This article is part of Raydiant’s new Future of Retail series which interviews the world’s leading retail experts to better understand how the industry has evolved and most importantly, where’s it’s headed.
The following is from a recent interview with the CEO of Omni Talk and Third Haus Christopher Walton.
What personally excites you the most about the retail industry?
CW: What excites me the most is that the industry has finally reached a tipping point. Retailers, across the board, appear to be giving e-commerce its just due and now understand how vital it is in establishing long-term relationships with their customers. As a result, the next three to five years should bring with them a bevy of innovation.
What has been the most dramatic change you’ve seen in the industry over the past 3-5 years?
CW: The most dramatic change has been what we have seen happen to physical retailers whose only real value propositions were that they just had large selections of products in convenient locations. When people know what they want to buy, going to a store to simply get something they can get from Amazon is now more inconvenient than going to a store. This is one of the reasons why Toys R Us died, and also why we will see department stores like Macy’s and many specialty stores suffer a similar fate. If a retailer can’t offer a compelling reason to go to a store beyond the mere products it sells, it will be fighting an uphill battle for the long-term.
What are the top trends you see shaping brick and mortar retail in the next 3-5 years?
CW: There are a number of trends to which I am paying close attention, specifically: 1) computer vision and its applications in checkout-free retail and better customer experiences 2) hyperlocal micro fulfillment 3) the evolution of social commerce, for which Glossier is a great case study.
What technology do you believe will have the biggest impact on the retail industry in the next 3-5?
CW: 100% computer vision. Computer vision will impact many aspects of retailers operations from website efficiency, inventory and pricing accuracy, to checkout-free system designs. Computer vision is coming and is essentially the same technology used to power autonomous vehicles, and yet the concept of autonomous vehicles is much more difficult to solve. Computer vision, therefore, will likely start to affect retail and consumer experiences long before autonomous vehicles are mainstream and look at how much publicity the vehicle movement has already.
What’s the future of brick and mortar retail?
CW: The future of brick and mortar retail will all be all about one word — emotion.