AI dominates the 2019 digital retail innovations league


Artificial Intelligence (AI), payments, robotics and personalisation are dominating innovation in the retail technology industry, according to a new league table. Conducted in partnership with Webloyalty, Retail Insider’s Digital Retail Innovations Report 2019 celebrates the top 60 global retail technology breakthroughs in the retail industry over the past year.  AI remains the key technology that has been implemented by over one third of retailers (37%).

The report recognises how technology is used to create a more personalised shopping experience; with 68% of retailers using either AI (37%), Augmented Reality (AR) (15%), payment technology (22%) or delivery technology (13%) to deliver personalisation.

Amazon again dominates the list, with four innovations featuring in the top 10 spots for its utilisation of artificial intelligence, voice recognition and cutting-edge logistics.  Amazon’s grocery store, Amazon Go, has been named the digital retail innovation of 2019, up from second position last year.  The tech giant has launched small cashierless stores enabling consumers to shop through a smartphone app. Amazon Go plans to broaden its appeal to consumers by accepting cash and alternative payment types.

Luxury world fashion brand Burberry takes second place for its innovative use of Instagram’s shopping feature. The new checkout element means that consumers can directly buy through Instagram without leaving the platform when spotting an item on the feed.

The report recognises the desire by retailers to find more innovative ways to help the planet, with waste reduction and recycling a prominent theme this year. Five per cent of the retailers named use a form of biotechnology while 15% apply technology in innovative ways to help the environment; for example, Costa creating a reusable coffee cup with built in payment technology. Consistent with 2018, the food and drink industry has been heavily praised in the report with a mix of grocers and restaurants alongside the food waste businesses, taking 43% of breakthroughs listed.

Ben Stirling, managing director, Webloyalty Northern Europe, comments: “Changing commercial environments, emerging technologies and consumer power are having a clear impact on the pace of change. Despite store closures, business failures, job losses and tough seasonal performances, retailers are focusing on digital innovation to achieve a competitive edge by delivering unprecedented value, convenience and a personalised experience, by thinking innovatively about the technologies which exist today.

“While some businesses clearly have the digital infrastructure and capabilities to innovate, take Amazon with an impressive four innovations appearing in this year’s top ten, others are leaning on collaboration to achieve their strategic advantage. It is important to celebrate all of these businesses and innovations within the report.”

John Bovill, Executive Consultant Digital and Technology, All Saints says: “As the retail industry continues to face a period of uncertainty, there is no better time for retailers to focus on innovation and leadership to deliver what customers wants.

“The advancements in retail technology clearly demonstrate how new tech can be used to push the boundaries of retail and create a truly unique experience for customers. However, there is more work to be done, as retailers need to rediscover their mojo, and focus on serving and delivering what is right for their brand and market. In short, it’s about putting customers needs first if they want to survive.”