John Lewis on retail technology trends in 2019

Retail is ever changing and it’s difficult to predict what might happen next year, let alone further ahead. There are emerging trends and technologies which are already impacting how customers interact with high street retailers, and might one day play a vital role in how we shop.

Voice Technology

We’ve already seen growth in people searching for products by voice and expect that this will continue in the coming year. The next phase of voice search will enable people to find items however they describe them and in any language. Brands may take this a step further. Instead of apps, websites, and mobile responsive checkouts – brands will focus on creating a single interface so that consumers can do it all in one go, simply by using their voice. According to research from Gartner, by the year 2020 30% of web searches will be done without a screen.

It is only natural to expect that the technical capabilities of voice search will dramatically improve in 2019, but the reality is advanced voice will take longer than just a few months to come into play. Ultimately what we could see in the coming years is a ‘brandless’ future, as consumers will most likely be searching by product rather than the label. This should give brands motivation to improve their current customer experience to ensure that consumers are searching specially for their product, rather than the item generally.

Personalised shopping

Personalised shopping experiences will also become more popular as we move into 2019. We have already seen AR introduced by various fashion retailers as well as services such as after-hours private shopping, but one day we’ll get to a point where smart home tech will act as your own shopper, alerting retailers in advance when you’re looking for a product. Next up could be the tech itself ordering products based on data. For example, calculating that you are about to run out of milk or haven’t bought a regular item in a while.

In the short term, science is fuelling the creation of truly personalised services. In 2019, we could reach a point where customers are able to share their DNA with shops so that retailers can tailor products to a customer’s genetics or ancestry. Waitrose is embracing this type of innovation by testing DnaNudge, an app which will use shoppers’ DNA to help them make healthier choices while food shopping. Another example is OME Health one of the businesses that entered the JLAB programme this year, which offers science based health plans built on a person’s gut microbiome, genetics blood markers and other health data.

Creating outstanding experiences for customers is so important for the retail sector right now and this is exactly why we will be focusing on experiential for the next JLAB challenge.