shipt and In­stacart, con­sumers will in­creas­ingly or­der on­line.

This in­cludes both de­liv­ery and or­der­ing on­line to pick up in store. It’s also ex­pected that so­cial-me­dia plat­forms such as In­sta­gram will con­tinue dis­cov­er­ing new ways to con­vince con­sumers to buy on­line. 2. Voice re­tail Ex­perts say shop­pers will in­creas­ingly pick up voice shop­ping through smart­phones, Ama­zon de­vices and ve­hi­cles.

Con­sumers with Alexa-en­abled de­vices are al­ready able to pur­chase their gro­ceries, home goods and gifts through Ama­zon and Whole Foods Mar­ket. But other re­tail­ers are start­ing to get in on the ac­tion.

Kroger re­cently an­nounced plans to roll out voice or­der­ing through Alexa-en­abled de­vices and Ama­zon has re­leased soft­ware that al­lows de­vel­op­ers to in­te­grate Alexa in ve­hi­cle in­fo­tain­ment sys­tems. 3. More pri­vate la­bels Dozens of re­tail­ers in­clud­ing Tar­get, Kroger, Wal­mart, Aldi and Ama­zon have ex­panded pri­vate la­bel of­fer­ings this year.

Pri­vate la­bels are no­to­ri­ous for adding ex­clu­siv­ity that builds cus­tomer loy­alty, all while keep­ing profit mar­gins high with­out sup­pli­ers tak­ing their cuts. Many of the re­tail­ers have passed the sav­ings to the con­sumer with low-cost pri­vate la­bels that are in­creas­ingly grow­ing in pop­u­lar­ity. 4. Growth in ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence Re­tail­ers have used ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence to learn con­sumer and mar­ket habits. The tech­nol­ogy be­comes in­creas­ingly ben­e­fi­cial for on­line re­tail­ers look­ing to up­sell with­out a phys­i­cal sales­per­son. Dif­fer­ent sub­scrip­tion ser­vices such as Stitch Fix and Kid box have used AI to an­a­lyze sub­scriber data to rec­om­mend prod­ucts that in­crease rel­e­vance and are more likely to be pur­chased.

Re­tail­ers are try­ing to use AI to ex­pand hol­i­day shop­ping ear­lier as well, learn­ing what con­sumers will want most around the hol­i­days as early in the year as pos­si­ble. The in­tel­li­gence can help spread out or­ders so de­liv­ery sys­tems won’t be­come as con­gested close to the hol­i­days. 5. More in­ter­ac­tive aisles As con­sumer shop­ping habits shift to favour ex­pe­ri­ence, re­tail­ers are scram­bling to find ways to draw crowds into stores. In 2019, aug­mented re­al­ity and vir­tual re­al­ity are likely to take a stronger foothold in all types of brick-and-mor­tar stores.

Ohio-based Marx­ent has de­vel­oped aug­mented re­al­ity tech­nol­ogy for Macy’s to show how fur­ni­ture could look with­out have to pur­chase the items.

“Those who haven’t in­vested in AR as of yet are go­ing to ... prob­a­bly spend 2019 scram­bling to catch up,” said Beck Besecker, founder and CEO of Marx­ent.

DREAMSTIME

In­dus­try ex­perts an­tic­i­pate that dig­i­tal sales will com­prise about 20 per cent of the to­tal gro­cery mar­ket by 2025.

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