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What New Technology Will Be Deployed In The Next 10 Years To Make Shopping Online And Offline A More Satisfying Experience?

National Retail
What New Technology Will Be Deployed In The Next 10 Years To Make Shopping Online And Offline A More Satisfying Experience?

I’m excited to watch the growth of 5G technology, facial recognition software, location analytics software, augmented reality, automated checkout and cloud-based point-of-sale systems. Retailers and landlords will have more affordable and effective technology that will enable landlords and tenants to make more strategic decisions in a fraction of the time.

Richard Rizika | Beta co-founder | El Segundo, California

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We surveyed shoppers earlier this year on what they want to see in their shopping experience by 2030. What we found is that for tech, it’s a “less is more” scenario. Just 11% of shoppers were interested in seeing things like customer service robots in their centers, but 30% did want a more seamless checkout experience through technology. While it’s not as attention-grabbing, retailers would be wise to focus their tech efforts on “behind the scenes” utilizations that improve logistics, efficiency and inventory management to provide a frictionless experience for the shopper.

I’d also anticipate more AR and VR in the physical shopping experience as the push for experience will continue. Brick-and-mortar retailers will focus more on delivering that experience, as it will be a differentiator compared to the ease of online shopping (which will continue to do well primarily with commoditized items).

Greg Maloney | JLL Retail CEO | Atlanta

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Obviously drones and most likely self-driving delivery trucks and cars. Maybe some sort of self-storage warehouse locker-type facility where the consumer can have all types of products delivered and not worry about people stealing packages off the front porch. 

Tom Papadopoulos | Papadopoulos Properties principal broker | Washington, D.C.

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Increasingly, products for sale are being tracked so when someone is looking for a particular product, they can locate it. Ebay created a platform for smaller users to list individual items for sale and provide the purchaser the reassurances they get when they buy from larger retailers. However, it’s still a very labor-intensive task to be able to do this. I see that increasingly there will be services that will create even more fluidity in the sales process. This could be tracking chips embedded in goods to make them easily trackable and resalable. There can be more services that offer seamless pickups of returned goods to eliminate repacking and dropping off. The prevalence of online reviews makes online shopping more attractive; however, they are becoming increasingly corrupted. There needs to be a consumer’s clearinghouse for reviews so they are more reliable. That service doesn’t exist today as far as I know. It’s really buyer beware. I presume that this will get sorted out in the near future so the process is more reliable and verifiable.

Leslie Lundin | LBG Real Estate Cos. Managing Partner | San Francisco

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5G. The speed at which you will be able to use the internet and shop on your phone with 5G will be incredibly fast; that is what will change the experience. Offline is still “online.” Smart technologies like geofencing will heat up your physical shopping taste buds while you are there in brick-in-mortar stores (even more than now). Smart technology also will offer a more customized physical experience.

Grant Pruitt | Whitebox Real Estate co-founder and President | Dallas

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 NewMark Merrill CEO Sandy Sigal and Family
NewMark Merrill CEO Sandy Sigal and his family

Driverless cars will make getting to shopping much more accessible and directed, advertising will be done directly to transportation and then will take you to those locations that fit, AI will be much stronger at recommending items that are a fit for your needs and virtual reality will enable you to tour a store before you visit it. While privacy may be less, the ability to access information about what others similar to you may like will be easier, and shopping centers will become much more gathering points for shared experiences.

Sandy Sigal | NewMark Merrill Cos. President and CEO | Woodland Hills, California

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Technology will hopefully evolve to reflect true consumer behavior in an ethical and moral manner. Ideally, it will recognize that people are people and not simply consumers and these people care about what they eat, what they wear, what they do for fun and how their shopping experiences affects family dynamics. E-commerce’s biggest challenge is how it addresses dynamics beyond price and selection to enable (and I’m skeptical it will) an outcome that promotes responsible shopping. 

David Birnbrey | The Shopping Center Group co-CEO | Atlanta

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The realities of 5G connectivity will change every aspect of how we live, work and play — drastically changing not just how, but why we shop in the process. The promises of AI, VR and 3-D technologies will come to fruition thanks to 5G. The greatest benefit to the consumer is that the vast majority of their purchases can be fulfilled without their direct involvement. The remaining shopping consumers do will be strictly out of desire. Businesses will be forced to compete for consumers’ attention in very different ways than they do today. Retailers providing special services, exclusive products and unexpected treats will become the norm, versus the exception. 

