Mid-Year Review Of The Retail Apocalypse

By David Haggith – Re-Blogged From http://www.Silver-Phoenix500.com

For a year and a half I’ve been writing about the retail apocalypse that is going to add to US financial woes. This is not a problem created by economic collapse but a problem that I have said will greatly contribute to economic collapse and that is so massive and widespread that it assures some level of economic decline all on its own. As everyone knows, the problem is largely created by a change in shopping paradigms (mostly due to Amazon) that is shuttering brick and mortar stores as people shop online.

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Retail Vacancy Rate Tops 10 Percent

By Bloomberg – Re-Blogged From Newsmax

Kids across the country are feeling the absence of Toys “R” Us. Retail landlords, too.

The amount of occupied retail real estate in 77 major U.S. metropolitan areas dropped by 3.8 million square feet (350,000 square meters) in the second quarter, the largest decline since 2009, according to a report by researcher Reis Inc. released Monday.

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Your Shopping Experience Is on the Verge of a Major Transformation. Here’s Why.

By Peter H Diamandis – Re-Blogged From Singularity Hub

Exponential technologies (AI, VR, 3D printing, and networks) are radically reshaping traditional retail.

E-commerce giants (Amazon, Walmart, Alibaba) are digitizing the retail industry, riding the exponential growth of computation.

Many brick-and-mortar stores have already gone bankrupt, or migrated their operations online.

Massive change is occurring in this arena.

For those “real-life stores” that survive, an evolution is taking place from a product-centric mentality to an experience-based business model by leveraging AI, VR/AR, and 3D printing.

Let’s dive in.

E-Commerce Trends

Last year, 3.8 billion people were connected online. By 2024, thanks to 5G, stratospheric and space-based satellites, we will grow to 8 billion people online, each with megabit to gigabit connection speeds.

These 4.2 billion new digital consumers will begin buying things online, a potential bonanza for the e-commerce world.

At the same time, entrepreneurs seeking to service these four-billion-plus new consumers can now skip the costly steps of procuring retail space and hiring sales clerks.

Today, thanks to global connectivity, contract production, and turnkey pack-and-ship logistics, an entrepreneur can go from an idea to building and scaling a multimillion-dollar business from anywhere in the world in record time.

And while e-commerce sales have been exploding (growing from $34 billion in Q1 2009 to $115 billion in Q3 2017), e-commerce only accounted for about 10 percent of total retail sales in 2017.

In 2016, global online sales totaled $1.8 trillion. Remarkably, this $1.8 trillion was spent by only 1.5 billion people — a mere 20 percent of Earth’s global population that year.

There’s plenty more room for digital disruption.

AI and the Retail Experience

For the business owner, AI will demonetize e-commerce operations with automated customer service, ultra-accurate supply chain modeling, marketing content generation, and advertising.

In the case of customer service, imagine an AI that is trained by every customer interaction, learns how to answer any consumer question perfectly, and offers feedback to product designers and company owners as a result.

Facebook’s handover protocol allows live customer service representatives and language-learning bots to work within the same Facebook Messenger conversation.

Taking it one step further, imagine an AI that is empathic to a consumer’s frustration, that can take any amount of abuse and come back with a smile every time. As one example, meet Ava. “Ava is a virtual customer service agent, to bring a whole new level of personalization and brand experience to that customer experience on a day-to-day basis,” says Greg Cross, CEO of Ava’s creator, a New Zealand company called Soul Machines.

Predictive modeling and machine learning are also optimizing product ordering and the supply chain process. For example, Skubana, a platform for online sellers, leverages data analytics to provide entrepreneurs constant product performance feedback and maintain optimal warehouse stock levels.

Blockchain is set to follow suit in the retail space. ShipChain and Ambrosus plan to introduce transparency and trust into shipping and production, further reducing costs for entrepreneurs and consumers.

Meanwhile, for consumers, personal shopping assistants are shifting the psychology of the standard shopping experience.

Amazon’s Alexa marks an important user interface moment in this regard.

Alexa is in her infancy with voice search and vocal controls for smart homes. Already, Amazon’s Alexa users, on average, spent more on Amazon.com when purchasing than standard Amazon Prime customers — $1,700 versus $1,400.

As I’ve discussed in previous posts, the future combination of virtual reality shopping, coupled with a personalized, AI-enabled fashion advisor will make finding, selecting, and ordering products fast and painless for consumers.

But let’s take it one step further.

Imagine a future in which your personal AI shopper knows your desires better than you do. Possible? I think so. After all, our future AIs will follow us, watch us, and observe our interactions — including how long we glance at objects, our facial expressions, and much more.

In this future, shopping might be as easy as saying, “Buy me a new outfit for Saturday night’s dinner party,” followed by a surprise-and-delight moment in which the outfit that arrives is perfect.

