10th Annual iQmetrix Summit: Retail Trends for the Next 10

Our iQmetrix News editor, Allan Pulga sat down with our CEO, Christopher Krywulak, iQmetrix's Director of Research and Development, Garett Rogers and John Lund, Head of U.S. Accessories at Brightstar, to discuss game-changing technologies for the next 10 months… and speculate what technologies will shape retail in the next 10 years.

This session explored all the exciting and seemingly crazy possibilities that might have a big impact on the future of retail. Fifteen years ago, Christopher predicted people would one day make purchases on interactive touchscreens. Which predictions will become the next reality?

The topics were selected by popular industry news blogged about by iQmetrix on a daily basis. These are the trends we've observed.

The next 10 months

Mobile Wallet and NFC

Yesterday was big news as Apple launched Apple Pay, its first mobile payment solution. As noted, Christopher had predicted that Apple would make this move and admits he has been bullish on NFC as it gets rid of friction to make these payments easy. Christoper pointed out that Apple takes time to make things right rather than being first to market. Apple waited to get the merchants in place and made sure it had the hardware correct. The company has all the ingrediants to dominate this category. The panel all agreed that Apple may even tip the scale for mobile payments much like it did for music and phones.

Garett - Consumers want a more secure way to pay but the big news here is that Apple was one half of the players here with Google already doing this and making up the other half. So now everybody can support tap to pay technologies for all smart phone devices.  
On the other hand, we have PayPal who is currently having an identiy crisis as they separate from eBay.
John - You can see how much PayPal is struggling. Once Apple Pay becomes the easy technology PayPal will really be in a tough spot. 
Beacons & Location Based Services 
Beacons communicate with devices via BLE and enable retailers to communicate with customers who are near by. 
Garett - BLE has battled concerns over privacy but much of this is misinformation. You can't track people via beacons. They don't broadcast anything but it really does reduce the friction when it comes to communicating with customers. Beacons can tell what the identifier of the beacon is and how far away it is with that sensor. You can create some pretty neat experiences with this. 
Christopher - Beacons bridge digital and physical in a cost effective way. 
Social and Predictive Commerce
This category includes:
  • Amazon - firefly phone feature #AmazonCart 
  • Facebook - buy button
  • Twitter - buy button
  • Instagram - partnered with Like2Buy
  • Pinterest - partnered with Spotify

Predictive commerce should be creepy cool, not creepy creepy. John Lund

John - These services close the sales loop. However, it's a fine line for retailers to walk. It's important for the features/suggestions to be "creepy cool", not "creepy creepy". Retailers need to send the right information to the customer and prove that its actually driving a sale. 
Loyalty apps
Starbucks is the gold standard here but not because it has the best app out there but because Starbucks really put thought into what the app needs to have. Starbucks' app includes gift card integration, paying via app functionality, and the ability to order ahead. 
Walgreens also has award winning app that offers in-stock info, mobile coupons, loyalty rewards, and pharmacy and photo finishing integrations. 
John - A challenge for wireless retailers is creating an app with good tips and information to help people use their phones to its full potential which can help create loyalty for your brand and store. 
Allan - An app can also be less intrusive than emailing customers. They can receive notifications via the app when they want to check it out.
Drop Ship & In-Store Pickup
Drop ship - lets retailers offer extended stock for delivery to customers' homes.
In store pickup - basically the reverse of drop ship.
The benefits retailers can achieve by adding these services include the ability to drive in-store visits, add on sales, etc. and offer customers convenience and an "omnichannel" feel.
John - The beauty is extended shelf. Retailers can't carry all products and nor should they want to carry them all. Working with lots of vendors who will put really cool, higher end items in your store that are just for display and can be shipped the next day can offer new opportunities.
Christoper - We know omnichannel is coming and iQmetrix is ready to enable it with our master Product Library. The ability to reserve online and pick up in store will all be a reality. 

The Next 10 Years

Virtual Reality 
Back in March, Facebook bought Oculus VR, which signals a move towards virtual reality becoming a mainstream technology.  

[Virtual Reality] will be another opportunity to sell stuff. Think virtual mall! Garett Rogers

Garett - I'm really interested in this. Facebook is thinking mass market with Oculus. It really will be another opportunity to sell stuff. Think virtual mall! Or even virtually remodeling your store to test layouts before commiting to physical construction.
Wearables are already available to the average consumer in the form of smartwatches, fitness trackers and even Google Glass but they still need a lot more refinement and functionality for this segment to really take off.
John - Wearables are still a bit of a challenge margin and adoption wise. 
Christopher - The wearables show a lot of churn. People are only using them for 6-9 months but I see this really growing, even over the next year. 
Internet of Things 
The Internet of Things is not just wearables... it's connected devices for your life.  
Connected homes with innovations such as Nest thermostat, connected applicances have huge potential, Apple TV and even connected cars are all just pieces of this revolution.  
John - I'm really excited about these opportunities. There are so many uses that will make life easier. For example, connected homes or connected medical devices can help with things like monitoring aging family members to be able to know about their well being. We can detect falls, if medications have been taken and if health signs are normal. 
The Internet of Things has the potential to connect just about every aspect of our lives. 

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