Marcie Merriman | Ernst & Young Americas Cultural Insights & Consumer Strategy Leader | Columbus, Ohio

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Online, we will likely see more interactive and customizable buyer experiences that allow users to design or alter items to their own specific tastes. An offline trend we are seeing is VR and holographic experiences. Use of VR and holographic tech creates a memorable experience for customers, and also allows merchants to showcase larger quantities and varieties of merchandise (clothes, furniture, automobiles, etc.) without having the physical stock on hand. Online shopping experiences will likely begin to take advantage of this tech as it becomes more accessible. A more common lower-tech example of this is already available in the MTailor app that can be used on your phone to create customizable clothing. Imagine all the ways this can expand with more robust tech, or data transfer rates, such as 5G, 6G, 7G, ad infinitum.

Another offline trend — particularly for apparel — is storefronts functioning as showrooms. Consumers still visit the storefront, or showroom, to check out the product in person, maybe via hologram, and even try it on if their size is available. The big shift is the customer will then go on their phone and search online for the best price and have it delivered to their home. Some customizable or standard goods may still be ordered in-store, but it will likely still be an interactive experience that results in the product being delivered at home.   

Steven Janeway | Hoefer Wysocki Principal, National Commercial Practice Leader | Dallas

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Colliers International national director of retail services Anjee Solanki at MAPIC 2015
Colliers International National Director of Retail Services Anjee Solanki at MAPIC 2015

Augmented reality, directing people to their preferences in product, store and location (whether on- or offline).

Anjee Solanki | Colliers International U.S. National Director of Retail Services | San Francisco

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Deeper product information, including videos, more consumer ratings and, eventually, virtual reality marketing.

Bill Miller | Miller Walker Retail Real Estate Principal | Washington, D.C.

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There will be more targeting to the individual consumer rather than traditional demographic blocks. Every time we visit a website or visit a property, we leave a digital footprint, and the sheer amount of data available means that retailers will have more ways to present products that appeal to you specifically, rather than your age, income or educational cohort.

Michael Leon | Rappaport leasing representative | Washington, D.C. 

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Already we see emerging conveniences for consumers. Home deliveries can be timed for the convenience of time-constrained consumers. Garage delivery options as well as in-house deliveries, even to inside the refrigerator, increase security and convenience. The shop online/pick up in store options will continue and we’ll see them in creative new ways. Robot and drone deliveries are intriguing new horizons. In many sectors, we will see more automation while at the same time other retailers will focus on more customer interface to facilitate personal connections with consumers.

Barbara Stewart | University of Houston Professor & Coordinator, Retail and Consumer Science, Global Retailing | Houston

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Predictive marketing and artificial intelligence will continue to be refined in all regards, including retail sales. So much data is being collected about our travel and buying patterns now and companies are just scratching the surface on how all this data can be used. 

Nick Banks | Avison Young Managing Director and National Retail Affinity Group Lead | Gainesville, Florida

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Greater use of virtual reality, ability to see items in context with other items, complementary pieces in an ensemble, for instance.

Howard Shumacher | The Shumacher Group President | Atlanta

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Certainly there will be more and more tech that allows the consumer to buy at home and have items delivered right away. For offline to remain competitive (or even present) in categories where brick-and-mortar isn’t a requirement, the consumer will demand a total integration of tech and customer service (which is the only thing that really can’t be duplicated online). But we really haven’t seen high-tech innovations to that shopping experience, like creating a garment or shoes custom on-site while you wait. We will continue to see many more experiential retail concepts that can only work offline (but will have a strong online tie-in for social media, etc).

Peter Braus | Lee & Associates NYC, Managing Principal | New York City

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If there was a way that I could get a workout by pressing a button, I would. But, I can’t because I need to do it myself along with other experiences. Speed, value and selection are nearing full saturation. The next level of e-commerce penetration will be total personalization. There is some of this being attempted today, but through data mining I expect it to continue. I also expect the “graying” of the next generation (Gen Xers) will begin to create new categories of e-commerce that currently aren’t heavily trafficked by baby boomers.

Spencer Levy | CBRE Chairman of Americas Research | Baltimore