So, what is the future of retail going to be and is high-street shopping going to die as has been predicted by some retail industry experts? Given retail’s steady migration to mobile, IoT and other such technology, we can expect hyper-customized concierge and on-demand services, and the integration of convenience, consumption, and entertainment. Retailers world over have been experimenting heavily with new technologies as a way to offer customers better experiences and drive more revenue.

For example, stores like Macy’s and Lord & Taylor have rolled out beacon programs. The advancement of both personal devices and in-store technologies like beacons have progressed recently, but there is still a massive disconnect when it comes to actually using those and sharing information, which will hinder the ability to provide a contextual location-based shopping experience.

For instance, beacons are being adopted by several key retail chains especially in the US and in the UK. But the true value of these is wasted unless retailers can use the content hidden inside the beacons to offer hyper-personalized offers and service. Another way is to make these beacons respond to active visual cues and fully integrate shoppers via mobile devices. Active beacon experiences have the ability to generate more demand and unlock new store-level intent data. Retailers thus need to stop hiding such opportunities for personalized information exchange and make them visibly exciting and accessible.

What is certain is that with the tsunami of digital transformation the world over, the retail sector is experiencing severe turbulence at the moment. There is regular news about store closures and job losses on the high street, and the underlying dynamic is easy to spot: an accelerating shift away from in-store shopping towards digital commerce, particularly via mobile devices. ‘Business as

usual’ is no longer an option in the retail sector, thanks to new technologies, changing patterns of consumer behavior, and the influence of pioneering digital-first companies like Amazon.

Customers today can research a product, compare prices, order and pay for it, and have it delivered to their door – sometimes as soon as the same day. And all this from a computer at home or their smartphone. That’s why traditional retail businesses need to urgently update their business models for the Amazon age.

Future retail success lies in retailers’ ability to ensure that their stores remain relevant and are places that shoppers want to keep coming back to. Experience is more important than ever, and stores need to be more than just places to transact. Technologies like IoT, mobile apps, beacons and new POS systems will allow retailers to discover more about their customers, which in turn will facilitate more personal customer experiences.

The good news is that many retailers, especially those that leverage digital technology and listen to their customers, are expanding. The correct response to these seismic changes will include better data about customer requirements and behavior, and better analysis of that data. It will also include new ways of deploying physical stores, leveraging engaging new technologies like AR and IoT, new payment systems and faster, more convenient purchase fulfillment.

Regardless of what device or interface shoppers use to access content, smart retailers are creating more active shopping experiences with customers by increasing the digital touchpoints in the physical store. Everything is a gradual change in behavior. The time to start roping in customers with digital technology and demystifying its wonderful capabilities is now.

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About the author

Anil is the Director of Technology at Zuci Systems. He is an industry evangelist in retail. With 17 years of experience, he has managed projects with Fortune 1000 companies and successfully implemented relevant technology for innovation in retail. Know more about him at Anil Kumar