Consultancy firm Futurice has predicted five ways retail will change by 2020, in its latest retail trends report.
It has identified eight key IT, cultural and social trends driving change in the retail sector, here’s our pick of five below:
1. Consumers will become VIPs
Digital services are allowing mass consumers to access luxurious experiences at the click of a button, which were previously the preserve of the rich and famous, says Futurice.
"Retailers are under starters’ orders to provide personalised services that make consumers feel special," the firm said in a statement. "The culture of mass celebrity is fuelled by social channels which enables ordinary people to become overnight YouTube or Instagram sensations. How can retailers respond appropriately?"
In short, services are going to broaden and consumers’ expectations are going to continue to rise.
2. Time will impact the buying decision more
Consumers will be more focused on time and convenience in the future – that’s a given.
"Retailers must offer flexible delivery services and instant purchase apps," Futurice said in a statement. "Free time will become a luxury purchase with the rise of micro task services that allow consumers to outsource tedious jobs and buy themselves more leisure time."
3. New transaction methods will emerge
From Bitcoin to contactless, and Paypal to credit card, there are more ways than ever to pay for goods.
"Money is being reinvented as retailers seek frictionless payment systems including paying with your smile – all focused on convenience and ease," Futurice explained.
"New transaction methods are spawning new forms of currency, with mobile payments leading the way.
"Retailers should look for ways to monetise the auxiliary activities around payments, while loyalty and reward schemes must keep pace with emerging trends.
4. Rise of the robots
Expect more robots at retail – increased automation in the form of robotics could take care of self-service checkouts to warehouse logistics.
Futurice said: "Beyond retail, robots are being trialled everywhere from construction to cookery to surgical operations. As we increasingly outsource menial jobs to robots, how will retailers rise to the challenge of monetising our free time?"
5. Collaboration, not competition
Collaboration can help drive innovation in the future, the consultancy group said.
"Collaboration not competition is the new order of things, as businesses join forces to create new ways to meet consumers’ fast changing expectations," Futurice added.
"Expect unusual partnerships and the emergence of larger service ecosystems designed to satisfy customers’ needs flexibly and fast."
More stats and facts
Elsewhere, Gartner has said that more than $1 trillion in IT spending will be directly or indirectly affected by the shift to cloud by 2020.
"Cloud-first strategies are the foundation for staying relevant in a fast-paced world," said Ed Anderson, research vice president at Gartner.
"The market for cloud services has grown to such an extent that it is now a notable percentage of total IT spending, helping to create a new generation of start-ups and ‘born in the cloud’ providers."
The BRC has also revealed that retailers are reducing staff in the UK as conditions remain tough.
The equivalent number of full time jobs fell by 2.4 per cent compared with the same quarter a year ago.
In the second quarter of 2016, the number of outlets also fell by 0.4 per cent compared with the same quarter a year ago.
Helen Dickinson OBE, chief executive at the British Retail Consortium, said: "Today’s figures show that full time equivalent employment in the retail industry has fallen at its fastest rate since the second quarter of 2014.
"The number of stores in the UK has also fallen again, albeit at a slower rate than we have previously seen. This continues to show the dramatic structural changes that are underway in the retail industry."