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Demandware: Automation will drive 2016 retail IT growth


E-commerce platform provider Demandware has released its annual list of retail predictions for 2016, and many of them center on how machines will continue taking over tasks once done by people.

Out of the nine trends Demandware identifies, four are related to growing IT automation: machine learning driving voice-based intelligence assistants, in-store payment evolving dramatically, data-driven decision marketing replacing gut instinct, and last-mile fulfillment providers driving instant gratification.

Specifically, Demandware predicts that machine learning will expand beyond shopper personalization to provide retailers with a Siri-like intelligence assistant that pops up occasionally with insights and recommendations. Swiping, typing and tapping be largely replaced by voice commands. This will help make personalization such a fundamental part of the shopping experience that consumers will no longer notice it.

In addition, Demandware expects in-store payment to become much more automated through mobile POS systems, beacons, sensors and other touchless technology, and for data-driven decision-making and data scientists to minimize the importance of or even replace merchants.

And last-mile fulfillment providers, including automated services like self-driving Google Cars, are expected to become a more popular way of instantly gratifying consumers and better competing with Amazon Prime delivery.

Most of Demandware’s other predictions for 2016 focus on the continued evolution of digital commerce, Demandware expects Gen Z (age 12-17) to become a larger percentage of North American online commerce, aided by the ease of mobile payment, and for Alibaba to struggle in the face of increased competition from other Chinese e-commerce retailers and brands themselves.

Demandware also expects “omnichannel” to become an antiquated term as most consumers start shopping using multiple channels. The vendors expects a term like “unified commerce,” representing a single commerce platform that gives retailers a unified view of customers, and inventory across all channels, to take precedence.

The last two predictions focus more on retailer’s internal dynamics: a renewed focus on push marketing and organizational realignment to deliver effectively on the omnichannel (or unified) promise.

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