Post Categories: December 2016

Expert Viewpoints: Technology Forecast 2017

Rekha Ramesh Senior VP of Global IT & Digital

Rekha Ramesh
Senior VP of Global IT& Digital

Technology is playing an increasingly important role in retail—and our lives as a whole. It’s also something we write about a lot here at Retail News Insider. But it can be tough at times to figure out which technology trends are just passing fads (here’s looking at you, Google Glass) and which have real staying power. We sat down with our in-house expert, Senior Vice President of Global IT & Digital Rekha Ramesh, to get her take on the trends to watch closely in the coming year.

RNI: Which technology trends do you think will have the biggest impact on retail in 2017?

Ramesh: There are four that top the list in my mind. The first is digitized transparency. This will include things like providing more information on where products come from, whether they’re organic and what’s in them, particularly as it comes to ingredients shoppers are looking to avoid, like added sugars, colors and artificial flavors. Technology will play a key role in providing the platform on which all of these aspects can be tagged by product and searched/identified across all channels. It will also be the answer to delivering the information quickly—namely via mobile. Taking it to the next level, augmented reality and farm-to-fork tracking to provide the shelf time on fresh products may also be used.

Analytics and data-driven decisions will also continue to be a major trend in the coming year. We’ve already started to see this, but it’s going to get even bigger. Similarly, there’s going to be a lot more digital marketing, like real-time bidding to advertise on social media sites, as well as growth of virtual stores, providing the endless aisle.

RNI: If a retailer could only focus in one of these trends next year, which would you recommend they invest in?

Ramesh: It depends on where they are with some other technologies. If they are not already focusing on click-and-collect—in particular, well-integrated, temperature-controlled click-and-collect—then that should be their first priority. If they are already invested in click-and-collect, then they should focus on improving transparency and look to use context both to assemble and deliver experiences dynamically on their own and third-party platforms.

RNI: Are there any new technologies we’ll start to see emerge in the retail space in the coming year?

Ramesh: We can expect to see voice-driven IoT [Internet of Things] devices aiding in the building of shopping lists, replenishment and managing deliveries. I think facial recognition will also emerge as an alternative to PINs and signatures for payments. In addition, I expect digital shelves will move from the concept/trial space to reality—providing more marketing content and product information for ever-demanding consumers.