The Consumer Sector is entering a period of rapid change. Disruption and opportunities are coming in from all angles. The advent of artificial intelligence, the internet of things and big data all impact on consumer product design and distribution as well as supply chains. Challengers to the big brand world order are finding new ways to access consumers and provide services or products to by-pass existing sales models. New technology creates opportunities to reach customers in innovative ways for both the established players and the new entrants. At the same time businesses face other challenges such as shareholder activism and increasing consumer interest in the provenance of their products and the conditions under which they are produced.
We have created a series of analyses of the key issues facing the Consumer Sector which we will be publishing over the coming months.
Our first article in the series, Future of Retail: AI, VR, AR, looks at the future of retail in the context of the disruption caused to retailers and customer expectations by new technology. When you think of current trends in the consumer and retail sectors, buzzwords like "artificial intelligence", "augmented reality" and "virtual reality" spring to mind. The retail scene is undergoing fundamental disruption – and these emerging technologies are centre-stage. Traditionally, such technologies were often characterised as mere "hype" and considered better suited for sci-fi movies rather than the real world. However, they are now very much a reality and continue to develop rapidly, causing consumers and retailers alike finally to take them seriously.
Today's consumers have an overwhelmingly large range of products and services to choose from, and are inundated with a constant flow of advertisements wherever they go. The result is that they crave a more personalised experience. Retailers have therefore started to exploit the progress made by tech giants to fulfil this demand.
The gradual deployment of artificial intelligence, AR and VR in the consumer sector is enabling retailers to collect a large volume of data and gain a deep understanding of customer behaviours and preferences, which can translate into long term benefits for the consumer of the future. However, there are legal issues which arise and require consideration. In this article we explore these technologies, including examples of their use in the retail sector and associated legal issues.