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Retail is seeing innovative business solutions emerge at an accelerated rate. From augmented reality platforms and apps to in-store facial expression recognition technology, the array of advanced possibilities for the fashion apparel industry is in a state of constant development. And, some tout that 2018 is likely to only herald in more change.

Stefan Weitz, executive vice president of technology services at Radial, an omnichannel commerce technologies and operations company, shared the trends he expects will have major effects on retail in the new year.

WWD: What are your top predictions for technology in 2018?

Stefan Weitz: Inventory optimization will become a priority. With consumer expectations continuing to grow, retailers will be more deliberate and precise with their delivery management. They will look for technology that allows them to reduce [excess inventory] through precision forecasts and automated planning.

Retailers will develop a balanced, optimized marketplace strategy. Taking a more strategic approach to marketplaces, retailers will leverage the channel as a gateway to attain customers and strike a better balance with brand recognition and direct sales.

Retail fraud rates will continue to grow. Cybercriminals will target businesses with increasingly sophisticated strategies — and retailers will respond with greater measures of protection, utilizing machine learning, velocity engines and biometrics.

WWD: What will be the biggest tech disruptor for the retail industry next year?

S.W.: In order to achieve the agility necessary to remain a competitive partner of retailers and keep up with the growing expectations set by Amazon, we’ll see digitalization play a major role for all stakeholders in the retail supply chain. Investments in digital tools will start to translate to better financial performance and omnichannel service to consumers.

WWD: How will retail in 2018 differ from prior years, in your opinion?

S.W.: The proliferation of the on-demand economy and smartphones has led to a ‘right now’ consumer mindset. With this in mind, in 2018 retailers will start focusing more on technology that advances last-mile delivery. Retailers will look to warehouse supply chain management systems that track the entire fulfillment process from receiving to shipping, ensuring that the process stays on track and that adequate inventory and delivery capabilities are available. They’ll also look to mobile technology as an effective way to provide a real-time connection between the business and the consumer.

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