According to famed Yankee catcher and manager Yogi Berra, “it is difficult to make predictions, especially about the future.” It’s actually a paraphrase of one by Nobel Prize physicist Niels Bohr and it’s appropriate for this season of annual predictions. Despite being difficult to predict, it’s important to think about the future so we identify critical assumptions for business planning and for making investment decisions. In 2011 and 2012 we have experienced first-hand the power of the mobile, social, big data, and cloud nexus on the business. Moving forward we have the opportunity to translate that experience into winning business strategies.
Today, I’ll focus on industry predictions and will stay away from prognosticating economic numbers, GDP growth, IT spending and so on (for those you can check out NRF, Shop.org, IDC, Gartner, Goldman Sachs). My basic premise is that 2013 will continue to build on a good 2012 for retailers. And although the results from the holiday season are still ahead of us, we appear on track to deliver good numbers (as long as the weather cooperates).
My predictions are not in any particular order. Some are more likely than others and maybe a couple push “the limits of the possible” – and isn’t that how we get to discovery and innovation? Let’s get started:
- More store associates will be armed with smart devices. They will no longer be tied to a register for check out or for looking up inventory on a product. They can walk around the store providing better and timely customer service.
- Customers will interact with products at the shelf more than ever before. Retailers and brands will enhance the shopping experience with interactive signage, data rich packaging, and augmented reality.
- Technology will personalize shopping experience. Shoppers are not all the same and technology has magnified the differentiating factors – from age to region to time of day to personal beliefs and social habits. In 2013, retailers will have the tools to deliver on customer personalization.
- Big Data will go from buzz word to real world. Using in-memory computing, retailers will get aggressive managing big data which will become a business requirement for retailers wanting to lift shopper satisfaction and improve on inventory performance.
- Multichannel is the new Brick and Click. More retailers will turn their stores into the physical/digital hub for a true multichannel experience and replace traditional channel thinking with a hybrid model to retailing architected with the customer at the center.
- Your next c-level executive will be Chief Experience Officer (CXO). It’s no longer enough to provide good products and services, it’s about the experience. That’s why more retailers will bring in a CXO with responsibility and authority to manage all the interactions that make up the brand and customer experience.
- Expanded same day delivery of online orders. Amazon will continue to push the service envelope for online retailers with faster and more novel delivery models (including partners) coming to a major city center near you.
- Concierge service will enhance the shopping experience. Affluent shoppers won’t be the only ones enjoying such services. To differentiate further, retailers will rethink their service model and create customized services that wrap their best customers with innovative value that speaks to each customer’s lifestyle and aspirations.
- Analytics, analytics, and more analytics. The drive to gain more (and better) customer insight will put demands on merchandising, marketing, and supply chain areas to make quicker decisions, have shorter plan/execute cycles, and value agility over perfection. This requires predictive analytics, real-time processing platform, and visualization software – and of course a strategy to pull these all together.
- Augmented reality will transform how you experience shopping. You’ve seen augmented reality (AR) in special issues by Esquire and Atlantic magazines or early Lego’s digital box. AR apps will use location-based services, image recognition capabilities, and motion-capture technology to deliver an even more engaging and richer shopping experience.
Let me close with a sure-fire prediction: the upcoming NRF 2013 Big Show in New York City will be the biggest and best ever! SAP is a proud Chairman’s Circle and we would love to share our thought leadership and innovative solutions with you. So, check out the Sunday Keynote with The Coca-Cola Company, stop by the SAP Booth and let us hear your story and how you see 2013 unfolding for your company!
What do you think? You can share your prediction by commenting below.
Happy Holidays and see you in New York!!!