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These 4 Things Will Change Your 2021 Retail Year Featured

These 4 Things Will Change Your 2021 Retail Year "2021 written with sparkler, happy new year, new years eve"

The world is where it has never been before. Technology is advancing at an unprecedented rate, and the retail industry, just like any other industry, has become increasingly digital and online-based. With this new development, brick and mortar stores are facing their biggest challenge never witnessed before. For this reason, the traditional stores are shifting their activities online to meet the new demands. With the coronavirus pandemic now turning all sectors inside out, the changes are expected to be more than it has ever been experienced. The online retail industry is expected to increase than ever before as consumers choose to order products from the comfort of their homes safely. As the retail sector changes, so should your thinking regarding the same. Here are some things that will change your 2021 retail year:

  1. AI and VR will be used increasingly in retail

Artificial intelligence (AI) and virtual reality (VR) are among the leading technologies adopted to change the retail sector for the better. With retail now moving online, these two technologies are billed as the game-changers that retailers will use to ensure efficiency and reduce the need to visit physical stores. For AI, the developments have already seen things such as chatbots and virtual assistants being adopted. These have reduced the cost of operations significantly as human labor is replaced by technology. From now onwards, retailers will focus on different technologies such as AI and VR and big data in their operations. 

  • Online will get personal.

Over the past few years, video calls have become mainstream not only in communication among people, but it is also increasingly being adopted by businesses. This method of communication allows people to see each other, share documents and screen and other information. Retailers are beginning to take advantage of this tool to consult with the customers and for sales. It allows customers who want to buy different products online, such as furniture, clothing, or electronics, to efficiently connect with sales personnel and make decisions face-to-face. Besides allowing easy communication, online consultations like this make it easy to share product videos and walk the customer through a given item's features and functions during interactions. 

  • Autonomous deliveries and fulfillment will increase.

This is something that has been cooking for some time now. However, with the coronavirus pandemic, fast change has been experienced in this area. With the kind of exposure we experienced this year due to the pandemic, we are likely to see more ideas aimed at reducing human participation in retail activities. We will see things such as self-driving delivery vehicles and drone delivery services. With these devices and using online ordering and delivery, we should expect reduced human-to-human contact. Although the virus might be controlled with vaccine already on the horizon, these moves will be permanent and will change the retail industry for the better. Expect to see more of these changes in 2021 moving forward. Several trends, such as AI, will be crucial in managing the last-mile delivery of products through autonomous vehicles. 

  • Omnichannel shopping

With online shopping, expect different trends and technologies such as AI, robotics, IoT, and virtual reality to come together to serve customers. Connecting these technologies will enable retailers to shop conveniently and avoid hassles experienced with offline shops and stores. While these technologies may be meant for online stores, brick-and-mortar stores will also benefit from these platforms substantially. Although the trend has seen many brick and mortar stores moving online, online stores are also realizing the presence of a physical store can be an advantage. With these new technologies, offline and online stores will be brought together to benefit the customer. 

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Scott Koegler

Scott Koegler is Executive Editor for PMG360. He is a technology writer and editor with 20+ years experience delivering high value content to readers and publishers. 

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