The changing state of Retail

New Retail

How Exponential Technologies are disrupting Retail

Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Companies like Microsoft and Google are known for having defined an ‘AI first’ strategy, but what could this look like in a retailer’s context?

With the retail industry seeing the largest increase in AI adoption, let’s explore a few prominent use cases.

  • Customer service automation

  • Voice shopping

Walmart voice shopping

  • Voice payments

Starbucks - Samsung Bixby

  • Automated checkout

  • Predictive analytics


One of blockchain’s main applications in retail lies in supply chain management and increasing visibility across the entire value chain. Retailers can benefit from more accurate sales forecasting and improved inventory management.

Let’s have a more in-depth look at some of the technology’s use cases.

  • Origin tracing & product authenticity

  • Automated inventory management & logistics

  • Tokenized loyalty programs

  • Reclaimed data ownership

Internet of Things (IoT)

Besides AI, the emerging technology retailers today are most actively invested in is the Internet of Things. This trend is likely to continue in the years to come as it’s fundamental to creating a more customer-centric retail environment.

The real opportunity of IoT lies in the intelligence created by combining sensor data analytics with corporate data. Let’s look at what this could result into.

  • Self-checkout

  • Store layout optimization

  • Efficient inventory management

  • Data-centric fleet management

  • Smart energy management

  • Risk & fraud prevention

  • Predictive maintenance

  • Personalized messaging & product recommendations

Rebecca Minkoff AlwaysOn handbag

Augmented Reality (AR) & Virtual Reality (VR)

Augmented reality and virtual reality are the disruptive technologies best understood by the general public, mainly due to the frenzy around Pokémon GO. Although not new, both AR and VR have the opportunity to truly create an immersive shopping experience.

With Apple ARKit, Google ARCore and Facebook AR Studio on the playing field we’ve started to move beyond gaming and the often gimmicky or marketing campaign-based use cases.

  • Storytelling

  • Try before you buy

Sephora Virtual Artist

  • Virtual store

  • In-store navigation

DHL Vision Picking

  • Staff training

3D Printing

Smart manufacturing is revolutionizing the supply chain, helping reduce cost and time to market. In the retail industry the application of 3D printing is still limited with its prime use cases yet to be discovered. Let’s explore what added value increased adoption could bring.

  • Accelerated product development

Chanel 3D printed mascara brushes
Adidas 3D printed footwear

  • Consumer-designed products

3D printing wedding rings
Three-axis tourbillon

  • Production on demand


Currently, the use of robots in retail is mostly associated with customer service and logistics.

A few of the technology’s most popular use cases are highlighted below.

  • Automated inventory management

  • Shelf-scanning and stocking

  • Enhanced customer service

  • Last-mile delivery

  • Collaborative robots

The Future of Retail? Let’s explore what the next decade might bring

  • Scenario 1: Print-on-demand

  • Scenario 2: Voice as an extension of ourselves

  • Scenario 3: Store as a destination