This year saw numerous advances in retail technologies, but 2018 promises to bring even more change to the retail landscape.

Matt Britton, chief executive officer of marketing tech firm Crowdtap, said Amazon will continue to be the biggest disrupter for the retail industry — but there will also be plenty of innovation that will shake up the market. Britton predicted that the mass adoption of voice technologies will have more consumers completing orders from tools like Google Home and Amazon Alexa.

Bridget Fahrland, senior vice president of client strategy at e-commerce platform solutions firm, Fluid, agreed that the fast adoption of smart home devices with shopping capabilities will have enormous impact on the retail industry in 2018.

Augmented reality software and mixed reality headsets were forecasted to be among the year’s biggest retail technology trends. Stephen Boidock, director of marketing and business development at engagement agency, Drumroll, described that augmented reality software and mixed reality headsets have become more distributed and affordable.

Fittingly, Boidock believes that next year brands will finally begin to treat these tools as viable shopping companions as opposed to novelties.

Ed Kennedy, senior director of commerce at software company Episerver added that artificial intelligence tech will deliver automated personalized shopping experiences to consumers in 2018. “By tracking and analyzing the behavior of millions of shoppers, AI technologies will detect patterns in shopping behavior and automatically respond to these to provide a better customer experience,” he suggested.

“This is a well-worn strategy for suggesting products to consumers, but in 2018, I predict we will see AI-powered technologies personalizing everything from what promotion we are offered to which channels we will most likely respond like email, social and paid,” he forecasted. “Put simply — the machines are going to know more about us than we do.”

WGSN’s Petah Marian, senior editor of the trend forecasting service’s consumer and market intelligence product, WGSN Insight, confirmed that voice, artificial intelligence, and augmented reality will be some of the top tech trends in 2018 — as they were 2017.

The major difference between the two years, according to Marian, will be increased competition.

In regard to voice-related technology trends, for example, she noted that the emergence of digital assistants within the home will continue to be key. Accordingly, relevant players and actors will need to find ways to differentiate themselves. “Brands and retailers will need to figure out how they play in a space that is already being dominated by Amazon and its Alexa system,” she suggested.

Above all, Marian described that 2017 was somewhat of a trial run and predicted the pressure will be amped-up for brands and retailers moving forward.

“Two-thousand seventeen was largely a year of experimentation. We saw early iterations of what things like chatbots, visual search and augmented reality might look like,” she explained. “There has been a certain degree of tolerance when these have not been perfect as brands build, with a certain degree of lenience for brands that did not immediately get these things right, or even when they didn’t work all the time.”

But in the new year, she cautioned, expectations will change. As Marian put it: “Two-thousand eighteen will be when consumers begin to expect these tools as part of their shopping journey and will have much less tolerance for anything less than a totally seamless consumer experience.”

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