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PREDICTIONS Cybersecurity and returns remain challenging in 2024

Each year, InternetRetailing starts to look ahead to the coming new year in a series of predictions. In the ever-evolving landscape of retail, staying ahead demands a keen understanding of emerging trends and a strategic approach to technological advancements.

Denis Baranov, head of retail & distribution practice, DataArt

Denis Baranov, head of retail & distribution practice at DataArt, provides key topics that will define the industry’s trajectory in 2024.

Generative AI
Generative AI remains a hot topic, garnering significant attention in the tech world. However, it’s important to acknowledge that there are numerous questions and concerns associated with it.

Questions around data privacy, GDPR compliance, and ethical risks associated with new technologies persist. While it’s an intriguing trend, its full utility and safety are yet to be fully determined.

When discussing advanced trends like Generative AI, it’s essential not to forget the basics. It’s not always necessary to use advanced technology when problems can be solved on an organisational level. 

Speed, particularly in the retail sector, has become a paramount concern due to shifts brought about by the pandemic and digitalisation. Customers now expect rapid deliveries, an online-like experience, and the increasing speed places pressure on businesses to adapt and leverage new technologies such as AI to maintain competitive service levels.

The approach to sustainability has evolved, incorporating deep operational expenses like cloud computing
Sustainability has become a central concern for businesses, with a growing emphasis on reducing waste and promoting reuse. The retail sector is no exception, as seen during events like Black Friday, where the focus has shifted towards secondary markets or more environment-friendly products. 

Companies strive to understand their operations’ environmental impact, including the hidden ones such as the CO2 costs of cloud services. The approach to sustainability has evolved and as a result, initiatives have emerged to enhance predictability and address sustainability concerns. This is especially relevant in supply chain management, where predictability plays a crucial role.

Returns are now a challenge for retailers
In the past, many online companies offered free returns, but this practice has evolved due to the rising costs associated with it. These costs have led to some customers returning to traditional offline shopping methods. This shift highlights the need for businesses to adapt to changing customer preferences and use technologies which can support that. For example, virtual fitting rooms or AR technologies for visualisation.

Cloud providers will expand and influence multiple aspects of the business world.
Cloud providers have expanded beyond their traditional roles and now offer a wide array of services. Companies like Google, AWS, and Microsoft are becoming more like conglomerates, investing in various industries, from technology to transportation and beyond. This evolution indicates a shift towards larger corporations influencing multiple aspects of the business world.

Cybersecurity is a huge challenge to everyone
With more data and operations moving to the cloud, cybersecurity has become a pressing concern. As hackers become increasingly sophisticated, they pose a significant threat to businesses. Large corporations are frequent targets for data breaches and cyberattacks, making cybersecurity a crucial aspect of operations.

Trends on the Decline
The initial hype around blockchain, Web3, and cryptocurrencies has subsided. The freedom associated with cryptocurrencies has reduced, as governments have applied more control over the space. DLT and Web3 technologies are still in use, but they no longer generate as much excitement.

Trends like the Metaverse have seen a decline in attention recently, but they may resurface in the future. However, some concepts, like aggregators, are still important, albeit evolving to provide more personalised experiences.

Denis Baranov, head of retail & distribution practice at DataArt

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