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The four disruptive innovations set to change retail

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Stephan Schambach, founder of Demandware , has zeroed in on the disruptive technologies he predicts retailers will have to deal with. “The pace of change will never be slower than it is today,” he warned, speaking at the ecommerce platform provider’s customer conference, Xchange ’14. Schambach set up one of the first ecommerce sites and founded platform provider Intershop before focusing on the cloud with Demandware. His comments came with a caveat: “There are many trends affecting your business so don’t take what I have here as the only or most important,” he said. “But those are the trends on my mind every day.”


“There is going to be disruptive innovation in payment. The current situation with its hundreds of different payment platforms, and the security and convenience disadvantages of credit cards will all go away. One major step towards that is Apple Pay. To me this is the first time there’s enough of a force behind a revolution that will lead to more secure payment, more convenient payment without basically abandoning some of the instruments like credit cards that establish the payment flows in the back end. There will be others but I think for the first time they have the chance to get away from typing in credit card numbers which most customers are still doing.”


“There is going to be a lot of innovation in logistics. Drones are probably the most talked about and they will play a role particularly in rural areas where the last mile is easier to cover with something automated. But you think about Uber and Delivery Hero, who are basically crowd-sourced logistics platforms, you will basically be able to ship from store by Uber using its automation and quality control. You may have more and very different logistics partners in the future than Federal Express and UPS. Of course this will only work if you have your store inventory under control. Only by doing so can you offer same day delivery.”

Computing platforms

There are advances in computing platforms. I believe in three years, for the purposes of ecommerce, the web browser will play no important role any more. Most user interaction is going to happen on mobile platforms, starting with smartphone size but getting to a 14-inch notebook replacement. For most of us this will replace notebooks, desktop computers. This has implications for ecommerce. It may have to have a strategy for native apps as the basic format. These devices are much better because they impact on all the senses, they can have a better payment experience integrated – such as Apple Pay. That may be a competitive pressure at some point not to have to rely on HTML.”

Marketplaces – and brands

“To me when it comes to ecommerce there is the marketplace, Amazon, eBay, Alibaba: they’re selling commodities. If you’re unfortunate enough to have to rely on these places, the marketplace always has the longer stick and you are on the short end of it. Whereas if you are the brand, you can make the brand grow and become much stronger even without the internet. Brands are really benefitting from the internet if they do the right things and keep innovating. At the same time they have to do this otherwise marketplaces may be taking over their distribution channel and their access to customers. The power of the brand and the power of the community, and the innovation around giving consumers experiences that they desire really unites us all.”

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