BrainTrust Query: Looking Back on Retail Technology Predictions for 2011
Through a special arrangement, presented here for discussion is an excerpt from a current article from Insight-Driven Retailing Blog.
I’ve been busy thinking about what 2012 and beyond will look like for retail. But before I go there, let’s first review this year’s predictions before making new ones for 2012.
Alternate Payments: We’ve seen several alternate payment schemes emerge over the last two years, and 2011 promised to be the year one of them took hold. The iPhone 4S did not contain an NFC chip, so we’ll have to continuing waiting for the iPhone 5. PayPal announced it is moving into in-store payments, and Google launched its wallet in selected cities. Overall I think the payment scene is heating up and that trend will continue.
Engineered Systems: The industry appeared to be moving toward purpose-built appliances that are optimized across the entire stack. Oracle refers to these as "engineered systems" and its first two examples are Exadata and Exalogic, but there are other examples from other vendors. Exadata is Oracle’s fasting growing product, and at the recent OpenWorld it announced the SuperCluster and Exalytics products, both continuing the engineered systems trend. SAP’s HANA continues to receive attention, and IBM also seems to be moving in this direction.
Social Analytics: While tools provided insight into how a brand is perceived across popular internet sites, the next step needed to be mining the data and determine how it should influence retail operations, including aiding in promotions, buys and customer engagement. Vendor consolidation was expected to help make this happen. In March, Salesforce.com acquired leading social monitoring vendor Radian6 and followed up with acquisitions of Heroku and Model Metrics. The notion of Social CRM seems to be going more mainstream now.
2-D Barcodes: QRCodes are everywhere. ‘Nuff said.
In the words of Microsoft, "To the Cloud!": It appeared that retailers were going to start relying on cloud services, both public and private, in the coming year. And there were no shortage of announcements in this area: Amazon’s cloud-based Kindle Fire, Apple’s iCloud, Oracle’s Public Cloud, etc. I saw an interesting presentation showing how BevMo moved their systems to the cloud. Seems like retailers are starting to consider the cloud for specific uses.
F-Commerce: I called 2011 The Year of F-Commerce, and that was probably accurate. JCPenney and ASOS both put their entire catalogs on Facebook, and lots of other retailers have connected Facebook to their e-commerce site. I still think selling from the newsfeed is the best approach, and several retailers are trying that approach as well. I just don’t see Google+ as a threat to Facebook, so I think that battle is over.
It’s good to look back at predictions, but we also have to think about what was missed. I didn’t see Amazon entering the tablet business with such a splash, although in hindsight it was obvious. Nor did I think HP would fall so far so fast.
Discussion Questions: Which retail technology trends did you see gaining traction in the past year? Were there any technology advances that surprised you?