2010 Predictions for Retail

Now is the time of year people make their predictions for next year, so I'll take a crack at making 10 predictions for 2010.

1. Borders and Blockbuster bite the dust. I would have never predicted a strong brand such as Circuit City could die, but now I know it can happen to anyone. Borders has lost the battle with Barnes & Noble and Blockbuster has lost to Netflix. And just to be sure, Amazon put an extra nail in each coffin.

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2. Every retailer finally has a page on Facebook... but very few figure out how to keep fans engaged. Retailer postings become noise, and fans start to unsubscribe. Twitter goes in the same direction. A few standout retailers will figure out how to use social media, and the rest will remain dumbfounded.

3. Smartphones consolidate and grow. More and more people will step-up to smartphones, most of which will choose iPhone, Blackberry, and Android phones. Other smartphones will vanish, and networks will start to strain. But retailers will finally embrace mobile as the next big channel. Retail marketing departments will build mobile apps without the help of their IT department, and eventually they will get into a bind.

4. Google helps the little guys. Google will push its Favorite Places project to help give exposure to small retailers and restaurants. They will enable small retailers to act like big ones by providing storefronts, detailed product information, and coupons for consumers. Google will find a way to bring augemented reality to the masses.

5. Steve Jobs Is Bugs Bunny and Steve Ballmer is Elmer Fudd. (OK, I stole that headline from an InformationWeek article. I couldn't resist.) Both Apple and Microsoft will continue to open new stores, but only Apple will show real growth. POSReady 2009 (formerly WEPOS) will continue to share the POS market with Linux. The iPhone and iPod will continue to capture market share, but there won't be an Apple tablet.

6. Consolidation of e-commerce software providers. Software vendors in the areas of search, reviews, online call-centers, payments, and e-commerce will consolidate, partly driven by the success of m-commerce and SaaS. Amazon will find someone else to buy, and eBay will continue to lose momentum.

7. Book publishers mirror music labels. Just as the iPod brought digital downloads to the masses, the Kindle and Nook will power the e-book revolution. Books will continue to use DRM for a few more years before following the path of music. Publishers will try to preserve the margins of hardbacks by associating e-book releases with paperbacks.

8. NFC makes inroads, RFID treads water. Near Field Communications start to appear in mobile phones, and retailers beta test its use for payments and loyalty programs. RFID tag costs come down a bit, but not enough to spur accelerated adoption.

9. Digital Signage goes the way of augmented reality. People use their camera phones to leave geo-tagged notes all over cities, rating stores and restaurants, and "painting" graffiti. But people get tired of holding their phones in front of their faces, so AR glasses are offered in much the same way bluetooth headsets emerged. Retailers experiement with in-store advertising using AR.

10. JDA flip-flops again. After announcing their embracing of the .Net architecture, then switching to J2EE after the Manugistics acquisition, JDA will finally decide to standardize on Apple's Objective C. Everything will be ported to the iPhone and be available on the AppStore. After all, there's not much left to try.

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David Dorf, Sr Director Technology Strategy for Oracle Retail, shares news and ideas about the retail industry with a focus on innovation and emerging technologies.


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