What will the future of retail look like?

Predicting how the retail industry will look in the years to come has become a full-time job for some, with the leading global retailers and vendors employing staff in innovation and futurist roles to monitor the direction the market is headed.

Paul Wilkinson, at Tesco, is an example of this. As innovation ambassador for the UK's largest retailer, he seeks out what's new in the market and what technology is likely to impact customers' lives in the future.

Following visits to NRF and the Consumer Electronics Show earlier this year, he updated the Tesco Talking Shop blog to say that wearable technology and augmented reality solutions were two areas of particular interest, based on the content showcased at the two US trade shows.

"There is definitely a lot of potential for [wearable] devices to change how customers interact with us in the future," he wrote.

"For example, imagine being able to add products to your shopping list or your online grocery order just by looking at them and tapping your glasses, or just by saying the name of the product out loud."

It is just one example of how the retail industry could be set to change in the not-too-distant future. Technology business accelerator Eccomplished is this year working with RBTE to host the Retail Innovation Theatre, sponsored by Epson, where tech innovators will present their ideas and solutions for driving forward the new tech-focused retail industry.

One session will focus on Tomorrow's Retail World, which takes place on 12 March between 10:15-12:30 allowing RBTE visitors to discover the emerging technologies that are set to change retail forever and, potentially, redirect the industry's future.

Having been selected by RBTE's steering panel of retail thought leaders, the innovators presenting during this session are: IS2You, Kiosked, Sayduck, Sparkle cs and Vee24.

Nick Wheeler, CEO of shirt retailer Charles Tyrwhitt, will host the session, kicking off another busy day of presentations that showcase some of the freshest solutions in retail technology.

Below are some details about the companies involved, who will be tackling the issues surrounding building a seamless, world-class customer experience.

IS2You

Speaker: Luis de Matos, CEO

About the company: Imagine a world with no boundaries. A world where easy access to commercial surfaces is taken for granted.

Supermarkets will be given a revolutionary, technological refreshment. We can wonder how supermarkets will look like for people with reduced mobility. A whole shopping experience will take place. Consumers won’t have to push shopping carts any more. They’ll have autonomous shopping carts following them, right behind them, and will be communicating with them. They’ll ask the cart where the groceries are, and the cart will tell them which way to go.

At the cashier, the shopping experience will also be improved with automatic payment, even without removing the goods from the basket. Tell the cart to follow you to your car. Pack your purchases and tell the device to go back to its charging station. And then go away. We gave future’s a name. We called it "wi-GO", today’s future shopping cart.

http://en.is2you.eu/

Kiosked

Speaker: Micke Paqvalén, CEO and co-founder

About the company: Kiosked is a leading platform for enabling smart content. Kiosked turns any online content, images, videos and applications into interactive and viral storefronts.

Kiosked has been selected as one of the world’s best technology companies and won many major advertising and design awards. Kiosked enables brands to turn their content into storefronts and engage directly with their fans everywhere. Equally publishers can monetise the impulses they generate through Kiosked content.

http://www.kiosked.com/

Sayduck

Speaker: Mikko Martikainen, CEO

About the company: Sayduck is dedicated to enhancing the shopping experience. Sayduck Virtual Showroom Platform is the catalyst for consumers to make an informed purchasing decision and for brands to increase sales.

We bring products to life using augmented reality and allow consumers to experience, engage with and place products in their intended environment before buying. Our customers cover industries ranging from furniture and design to architecture, fashion and media.

http://www.sayduck.com/

Sparkle cs

About the company: We are an innovative company with big ideas on revolutionising a market hindered by vested interests, manual processes and gross inefficiencies.

Our vision is to unlock the retail high street by providing a extensible framework where retailers of every size can collaborate effectively with brands and their agents to drive their data driven marketing strategies, safe from fraud, vendor lock-in or unrealistic costs.

http://www.sparkle-cs.com/

Vee24

About the company: Vee24 is a global provider of web-based customer engagement solutions. The company offers simple and seamless ways for brands to connect with their customers over the web, on mobile devices, and in stores using voice, video, text, and co-browsing.

Vee24 provides live help solutions to some of the world's best known brands, and have helped clients not only in providing a superior customer experience, but also in impacting key business metrics such as online conversion, average order value, and customer loyalty.

http://www.vee24.com/

The other Retail Innovation Theatre sessions set to be covered over the course of the two days at RBTE are, as follows: Physical Retail Reinvented; Customer Centric Commerce; Customer Experience Transformed; Delivering The Promise; Unlocking International Markets.

The Innovation Theatre is free for visitors to attend, although pre-registration is recommended to secure your seat in what will be a packed-out theatre. Find out more information on the RBTE website.

Over the coming weeks, Essential Retail will be profiling each individual challenge set to be addressed at the Innovation Theatre.