CES 2020 was, by many accounts, not so different from past events. However, there were a few notable trends to follow – some that could have a lasting impact on retail in the future. If you think we’re talking about VR and AR, think again. These trends are focused on the slightly less sexy – but infinitely more valuable – progress around data monetization, 5G and frictionless checkout.
Here’s a quick rundown of what we heard and saw:
People everywhere are becoming more aware of the fact that their personal data is valuable, and they’re beginning to seek more control over what brands take – and what they, the consumers, receive in exchange. Laws like GDPR and the CCPA are likely to become more common around the US and elsewhere, giving consumers more control over what data they provide and how it’s stored and used. This was a big topic at CES, since more and more electronics are IoT-connected and fueled by data.
While many companies may be concerned about this trend, it should be viewed not so much as a roadblock but as a shift in course. Consumers may want to exercise control over the collection of their personal data, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t willing to share: A recent Harris Poll shows that 54 percent of younger shoppers are willing to give up personal information with brands if it will be used to create a personalized experience. That number rises to 72 percent for Gen Z (72 percent) and 70 percent for Millennials. However, these consumers, as part of that exchange of data, expect transparency, with 74 percent saying it’s very important or absolutely essential brands tell them what information is being collected.
The net-net here is that retail brands need to adapt their policies to allow for permission-based data. While some may seek to simply be in compliance with new laws, the best plan is to get ahead of legislation and figure out how you can offer value in exchange for permission-based customer data. Whether that means more personalized experiences, more beneficial loyalty programs or something else for your brand, it’s best to start planning now.
5G is (almost) finally here!
Last year’s CES showcased a lot of 5G phones, and this year’s boasted a ton of 5G-ready laptops…but there’s really not much use for any of those until 5G is rolled out across all networks, nationwide.
5G will fuel many of the technologies we’ve been hoping to see for years: streamlined logistics (featuring warehouse robots, of course), use of VR and AR to promote products or try them out (you can do everything from trying new makeup colors to seeing if a sofa will suit your living room), even drone deliveries. While there hasn’t been a tremendous display of new 5G products at CES this year, it’s still very much a theme, since it will power so many emerging retail technologies. Importantly, 5G will make it easier for retailers to tie together their data sources, enabling them to create more powerful and relevant customer experiences.
Frictionless checkout options expand
As consumers finally begin accepting self-checkout kiosks, 5G will enable even more in-store payment options. If stores like Amazon Go are the goal, 5G will put retailers on the path. Not only will mobile payments be easier to support, retailers will find it easier to set up checkout kiosks around the store – or simply set out more floor staff with mobile payment devices, reducing lines and moving customers in and out of the store more quickly.
Beyond that, there are opportunities to improve the retail experience for every customer – even those who aren’t in a hurry to check out and head home. As Dealerscope envisioned last year, “Imagine walking into a grocery store, looking for an item, being guided to the exact location via in-store directions that are displayed in (augmented reality) on a smartphone or through a smart glasses experience, and when you get to the item – maybe a container of medicine or vitamins – the ingredients are displayed there in front of you, and instantaneously, you’re alerted to potential ingredients in the product that could flare up some allergy that you have, thus preventing you from a scary medical emergency.”
Technology like that could be lifesaving, and also very convenient in other contexts. Imagine buying a can of tomatoes, and being offered recipes that include other foods already in your basket? Or scanning a sound system, and being reminded to purchase the cables and peripherals that are required to connect to your current system?
In recent years, it’s been common to hear the refrain “every company is a tech company now” at CES – and it’s true. The retail industry is acutely aware of this; digital transformation hit early and hard. The lesson we must remember every year is to use technology wisely and for the benefit of our customers. That’s how we make the tech trends highlighted at CES work in our favor.