Tech Trends That Will Change the Retail Industry in the Next Decade

“The Africa train has already left the station. You are either on it or you risk becoming irrelevant.” ~ GrowthAfrica.

We live in a fortuitous time full of rare opportunities in nearly every sector. This is due to several factors converging at once, including the rapid expansion of eCommerce and the development of AI-driven tech.

Some fear that advanced technology will destroy industries like manufacturing, service, and retail.

It’s true that these industries and others will be affected.

But, we believe they’ll be transformed, not ruined, by tech.

The Forecast for Business Growth in Africa

Technologies based on machine learning have made life more convenient throughout the world.

But, they really level the playing field for entrepreneurs in developing nations, generating interest and providing an unprecedented level of opportunity for startups and investors.

In fact, six of the top 10 fastest growing economies are located on the continent. Consumer spending is expected to increase to one trillion dollars within the next year, and Africa’s urban populations spend nearly half of their incomes on consumer goods.

That bodes well for young entrepreneurs looking to expand into retail and related markets.

The digital revolution connects Africa with the outside world. It also brings the rest of the world into our domain in a positive way that benefits our emerging economies.

What better way to meet the demands of an exploding, upwardly mobile population than through tech-aided services?

Tech Advancements That Are Revolutionizing Retail

Even a decade ago, the introduction of AI, machine learning, and other advanced technologies seemed like nothing more than science fiction.

Sure, we imagined the possibilities for automation, but they were mainly limited to robotics and its impact on the manufacturing and service sectors.

These days, we’re seeing advanced technology transforming business, medicine, and finance in ways that are surprising and exhilarating.

On a broader scale that everyday people can experience are the implications for high-tech in retail.

For some time, the emphasis was on eCommerce as the shopping venue of the future. However, the more tech becomes ingrained in society, the more people long for human touch.

The store of the future makes shopping more efficient and personalized through technology, leaving people to provide much-needed human-to-human interaction.

Imagine the shop of the future, where customers can locate your store on their smartphone and receive customized offers via an app as they browse the merchandise.

Sales associates are then free to provide more attentive service that’s tailored toward the customer.

The experience will be guided by technology and personalized on a whole different level.

Front-end Service Isn’t the Only Way Tech Will Improve Retail

The Internet of Things (IoT) is already making its mark in retail establishments, with an expected global value of $35 billion USD by the end of 2020.

IoT is all about network inter-connectivity, smart devices, and extracting data in real-time rather than relying solely on historical data analysis.

There are already more than seven billion IoT devices being used today.

How is this technology deployed in a retail environment?

It’s used for:

  • Asset and inventory tracking that reduces waste and prevents loss
  • Managing supply chain and shipping logistics with tech that monitors, adjusts, and implements quality control measures
  • Monitoring customer satisfaction via sensors that provide immediate feedback at checkout
  • Predicting consumer trends and behavior intuitively to refine the customer experience in real-time

Technology is also being deployed to create a more unified environment for retail chains and grocery stores.

Advanced inventory management software can be used to configure and maintain scales, alarms, and POS systems, and then automatically start or shut them down at each location.

Because the tech is built on AI, scalability is automatic and intuitive.

This further conserves resources and controls costs. Any system errors can be noted in real-time, activating immediate alerts and initiating repairs remotely.

When staff has less on-the-spot troubleshooting and routine maintenance to worry about, they have more time for customer care.

Large-scale rollouts that once took months can be completed within days. That eliminates costs associated with business disruption and extensive downtime.

The Future of Tech In Africa

There are specific trends that will improve the state of the retail industry on the continent from 2019 and beyond, including cybersecurity.

Each is designed to make the rest of the world take notice.

Leveraging Mobile First

African consumers and businesses rely heavily on mobile use. In fact, the rise of mobile devices has led to a 460% increase in internet access and use in Mali alone.

With more information at our fingertips, African consumers are raising expectations surrounding their buyer’s journey and customer satisfaction.

This also provides e-tailers and traditional retailers with more platforms for sales and marketing. Mobile apps add value to customer service.

Using local SEO and responsive web design increases visibility and helps build your brand.

Responsive design will also improve your search engine ranking by complying with Google’s new policy of mobile-first indexing.

Embracing Alternative Payment Methods

Everyday commerce is still conducted mostly with cash and bank cards, and that will remain dominant in the foreseeable future.

But, embracing alternative currencies like crypto will eliminate some of the concerns with cash-on-hand and increase the number of transactions that are successfully completed.

Lower Cost for Newer Technologies

As technologies become more abundant and plentiful, the cost of acquiring them becomes less of a problem.

This will permit an explosion of borderless commerce and allow more local merchants to get into the game.

New platforms will also be created.

Think about concepts like omnichannel marketing and eCommerce clusters that act as hubs selling multiple brands.

Blockchain and the introduction of 5Gwill change the game even more.

Are You Ready to Become the Future of Retail?

In addition to becoming a force on the global marketplace, African nations have among the youngest populations of any other developing countries.

The combination of innovation driven by new ideas and fresh technologies will provide the foundation for today’s urban African centers to lead the way as we move farther into the 21st century.