News Feature | December 19, 2013

Retail IT News For VARs — December 19, 2013

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By Anna Rose Welch, Editor, Biosimilar Development
Follow Me On Twitter @AnnaRoseWelch

Analysts Predict A Very Merry Forecast For Cyber Monday

In the news this week, a study reveals augmented reality is on the rise and analysts share their predictions for 2014’s biggest trends — including personalization and location-based mobile.

Augmented Reality On The Rise

QR Code Press discusses a newly released TechNavio study, which reveals that augmented reality (AR) is set to continue growing at an impressive rate over the next 5 years. According to the study, the AR market will see a compound annual growth rate of 132.2 percent from 2013-2018 as people begin craving more interactive experiences with technology. The increase in AR-enabled mobile apps is being attributed to being the primary reason for the surge in future growth. While AR has primarily been used in the entertainment/gaming realms, AR could someday be used in the retail industry to boost brand engagement.

Ten Retail Trends Predicted for 2014

IDC Retail Insights has released ten predictions for the retail industry in 2014. IDC predicts marketing and advertising technology investments will increase by 50 percent. However, while personalized offers are in-demand, new privacy concerns will lead 50 percent of early adopters to revisit hyper-personalized promotions by 2015. With the rise in omni-channel, 50 percent of retailers will be investing in distributed order management, enterprise inventory visibility, and workforce management to enable same-day fulfillment.

Retailers Won’t See Robots In 2014, But…

Jonathan Levitt for Multi-Channel Merchant believes two trends in particular are set to emerge in 2014: “The rise of the ubiquitous shopper and wide-scale retail automation.” Stores will be using location-based mobile data, back-end customer systems, and customers’ digital and social “footprints” in order to increase personalization. He says that Wi-Fi and GPS, among other opt-in technologies/activities will be used to “recognize” consumers and ensure a more personal shopping experience. Because of the increase in smartphone usage, stores will leverage mobile to help customers navigate stores, learn more about products, and recommend other products. He also says in-store tablet ordering kiosks could become more widely used to aid in the ordering/pickup process.

November Retail Sales Strong, But Future Uncertain

November sales rose by 0.7 percent from October — the largest increase in five months, The Washington Post reports. Sales were up 4.7 percent from the same time last year, with auto sales seeing the largest increase (1.8 percent from the previous month) in November. Consumer confidence has increased, encouraging more people to open their wallets this holiday season. However, analysts are cautious about the future should some consumers be faced with delayed tax refunds, unemployment insurance cuts, and Affordable Care Act costs. Analysts’ outlook for the rest of the holiday shopping experience remains modest, despite November’s strong report.

2014: The Year Of Personalization Initiatives

Like many others before the start of the New Year, Business Insider features a list of five global retail trends that will be hitting stores in 2014. CMO, Bernard Luthi of the Japanese e-commerce company Rakuten predicts increasing social media and personalization efforts on behalf of retailers. Social media — in particular Pinterest — is set to become an invaluable tool for retailers revamping their merchandise and looking to engage and entertain customers. In fact, he also expects to see increasing efforts from retailers to blur the lines between entertainment and shopping. Multimedia content will be key to entertaining shoppers as they browse for and purchase goods. In addition, like Multi-Channel Merchant’s Levitt says, Luthi says stores will be tracking shoppers across platforms throughout the day and sending digital personalized offers as customers enter stores.

Retail IT Talking Points

Derek Thompson for The Atlantic argues that a majority of shoppers still prefer in-store shopping, despite all the news emphasizing the rise in e-commerce. While he says that e-commerce has grown, it still makes up only a “sliver” of the entire retail industry. He says the largest retail categories — including cars, car parts, gas, and food — are areas where e-retailers are uncompetitive or not trying to compete. Similarly, in-store shopping provides customers with a “fully social experience.” While Millennials are a tech-savvy generation and nearly 80 percent shop online, research also shows that nearly 80 percent prefer shopping in stores.

According to William Pentland for Forbes, fashion designers and solar power engineers in the Netherlands have partnered up to explore solar powered clothing. This clothing line called “wearable Solar” uses solar cells on the surface of the fabric that enable wearers to charge their cell phones in roughly two hours. 

Alan Joch for BizTech Magazine provides a checklist for mPOS success for retailers considering implementing a mobile strategy in the near future.

Communispace recently conducted a study entitled, “A Consumer Study: 5 Surprising Holiday Shopping Trends.” In keeping with Thompson’s argument above, 82 percent of shoppers surveyed claimed they would be buying gifts in-store, not online this holiday season. Only a third of responders claimed they’ll be using social media to find their holiday deals this season. The study also found that holiday shopping occurs throughout the year and that print materials still serve as important gift-giving resources.

For more news and insights, visit BSMinfo’s Retail IT Tech Center.