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Conclusion – January 2018

Preparing for the future today

As we explore throughout this Dimension Report, we have moved beyond an era when retailers needed to think about preparing for a mobile-first world to a time when the smartphone is the device that glues cross-channel retail together. This is especially true when it comes to millennials and their Generation Z successors. These are consumers who run their lives through their phones. Optimising desktop services for them is to miss the point. But that doesn’t mean retailers can just focus on the existing mobile ecosystem. As we have seen, as the Internet of Things (IoT) becomes a reality, we will all interact with digital services via all kinds of devices – and via voice rather than via keyboard. Our interactions with the digital technology that’s interwoven into our environment will become more and more part of everyday life. For a glimpse of this future, think of the new Amazon Go store in Seattle. It’s a place where cameras and sensors monitor shoppers. Rather than these customers paying at the checkout, they simply pick up the items they want and they’re automatically billed via their phones. To interject some words of caution here, even a company with the resources of Amazon spent a long time getting this technology to a stage where it was ready to be rolled out to customers. It may quite be a while before we see the grander visions of futurologists on provincial high streets. But Apple’s initiative nonetheless shows the way to the future and other retailers, while they will start from further back, need to be doing strategic work here as preparation for the future. In this context, when you consider that 34% of the IREU Top500 don’t have apps, there’s still plenty of scope for work here. We would go further: even the retailers performing most strongly need to make incremental improvements as a way to prepare for an IoT-enabled world.

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