Retailers are in a continual battle to retain market share and margins. Brexit is, of course, in focus, bringing margin pressure and potential volatility, especially at the discretionary end.
The good news is that UK retail sales bounced in April with a 2.3% jump after some weakness in Q1.
Behind the scenes, a plethora of new start-ups have been emerging in the retail technology space, with a notable concentration in location analytics and proximity marketing and the use of Internet of Things hardware and/or smartphone sensing software to track shoppers throughout the store.
While established retail technology players will continue to focus around the central/core retail systems, flexible (notably core retail system agnostic) niche software plays, however speculative, present excellent opportunities for both retailers and investors to capitalise on new technologies bringing value (or hype) to the space.
Brick-and-mortar retail is a high-stakes business. And, while it might seem as if e-commerce has taken over, Americans still do roughly 90% of our shopping in physical stores. In fact, one of the latest trends in retail is the launch of physical stores by digital-native companies, including Amazon, Bonobos, and Warby Parker. To help retailers bridge the gap between digital and physical commerce, and keep up with e-commerce competitors, dozens of startups have developed in-store technology ranging from shelf-stocking robots, to augmented reality displays, to Wi-Fi-based beacons that collect data on shopper behavior. Many companies focus on optimizing existing store operations with the injection of cloud-based software and mobile apps, helping retailers manage things like employee scheduling, mobile payments, coupons, and shelf stocking.