The Future of Retail: The next step for innovation


The retail industry has been quick to embrace new immersive technologies such as VR, AR and AI. Rather than focusing on what the future of retail could look like, some innovative retailers are taking steps now to stay ahead of the curve. However, retailers still face the challenge of how to create business value while still enhancing customer value. INITION CEO Adrian Leu explains what retailers need to do.

Immersive technology experiences currently available are experiential in nature. However new technologies can provide more than just marketing experiences if used with proper application and specific scope in mind. Just as the consumer experience using VR and AR is rich for the engaged user, marketing can derive strong analytics from studying the behaviour of the user in the experience.


Once a user is immersed and fully cooperating in a virtual environment, they can provide rich data that can be used to better understand behaviour, emotional triggers and their susceptibility to specific factors, including advertising. Future wearable devices – whether these are headsets, glasses or contact lens – will be acceptable socially, ergonomic and with minimal invasiveness. New interaction paradigms such as voice, gesture, gaze and haptics are converging towards the holy grail of the “invisible interface”. Devices will also be loaded with sensors to interpret and measure what we can see: haptic, depth, thermal. Information recorded will be analysed, computed and stored in a cloud, readily available whenever needed. A contextual intelligent of physical and virtual data will enhance the way we look at the world around us. Technologies in development for measuring such data are cheaper and less cumbersome than the traditional methods now in use.

The road from invention and innovation to transformation is not always a straight line. In emerging technologies today, innovation is the ‘front-end’ and transformation represents the ‘back-end’. These systems are currently isolated from each other. Many technologies are still at the level of invention. The next step ‘innovation’ is where technologies find applications that can drive measurable results. Through continuous use, and driving sustainable growth, the technologies will be able to create pure transformation.

When you think about the experiential value that some of the technologies provide, you should also think about how to derive some service value. For the retail industry, technology gives you the opportunity to build layers of compelling service into our products. Product becomes service, and in turn service becomes experience. Products with added service layers drive positive experience, value and loyalty.