From smart handbags to augmented reality innovations, technology brought enormous advances to retail last year — and new tech trends will continue to transform the fashion apparel industry in the year ahead.
Matthew Glickman, vice president of product at Snowflake Computing, a company that offers cloud-based warehouse data solutions, weighed in on the technologies he believes will shake retail in 2018. Here is why he believes that machine learning, personalization and online-centric physical stores will be among key disruptors.
WWD: What were last year’s biggest retail-related technology trends, and how will those change in 2018?
Matthew Glickman: In 2017, the biggest retail-related tech trend was the adoption of the cloud as the rule, not the exception. We will continue to see retailers prioritize the cloud in 2018. In 2018, we will also see the continued adoption and acceleration of personalization. Retailers will increasingly try to uncover how best to customize the customer experience and make informed recommendations to shoppers — all without impeding on people’s privacy.
WWD: What will be this year’s tech disruptor?
M.G.: The commoditization of machine learning. Every marketing team in the retail space is going to be doing some type of ML-focused campaign with all the data they have to predict customer behavior. We will see ML become the norm as retailers recognize the power data holds and the ability of ML to extract insights and predictions from this data.
WWD: Technology-wise, how will 2018 be unique?
M.G.: At the intersection of the online and physical space, I believe we will see the return to a new generation of brick-and-mortar in 2018. In 2017, we saw the industry come full circle when Amazon opened its first brick-and-mortar stores. But these are not typical retail stores — they are online-centric, serving more as showcases where people can view items in-person and then have their orders delivered directly to their homes. We will see continued expansion in this area from other retailers.
There will be an interesting shift back to brick-and-mortar, where we will see the integration of personalization offered by the online/mobile world with products in the physical world. Technology that enables that experience to be a leap forward — versus a throwback — will be quite intriguing, as will seeing how retailers realize how they can capitalize on the physical world.
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