This year, technology has enabled brands and customers to interact like never before. We have witnessed a retail revolution; the conversation between eCommerce and their shoppers has never before been this fluid.

So it came as no surprise that the Tech London Advocate community put retail technology as the front-runner for the UK’s next billion-dollar tech company. Retail tech companies such as Orpiva, Reward Technology and NotOnTheHighStreet.com have exploded onto the scene, igniting a new generation of digital disruptors.

This trend shows no sign of slowing down. From click & collect to increased personalisation, in 2016 we will continue to see the impact of technology in retail.

1. Click & collect

Delivery has long been the friction point in eCommerce for both the retailer and the consumer. According to Deloitte, in the UK alone the cost to retailers of failed first-time delivery is over £600 million per year.

In 2015 the rise of click & collect came as no surprise, seeing as it seemingly offers the best of both worlds: a convenient wealth of choice in selection, at a reduced cost. Consumers are offered additional accessibility, hopefully encouraging them to buy more; retailers avoid the cost of delivery to the home, and can utilise existing space.

2016 will take this endorsement one step further by making it the year the high street truly merges with online retail. Due to its convenience both the consumer and retailers will move deeper into this trend, with more collection points popping up across the high street. This trend will also inadvertently support the UK’s high street by getting people out and about and physically into the shops.

A win for retail and a win for the consumer.

2. Building better relationships

In 2015, new innovations were also transforming the relationship between retailers and their customers, making them closer than ever before.

The way we communicate our reviews is getting faster and more reactive as our love-affair with blogs, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook continues. As consumers, we have never felt more comfortable about expressing our thoughts publically, which has led to the creation of more efficient reviewing platforms. For example, truRating allows customers to give instant feedback to retailers, providing them with real and rapid insight into their business.

3. Tailored shopping experience

As a result, retailers are now under pressure to impress the individual and have started to use technology to specifically tailor every shopping experience.

Reward Technology allows targeted offers to be delivered as soon as a customer enters the store.

Fits.me solves the ‘try before you buy’ problem with online shopping, by allowing customers to virtually try on items of clothing.

FarFetch provides retailers with a ‘curated centralised and global marketplace’, cutting across cultural and linguistic boundaries through culturally-specific personalisations and helping boutique brands reach an international audience with their unique products.

The one thing that unites these successful tech businesses is their desire to enhance the user’s experience; in 2016 we will inch further into this pattern. Customers will expect more, and retailers will provide more, shaping the shopping experience around the needs and requirements of the consumer.

4. Growth

Taking all of these trends into consideration, one thing is for certain - there is no doubt retail tech will grow rapidly in 2016. This is precisely why Tech London Advocates launched its own retail technology working group this year; we are witnessing a critical mass of retail tech entrepreneurs establishing themselves in London and we must provide a supporting network to ensure that the prosper.

What we’re seeing today is only the start of a new wave of retail revolution that will dominate headlines in the years to come. However, it is crucial that we sustain the momentum behind retail technology to ensure its continued success.

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Tech London Advocates