Privacy, transparency and speed all factor prominently in retail tech trends for 2020.
Nielsen has released seven predictions for how technology will affect retailers and their CPG partners in 2020 and the decade beyond. The data analytics company anticipates that 2020 will represent an inflection point for trust and transparency, 5G, and time to purchase in the U.S. retail and consumer landscape.
High-level predictions include the following:
1. Privacy concerns and misinformation will threaten brand credibility. Big retail and CPG brands will have to confront and counteract the consequences of social network attacks, such as activists using “deepfake” (the realistic superimposing of images and videos) to destroy the credibility of a brand.
2. Transparency will be tomorrow's brand currency. Interest in what was previously considered “behind-the-scenes” information about a company's operational footprint will become mainstream topics of conversation. This will create opportunities for companies across industries to grow trust and authenticity while delivering on the need for urgent action on climate change.
3. Manufacturers will produce locally to win globally. With the dual impact of tariffs and consumer preference for locally sourced products and waste reduction, manufacturers will face increased pressure to produce locally and import fewer goods. Supply chains will continue to be realigned to deliver on consumers' increasing desire for sustainable products.
4. Smart supply chains will anticipate and react to consumer demands. As retailers increasingly focus on owning the supply chain from start to finish and grow their private label brands, the industry will gradually shift to more granular, end-to-end supply chain analytics. Brands and retailers will succeed not based on their front-end pricing and promotion analytics, but the granularity and end-to-end depth of their data science.
5. 5G will revolutionize the Internet of Things (IoT) for retail. With 5G, the IoT will finally become a mainstream reality, providing end consumers with access to more data with virtually no response delay. This will mean consumers are less limited in their ability to come to an informed decision about retailers and brands they want to patronize. Meanwhile, 5G will transform smart packaging and delivery through applications like smart sensors that can collect real-time data to ensure viable internal package conditions for food and medications.
6. Time and trust will dictate consumer relationships with retail. From pop-up shops with cashier-less payment to automated warehouses in urban centers, fusing the overall consumer experience with smarter, intuitive tech is the future. Speed and convenience will drive consumer behavior to the millisecond.
7. Try-before-you-buy will come into consumer homes. Augmented reality (AR) technologies will improve, and 5G will indirectly reduce barriers to entry, based on the shift to cloud and enablement of smartphones to be AR devices. Mobile, AR-based buying will reach a critical mass — and increase pressure on brick-and-mortar retailers to keep consumers coming back with experiential benefits.
"The true value of today's emerging technologies has remained in the hype cycle for much of retail and CPG, but the dawn of a new decade will see a rapid acceleration in meaningful use cases," said Jeanne Danubio, president, Nielsen Connect, North America. "From the transformative effect of 5G to the increase in frictionless commerce — all underpinned by trust and transparency — the consumer landscape will become increasingly complex. We are eager to continue providing our clients with the data to decide, thereby shaping a smarter market for our clients, in 2020 and beyond."