Dr Christian Meniw, CEO — Confederation of Trade of Argentina & Representative Director — Indo Argentina Chamber of Commerce writes what role technology will play in various activities associated with commerce by 2020…

In principle, it is observed that the impact of technology has been important. New sales groups like Amazon have appeared, and in general the whole sector has had to re-adapt. Although the result has not been as devastating on the retail trade as some expected, and in general e-commerce accounts for 10% of total trade according to different world trade entities, a high percentage but much smaller than traditional trade.

In fact, we are facing a series of services that are already in a state of maturity and that have a very important economic impact. It is worth analyzing the context of trade in the medium term, taking as a reference the year 2020. First of all, we must get down to the reality and taking into account the whole digital trend, we will consider whether sales will continue to take place in physical stores or if this pattern will change at some point where the stores will adopt new technology.

To elucidate this unknown, I will show below in what aspects digital will impact on the trade:

Cell phone as a tool to reach the customer: In 2020 the cell phone will become a fundamental tool not only to take potential customers to the stores but also to communicate with them and guide them in the interior.

Intelligent infrastructures: The inclusion of intelligent infrastructures in shops will be more common, for example hangers that indicate the number of likes that a garment has on social networks or intelligent shelves that use sensors to capture what is happening and send personalized messages to potential customers.

In this way prices can be updated, offers can be made or stores can adapt to the customer that is in front of a product. This forecast is backed by a study by Gartner, an information technology research consultancy that says intelligent shelves will be able to move $ 1.9 trillion worldwide by 2020.

Virtual reality and other visual technologies inside the store: It is said that a picture is worth more than a thousand words, for that reason it will become increasingly common for businesses to include technologies that allow people to “see” comfortably the product they want to buy. The Urban Research brand, for example, already has the first virtual testers installed and plans to reach 100 virtual testers by the year 2020. It also begins experimenting with digital mannequins that can be dressed virtually.

Virtual reality and other visual technologies out of the store: Until now the concept of online store has been limited to offer catalogs of products well detailed along with their prices. These catalogs are becoming more complete and of higher quality, they include a series of photos, technical specifications, comments of other users, related articles, etc, a whole collection of arguments to help the user in the purchase, although without ceasing to be at the end 2D product catalogs. In this sense, the use of augmented reality and virtual reality technologies promise to change this situation.

On the one hand, augmented reality will show how a product will remain in the place where it will be placed once purchased, which is useful, for example, when measures and the relationship between spaces are important, for instance in the case of the purchase of furniture.

On the other hand, with virtual reality, it will be possible to walk by the halls of the malls from home or simulate the store using a virtual reality glasses. It is expected that by 2020 the virtual reality helmet market will grow at a rate of 99% CAGR (The Compound Annual Growth Rate) and e-commerce becomes one of the segments in which this technology is expected to have a greater application.

It is foreseeable, therefore, that in 2020 technology has penetrated even more into the various activities associated with commerce, so that the boundaries between the offline and online world end up disappearing. Shops with virtual testers, social trading platforms, virtual walks through the home stores, among those mentioned above, are some examples that show how physical commerce and virtual stores will cease to be two different areas and, in a way, exclusive to different resources, most of the time both complementary in the development of commercial activity.

The integration of these resources will be one of the most important challenges facing the commercial sector until the year 2020, to which we ask ourselves: Is trade aware of this situation, mainly retail? Are you all prepared for the challenge?

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