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Wednesday 11 December 2019


Payments Awards 2019

Brain-computing and AR: Salmon predicts retail future

Written by Peter Walker

Brain-computing, augmented reality (AR) and legal shoplifting are set to change the face of retail in 2019, according to Salmon, a Wunderman Commerce company.

The consultancy’s latest report focused on five of the core technologies and trends that are set to affect the world of commerce and how it will look in the future.

New forms of transactions are making the payment journey increasingly seamless and are bridging the gap between online and offline purchasing, stated the report. The Amazon Go concept, which does away with the check out, could be coming to the UK this year, so Salmon said that in preparation, retailers and brands need to identify better, faster, frictionless and more innovative ways to check out.

AR, virtual reality (VR) and mixed reality (MR) are finally set to make an impact on retail, due to better integration into web browsers, according to Salmon. Companies no longer need to build expensive apps, and customers are no longer required to download them in order to take advantage of the possibilities of AR.

This development means that AR will become more mainstream and integrated into online sites and accessed simply with the click of a button. However, as with lots of online experiences, they’re only as good as the content that can be accessed, the report cautioned.

With pure-plays being inherently versed in data utilisation, Salmon predicted this year will see them bring their data-based knowledge from online to bricks and mortar, to revolutionise the physical world of retail.

Despite the popularity of e-commerce, Salmon research indicates that 24 per cent of online shoppers continue to want a physical experience when they shop.

“Ultimately, it is using its online customers to curate its physical store stock, and in so doing, providing assurance to a generation of shoppers versed in ‘showrooming’,” the report noted.

Looking past voice and zero user interface (UI), the next stage is the ultimate zero-UI, where the brain-computer interface will shortcut the time from thought to action and revolutionise how we shop.

In 2017, Facebook predicted that within the next few years its developers would create a system that would let users type with their thoughts three times faster than they could type with a smartphone keyboard. The social media giant is now building brain-computer interfaces for typing and ‘skin hearing’, and the current tech allows for about eight words per minute to be typed.

Although Salmon admitted that this is not a technology that will be rolled out just yet - as most of these advances require invasive surgery - the consultancy suggested that it will not be too long until consumers only have to think about what they want to order online, and it will turn up at their door.

Salmon finally suggested that the traditional identifiers of brands are becoming much less visible, following the rise of voice commerce, and the growth in marketplaces - Amazon and eBay - both of which have minimal branding and allow for automated purchasing. As a result, Salmon stated that brands must be more inventive in how they create and retain equity in a world where they are no longer seen.

Hugh Fletcher, global head of innovation and consultancy at Salmon, said: “It’s no easy task to decipher which technologies currently in development will be relevant for their business in years to come.

“Exciting new innovations such as brain-computing may be in their infancy, but they should still be on the radar for retailers; those who are the first to take advantage of cutting-edge tech within commerce will be the ones to reap the benefits,” he continued, adding: “By understanding the wider and longer-term trends however, brands and retailers can begin to invest in the infrastructure they will need today, which will enable them to deliver the commerce experiences their customers will be demanding in the future.”

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