Technology plays a vital role in all retail industries. Let us look at some of the most important trends in food, clothing, travel, and entertainment.
Food: Variety and Information
One of the industries hit the hardest by the covid-19 global pandemic has been food. In the past year and a half or so, dozens of restaurants and other food retailers have either closed their doors completely, shut down several of their branches, or are currently standing at the brink of bankruptcy. There are several reasons for this, chief among them is the simple fact that people have not been able to go outside, especially to engage in non-essential activities such as dining out with their families and celebrating important occasions and events with their friends.
Still, plenty of large and small business owners in the food industry have been able to adapt and managed to keep their organizations afloat. This has only been possible because of the existing technologies we have at our disposal. For instance, a diner, a bar, or an all-day breakfast cafe is now not only equipped with a modern, visually appealing website but also electronic gift cards and coupons, online delivery services in a wide range of menus and food options, and corporate social media accounts for customers to interact with both each other and the business, read and write reviews, share cooking tips and favorite dishes, and generally take part in an inclusive, fun dining experience.
Clothing: More Than Just Seasonal
A shirt is a shirt. No matter how you look at it, there are no two ways around it. It is not a pair of shoes, a handbag, or a belt. The same is true for a hat, a winter coat, a tie, or a pair of boxer shorts. In essence, specific items of clothing serve specific purposes, based primarily on activity and season. For example, a pair of running shoes are meant to be used by athletes on their daily jogs and five kilometers runs. Likewise, a beanie is most often seen in Autumn and Winter in countries with four distinct seasons.
Yet, we are currently experiencing a clear shift in perception. Aside from multi-functional items that people can wear irrespective of temperature and weather conditions, several clothing labels and other enterprises are incorporating technology into their designs, mechanisms that not only improve wearability but also blend seamlessly with a person’s unique body, creating a warm feeling of ease and comfort. Examples of this are Heattech by Japanese retail giant Uniqlo, and Nike’s Nike+ iPhone sensor, which allows runners to track distance traveled, calories burned, proper form, and even mood changes.
Travel: Convenience and Affordability
Back in 1999, the Concorde supersonic airliner was still flying between Paris, London, several cities in the United States, and a few destinations in Asia. At the time, companies like British Airways and Air France offered their high-end customers the chance of a lifetime. For a very high ticket price, they would fly to at least four or five different locales across the globe on December 31st, 1999, thus experiencing the advent of the new millennium in more than one place.
Needless to say, only a few individuals were able to afford the exorbitant prices, and a few years later, the entire Concorde project was decommissioned, finally putting the nail on the coffin of faster than sound travel.
However, as with most things in life, change comes, and people create new and better ways to move from one place to the other. Today, fuel-efficient airplanes have made ticket prices much more affordable to the masses. In addition, virtual and augmented reality now allow people to see and experience all places across the globe at a fraction of the price.
Entertainment: Anything Goes
For Millenials and other younger generations, having fun now is a more exciting proposition than at any other moment in history, at least as it pertains to variety and having a multitude of options to choose from. Even if the coronavirus has forced all of us to stay home for extended periods and prevented us from seeing our friends and family face to face, it hasn’t stopped us from enjoying our lives, albeit differently.
The biggest example of this is the wide range of music, television shows, and movie streaming services like Netflix and Hulu, providing listeners and viewers with an unlimited number of titles for their viewing pleasure at prices that pretty much everyone can pay. Not only that, but they come in languages as varied as English, Spanish, Japanese, Russian, and even Arabic for people of different nationalities to enjoy.
And never mind videogames. The boom in multi-player, global online platforms is something like we have never seen before.
As we have seen, the role of technology in retail continues to expand. As we continue developing as human beings, one can only imagine what we will see next.