Tech retail predictions for 2019

21st December 2018
Alex Lynn


Dan Mitchell, global director of retail and CPG, SAS, has offered his insights on the direction of tech retail in 2019, including how the connected car may become a shopping platform, conversational interfaces will replace search, and AI and IoT in retail will lead to more analytics.

The amount of technology built into modern cars is staggering. And, if your car is connected to your smart phone, it already knows a lot about you, your habits and preferences. Equipped with this knowledge, in the future your car will help you plan and execute a shopping journey more efficiently. For example, many people already use the Waze app for crowdsourcing about speed traps, construction, accidents.

Reimagine using that same technology to crowdsource shopping trips and errands: I could grab that prescription while I’m picking up the dry cleaning, then make a grocery run on the way back to buy those steaks that are on sale for dinner tonight. As long as the retailers involved offer something of value to reduce the burden on the consumer – creating a quicker, more accurate shopping experience – consumers will welcome the assistance.

Mobile and online shopping will move toward conversational interfaces. The goal is to be able to move from keying into a search box “red cardigan sweater with buttons” to saying it verbally. Chat functions are already present in most software, and retailers will insist on making that functionality even stronger this year.

From the supply chain and the distribution centre to a bricks-and-mortar store and e-commerce shopping channels, AI and IoT technologies are everywhere to make the shopping experience more satisfying. To realise the most value out of those pivotal technologies, the data generated must be analysed in as close to real time as possible. 

Without real-time analytics, how is your sales associate at a store on the north side of town going to know the size 12 black gabardine pants her customer needs (but she doesn’t have at her location) are sitting at a distribution centre one county over and can be shipped to the customer overnight? Inventory transparency means the sale is saved and the customer is satisfied because the retailer knows where all their inventory resides at all times.

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