This time last year we discussed how products like Apple Pay and Windows 10 would be the hot topics of 2015.
This year, Laura Barnes delves deeper into how the retail experience will change over the next 12 months, and which product markets will continue to grow in 2016…
This year has certainly been an exciting one in the tech industry. Cloud services, IoT and the connected home are just a few areas that have made big waves in the market.
But what tech can we expect to see emerging in the New Year, and how will the relationship between retailers and their customers evolve?
First off, we look at what product categories are driving growth across the IT sector right now.
“We are seeing strong growth in tablet keyboards and stylus pens with these categories showing year-on-year volume growth figures of 13 per cent and 51 per cent respectively,” Richard Peak, account director for IT at GfK, tells PCR.
“Next are the areas such as USB storage drives (with year-on-year volume growth of 10 per cent), solid state drives (39 per cent), repeaters that extend Wi-Fi reach (43 per cent) and media gateways (49 per cent).”
Peak says that only time will tell how long these areas will continue to shine, with wearable technology also set for bumper growth this Christmas and the New Year as well.
Marta Fiorentini, senior European research analyst for Personal Computing at IDC EMEA, adds: “This Christmas, consumers will be offered a lot of products in the computing area with new designs and improved performance, thanks to the significant technology improvements made possible by advancements in processor technology, such as Intel’s 6th gen of processors, and operating systems (Windows 10). Businesses are expected to enjoy a similar enhanced product offering later in 2016.
“In the tablet category, detachable devices will continue to enjoy rising popularity among consumers and prosumers, as they successfully combine mobility and productivity or content creation functionalities.
“Detachable tablets have proved to be popular among businesses as well. 2016 will see the penetration of these devices fast increasing in enterprises, driven by the introduction of the iPad Pro and the launch of Microsoft Surface 4 and Surface Book (the first with Windows 10 and a Skylake processor) as well other devices by major PC manufacturers like HP, Lenovo and Dell.”
IDC forecasts that in Western Europe, detachable tablets will account for over 35 per cent of total shipments of commercial tablets by the end of 2016, up from 23 per cent in 2015.
Fiorentini says this will be due to detachable form factors gaining traction in the commercial space, as they are bought to replace notebook and tablet PCs.
Additionally, Juniper Research has identified 2016 as a ‘watershed’ year for VR headsets both in terms of product launches and consumer rollouts.
“Oculus, Sony, and HTC are amongst the leading players expected to launch key VR products over the next 12 months,” says the firm. “The recent attention to and investment into virtual reality is helping to revitalise the industry and with major brand commercial launches imminent, there is huge potential for rapid market expansion.”
On the retail front, D-Link’s UKI retail account manager Tim Shaw, reveals that one of the most notable trends taking place at retail is the split of ‘smart’ categories into further sub categories such as wearable/fitness and
“With the increase in consumer understanding and the ease of app-based technology for consumers’ smartphones, retailers can now cross-sell a wider range of IP connected devices, which will continue to expand as the Internet of Things further commercialises,” Shaw says.
“Alongside this we have seen the development of in-store point of sale and online content. This is part of the omni-channel solution to assist in explaining how new products work, and their benefits.”
NEW YEAR, NEW TRENDS
While we can see what products and approaches are set to increase in popularity over the next year, SanDisk’s chief technologist of enterprise solutions EMEA Steve Wharton has outlined some of the new tech that we can expect to see in 2016.
“3D technology will be the next wave for flash technology development. In 2016, we’ll begin to see 3D flash starting to infuse flash-enabled devices and systems with high levels of performance and storage capacity,” he reveals.
“The end result? More storage inside laptops and smartphones, speed and precision in Big Data processing, near real-time online experiences – and increased momentum toward the Internet of Things (IoT).”
Wharton also believes that flash will continue to penetrate the enterprise, with those all-flash environments leading to a massive boost in app response times and performance.
He also expects Software Defined Storage (SDS) will go mainstream next year, and networking will continue to get faster.
Despite some believing 5G will be a major focus next year, TrendForce expects smartphone shipment growth to slow. The analyst also expects the sales of industrial robots worldwide is projected to grow 15 per cent in 2015 and 10 per cent in 2016, totalling 264,000 and 290,000 units respectively.
Elsewhere, weak demand will continue to drag down DRAM prices, says TrendForce. It predicts Samsung will maintain its lead and put “considerable pressure” on its competitors by migrating to the 18nm process.
Other growth areas to keep an eye on in 2016 include eSports, wearables and security. Expect further consolidation in the tech distribution space, new security models to emerge, and crowdfunding sites to help grow start-up firms.
The CEO of software group Detego, Uwe Hennig, who has 20 years of experience in logistics, in-store, and mobile retail, believes the industry’s move towards digital will continue to increase in the retail space in 2016.
Speaking about new retail strategies, he explains: “A positive consumer experience is at the forefront of retailers’ strategies, in particular the fashion and electronics sector are pushing for a seamless omni-channel experience. Consumers are expecting to be able to purchase goods online, or reserve in-store, and to do so, retailers must know the specific product availability in each store at that exact moment.”
Shaw agrees that an omni-channel approach will continue to become the norm in 2016. “The online consumer channel is obviously an incredibly competitive marketplace. However, in a lot of cases, retail and etail overlap as more companies begin to drive their own online presence,” he adds.
“We have seen many of our retail customers – that already have incredibly strong retail presence across the UK – increase the range of products available through their online presence, allowing them to grow through sales that would not have taken place on the High Street.
“There’s certainly a shift toward retailers generating a greater share of their turnover year-on-year through online, and to me this shift is representative of the modern successful company that is able to adapt to change.”
Hennig also says that retailers will benefit from a ‘dramatic change in the process of payments’.
“2016 will see a huge surge in the functionality of POS through payment via smartphone or smartwatch. Additionally, mobile POS with credit card readers can offer the retailer flexibility and the chance to change their store setup,” he tells PCR.
“Retailers no longer need to devote so much floor space for tills when everything is becoming mobile based. Store set up and the positioning of shelves and displays will become more flexible as the POS becomes linked with the customer’s exact location.
"The customer will no longer have to queue, leading to a fully functional omnichannel experience.”