By 2019, about 40% of retailers will develop a customer experience architecture supported by artificial intelligence, with such platforms providing up to a 30% conversion increase and a 25% revenue bump due to hyper-micro personalization, according to IDC Retail Insights' list of 10 retail predictions.
Among other predictions, IDC speculated that by 2021 10% of chain retail sales will be created and managed via voice-enabled digital assistants, which will accelerate the predominance of marketplaces for buying everyday goods.
Also, in the midst of rapidly evolving cyberthreats, 75% of retailers are expected to adopt AI-based cyber-defense technologies by 2020, according to IDC.
AI is mentioned repeatedly in IDC's predictions, and for good reason. AI and voice-driven virtual assistants have already shaken up the retail scene in a number of ways, so the notion that they will now redefine things like customer experience and cybersecurity isn't coming out of left field.
IDC's predictions reinforce the results of a variety of studies we have seen on AI's potential to take over retail, but especially an October study from SLI that suggested the majority of retailers have already invested in or have decided they will invest in AI.
Other predictions include: 50% of retailers adopting an omnichannel commerce platform by 2019, along with the top 30% of retailers investing in foundational platform technologies that are "cloud-based, AI-enabled and composable."
By 2020, the IDC predicts that over half of shoppers will expect near-perfect fulfillment, causing retailers to increase technology budgets, and by 2021, retailers will have "embraced geospatial data." The report also predicts that customer satisfaction will rise for retailers that have engaged with them through AI, augmented reality and IoT.
While a lot of these predictions are more long range, the seeds for these changes will be sowed next year, according to the IDC. In 2018, IDC predicts that retailers will accelerate their technology investments, not just in AI, but in logistics, fulfillment and other areas.
"Platforms with a digital core play a central role, but well-thought-out [digital transformation] use cases will enable organizations to focus on executing against their customer experience objectives in stepwise fashion, staying agile and adjusting on the fly to continue to serve the customer in their stream of life, above all," Leslie Hand, vice president of IDC Retail Insights, said in a statement. "Attention to consumer need, customer journey patterns, and the ability to maintain customer loyalty by engaging the consumer continually in their context is the key to success."