In this future world of AI-enabled shopping, one of the most disruptive implications is that advertising is now dead.

In a world where an AI is buying my stuff, and I’m no longer in the decision loop, why would a big brand ever waste money on a Super Bowl advertisement?

The dematerialization, demonetization, and democratization of personalized shopping has only just begun.

The In-Store Experience: Experiential Retailing

In 2017, over 6,700 brick-and-mortar retail stores closed their doors, surpassing the former record year for store closures set in 2008 during the financial crisis. Regardless, business is still booming.

As shoppers seek the convenience of online shopping, brick-and-mortar stores are tapping into the power of the experience economy.

Rather than focusing on the practicality of the products they buy, consumers are instead seeking out the experience of going shopping.

The Internet of Things, artificial intelligence, and computation are exponentially improving the in-person consumer experience.

As AI dominates curated online shopping, AI and data analytics tools are also empowering real-life store owners to optimize staffing, marketing strategies, customer relationship management, and inventory logistics.

In the short term, retail store locations will serve as the next big user interface for production 3D printing (custom 3D printed clothes at the Ministry of Supply), virtual and augmented reality (DIY skills clinics), and the Internet of Things (checkout-less shopping).

In the long term, we’ll see how our desire for enhanced productivity and seamless consumption balances with our preference for enjoyable real-life consumer experiences — all of which will be driven by exponential technologies.

One thing is certain: the nominal shopping experience is on the verge of a major transformation.

Implications

The convergence of exponential technologies has already revamped how and where we shop, how we use our time, and how much we pay.

Twenty years ago, Amazon showed us how the web could offer each of us the long tail of available reading material, and since then, the world of e-commerce has exploded.

And yet we still haven’t experienced the cost savings coming our way from drone delivery, the Internet of Things, tokenized ecosystems, the impact of truly powerful AI, or even the other major applications for 3D printing and AR/VR.

Perhaps nothing will be more transformed than today’s $20 trillion retail sector.

Hold on, stay tuned, and get your AI-enabled cryptocurrency ready.

Join Me

Abundance Digital Online Community: I’ve created a digital/online community of bold, abundance-minded entrepreneurs called Abundance Digital.

Abundance Digital is my ‘onramp’ for exponential entrepreneurs — those who want to get involved and play at a higher level. Click here to learn more.

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It’s Not Just Amazon’s Fault

By Vitaliy Katsenelson, CFA – Re-Blogged From http://contrarianedge.com

Retail stocks have been annihilated recently, despite the economy eking out growth. The fundamentals of the retail business look horrible: Sales are stagnating and profitability is getting worse with every passing quarter.
 
Jeff Bezos and Amazon get most of the credit, but this credit is misplaced. Today, online sales represent only 8.5 percent of total retail sales. Amazon, at $80 billion in sales, accounts only for 1.5 percent of total U.S. retail sales, which at the end of 2016 were around $5.5 trillion. Though it is human nature to look for the simplest explanation, in truth, the confluence of a half-dozen unrelated developments is responsible for weak retail sales.

‘Creative Destruction’ in 2018

By Ed Yardeni – Re-Blogged From Newsmax

The Great Disruption. The end of one year and start of the next is the perfect time to reflect and resolve to change for the better.

At the start of this year, the most popular resolutions involved the typical fare: the desire to get healthy, get organized, live life to the fullest, learn a new hobby, spend less or save more, travel and read more.

Philosophers like to wax poetic about change. Nuggets of wisdom include: “The only thing that is constant is change.” There’s also: “The more things change the more they stay the same.” And for the deep thinkers in the crowd: “No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.” Thank you, Heraclitus.

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Stores Try to Survive ‘Retail Apocalypse’

By Associated Press – Re-Blogged From Newsmax

Stores are trying to step up their game online and in person for the critical holiday season, from dangling more discounts to livening up their stores. And Amazon, which is expanding into more areas, has opened its online store of Black Friday discounts.

Department store chain Kohl’s is hoping to woo new customers by emphasizing the exact amount people can save by stacking coupons and other deals. It’s also opening at 5 p.m. on Thanksgiving, an hour earlier than last year. “Retail is changing. And there is market share to gain,” said CEO-elect Michelle Gass.

Wal-Mart’s New Robots Scan Shelves to Restock Items Faster

By Thomson Reuters – Re-Blogged From Newsmax

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is rolling out shelf-scanning robots in more than 50 U.S. stores to replenish inventory faster and save employees time when products run out.

The approximately 2-foot (0.61-meter) robots come with a tower that is fitted with cameras that scan aisles to check stock and identify missing and misplaced items, incorrect prices and mislabeling. The robots pass that data to store employees, who then stock the shelves and fix errors.

Image: Wal-Mart's New Robots Scan Shelves to Restock Items Faster
Gary-Arbach/Dreamstime