The future of retail: 4 trends transforming how we shop

Machine learning, the Internet of Things, augmented reality, and omnichannel are making today's shopping experience more connected, mobile, and data-driven.
Written by Jason Hiner, Editor in Chief

The death of retail has been greatly exaggerated, but it's undergoing a historic transformation that is dramatically changing, and ultimately improving, the way we shop in brick-and-mortar stores.

Let's do a quick speed round on the four trends that are the most promising, and the most disruptive:

1. Mobilized shopping

You can now walk into a store, find the product you want, then pull out your phone and order it from an app or a mobile site, and maybe even get same-day delivery. This raises the bar for shops to rethink their value proposition.

2. No checkout lines

Amazon Go has built a store where you can skip the checkout line because in-store cameras work with AI to scan your cart and automatically charge your account. This could become the new standard.

Aamzon Go
Image: Amazon

3. AR-powered decisions

Augmented reality let's you visualize that piece of furniture in the store in the room where you want to put it in your house. Or, see that outfit you're trying on in a different color, using a smart mirror.

IKEA AR shopping
Image: IKEA

4. Personalized store experiences

Using IoT devices, beacons, and mobile apps, retail stores are now able to recommend and help you find products based on your personal profile, the same way the Amazon home page has for years.

Special report

These trends are just the beginning of retail reinventing itself for the digital age. To understand more about this topic, see our special report "Data, AI, and IoT: The Future of Retail." You can read all of the articles on ZDNet or download them in one PDF on TechRepublic, available for free to registered users.

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