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EDITORIAL How emerging technologies might change the way retail operates

Having an overview of business operations is important in challenging times. Image: Fotolia

Having an overview of business operations is important in challenging times. Image: Fotolia

In today’s InternetRetailing newsletter we’re reporting at a moment where there appears to be real potential for technology to take some real leaps forward. We’re reporting on Burberry as it launches a social retail store in association with Tencent in Shenzen and we’re reporting on new Magway technology that promises online deliveries propelled by electricity and magnetic forces through a network of underground pipes. These come alongside general election pledges of improving access to the internet – or even providing it for free – that we’ll look to explore in more detail once the party manifestos are published.

These ideas may sound futuristic but they also point to new leaps in technology that make these innovations capable of coming about, as long as the funding is in place. Certainly these ideas could mean enormous changes to the way customers shop and retailers sell. We’ll be watching with interest as these ideas work their way towards fruition.

The customer experience is another key theme this week. It’s present in the story that Burberry is taking a “social first approach”, working with Chinese social technology business Tencent to create their first social retail shop where luxury customers will connect both their physical and social selves and it’s in the news that Card Factory says a focus on the customer experience has helped it to a strong growth in online sales and to grow average in-store spending. 

Growing sales by improving the customer experience seems to be more sustainable for retailers than growing sales by discounting, but the latter is the trend that the ONS has seen in department stores in its latest Retail Sales report, for October 2019. 

Today we also report as the RetailX European Top500 Report 2019 is released, naming the Elite retailers for 2019. And from our European coverage, we report as uses chatbot technology to give children a direct line to Santa.

In today’s guest comment, Dawn McKerracher of This Place argues that given the proliferation of digital and its intrusion in every element of our lives, businesses have a responsibility to design not just for business results, but based on individual and societal impact.

Image: Fotolia

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