Brain-computing, AR and legal shoplifting set to change the face of commerce predicts Salmon

In the face of the ongoing disruption in the retail market, Salmon, a Wunderman Commerce company has released its ‘Futures 2019 Report’ to help prepare retailers and brands for the key trends shaping the future of commerce. 

Here are five of the core technologies and trends that are set to affect the world of commerce and how it will look in the future:

1. The face-less brand and its impact on equity

The traditional identifiers of brands are becoming much less visible, following the rise of voice commerce, and the growth in marketplaces (e.g. Amazon and eBay), both of which have minimal branding and allow for automated purchasing. As a result, brands must be more inventive in how they create and retain equity in a world where they are no longer seen. With brand only the third most important decision-making factor for shoppers, it’s imperative that brands review how they are represented on their different channels and the ways in which they engage with customers. Brands are not dead, but blindly pursuing the traditional brand equity creation approach is set to shrink their future. 

2. Legal shoplifting

New forms of transactions are making the payment journey increasingly seamless and are bridging the gap between online and offline purchasing. The Amazon Go concept, which does away with the check out, could be coming to the UK this year. In preparation, retailers and brands need to identify better, faster, frictionless and more innovative ways to check out. In an ideal world, this would mean removing check outs entirely. This is the key to increasing their number of total transactions.

3. Native AR – now at the touch of a button

Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR) and Mixed Reality (MR) have had attention for years, but they have not done much in the world of commerce. But this is changing; retailers and brands can now use this technology thanks to AR’s integration into the browser. Companies no longer need to build expensive apps, and customers are no longer required to download them in order to take advantage of the possibilities of AR. This development means that AR will become more mainstream and integrated into online sites and accessed simply with the click of a button. However, as with lots of online experiences, they’re only as good as the content that can be accessed. But if a brand or retailer has 3D models of its products already, then using AR is only a few simple steps away.

4. From “pure-play” to bricks and mortar “data-play”

With pure-plays being inherently versed in data, and experts in its utilisation, we will see them bring their data-based knowledge from online to bricks and mortar, to revolutionise the physical world of retail. Despite the popularity of eCommerce, the fact remains that customers still shop in the in-store world. Our research indicates that 24% of online shoppers continue to want a physical experience when they shop. But what shoppers want, and what they get, are often very different things when it comes to in-store shopping. Recently, Amazon opened its 4-star stores in New York and California and their stock is made up exclusively of products that have received 4 or more stars online. Ultimately, it is using its online customers to curate its physical store stock, and in so doing, providing assurance to a generation of shoppers versed in “showrooming”. 

5. It’s the thought that counts – the brain computer interface

Looking past voice and zero UI (user interface), the next stage is the ultimate zero-UI, where the brain-computer interface will shortcut the time from thought to action and revolutionise how we shop. In 2017, Facebook predicted that within the next few years its developers would create a system that would let users type with their thoughts three times faster than they could type with a smartphone keyboard. Fast forward to 2019, and while we are not quite there yet, Facebook is building brain-computer interfaces for typing and “skin hearing”, and the current tech allows for about 8 words per minute to be typed. While other companies like Nissan have trialled using BCI to predict what a user will do whilst driving, to gain vital milli-seconds of advantage for safety. Although it isn’t a technology that will be rolled out just yet (as most of these advances require invasive surgery), it won’t be too long until consumers only have to think about what they want to order online, and it will turn up at their door.

Commenting on the future technologies, Hugh Fletcher, Global Head of Innovation and Consultancy at Salmon, a Wunderman Commerce company said: “The commerce landscape is changing rapidly, and retailers are struggling to keep up. It’s no easy task to decipher which technologies currently in development will be relevant for their business in years to come. Exciting new innovations such as brain-computing may be in their infancy, but they should still be on the radar for retailers; those who are the first to take advantage of cutting-edge tech within commerce will be the ones to reap the benefits. 

“Brands, organisations and retailers need to have multiple strands to their strategies spanning the short, medium and long term. The retail innovators are thinking far into the future. If we just leave this thinking to them, they will be the ones to rule the future of commerce. By understanding the wider and longer-term trends however, brands and retailers can begin to invest in the infrastructure they will need today, which will enable them to deliver the commerce experiences their customers will be demanding in the future.”

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