As personalised consumer-centric experiences are fundamentally changing the way we shop, high street retail stores are not dying, but they are definitely changing. With this comes opportunities for the sector but also significant risks, according to insights from leading law firm Russell McVeagh.
Special Counsel Liz Blythe says that retail is becoming increasingly omnichannel with the new high street no longer distinguishing between online and offline customers, and physical stores becoming highly integrated, with digital platforms designed to encapsulate the best of both online and offline worlds.
This technology-driven customer experience is allowing retailers to engage with customers by adapting to shoppers’ preferences and customising online and in-store interactions prior to, during and post purchase. Technology is improving customer experience in almost every aspect of the retail supply chain, which is in turn, driving even higher expectations from shoppers.
“Drone technology, for instance, potentially offers faster, more flexible and less expensive delivery options, and we are also seeing continued investment in automated warehousing, robotics, AI demand planning and consolidated online and offline inventory systems. Payment is another aspect of retail undergoing change,” she says.
While this highly-connected and personalised brand of retail presents significant opportunity, it also gives rise to potential risks:
|1. Data Protection||An enormous amount of personal information is required in order to deliver the depth of personalisation that omnichannel retail boasts. However, in collecting and processing so much personal data, organisations will need to be careful to comply with applicable privacy and data protection legislation, including in some cases, Europe’s new General Data Protection Regulation.|
|2. Security Vulnerabilities||The highly digitalised nature of omnichannel retail makes cyber risk especially relevant, particularly when combined with the vast amounts of personal information involved in the provision of the service, and use of cloud service platforms and connected devices.|
|3. Ethical use of AI and Emerging Tech||The use of AI-powered digital advisors and analytical marketing tools to target and influence consumers has sparked widespread international debate regarding the ethical use of AI and also called into question issues around the attribution of liability when things go wrong.|