Bold Retail Industry Predictions for 2014 by Revel Systems

It is that time of the year when folks make predictions of major technology trends for next year. Revel Systems, an innovative provider of iPad-based point-of-sale (POS) solutions, recently announced predictions that will shape the retail and technology industries in 2014. It predicts that the technology and retail industries will begin to adopt innovations that will redefine how the two worlds collide.
Mobile Currency. Bitcoin. Social Capital at the Checkout. Retail Gamification…
Revel Systems forecasts that brick-and-mortar retail in the coming year will be more streamlined and integrated with online experiences. The company’s top execs believe that we are at the forefront of breakthrough technologies and that the industry is headed towards a more integrated and user-friendly approach to retail. Revel Systems predicts the following industry advancements will begin to take shape in 2014:
  • POS will integrate with personal data trackers such as Fuelband, Fitbit, and Up. As consumers burn calories during their day, these devices will communicate with POS systems during order times to calculate how many calories will be consumed, and recommend meal and menu items based on daily caloric intake goals. Smartphones will check calendars and geocentric data to offer consumers the best eating experience based on their schedule and preferences.
  • Mobile and digital currency will go mainstream in retail. Mobile payment options will bridge people’s online wallets with their physical ones at the checkout. People will be able to tap into digital currencies like Paypal, Google Wallet, and Bitcoin to pay for items at the checkout line.
  • Customer relationship management (CRM) technologies will become “smart” and predictive. Loyalty programs are usually an afterthought to the POS; however, by using smart peripherals such as facial recognition software, a retailer’s menu boards and POS displays can use predictive modeling based on past order history to recommend items for cross-sell and upsell opportunities. POS terminals will act as beacons for the mobile consumer.
  • Social capital begins to influence personal pricing at brick and mortar. CRM systems will also include social data so that more people who are influential on Twitter and Facebook can receive perks based on their digital footprint and if they help publicize a business through checking in or uploading product or establishment photos. Offline and online will experiences merge.
  • Order-ahead features will become the norm. Online and mobile ordering are standard, but with order-ahead functionality, people will no longer have to wait in line to make a purchase. This changes the nature of how retailers interact with consumers in restaurants, leading to more streamlined and intuitive ordering experience.
  • Gamification will be offered in POS systems. With the popularity of gamification technologies like Yelp and Foursquare, POS systems will begin to offer incentives such as achievement badges and virtual rewards for both establishment owners and customers. Retailers will have the potential to unlock achievements like, "You just sold your 1 millionth coffee!” while consumers can earn recognitions like, “Congratulations, you are the 2,000th customer.”
Waiting for Millennials’ Buying Power?
While these tools and approaches should appear cool to young people (after all, Revel Systems CEO and co-founder Lisa Falzone is 28), most wealth is still controlled by people over 50. New stores or concepts may attempt to use these features, but only time will tell how much real money will flow through these tools. If a store has to make a large investment that focuses on a category of users with relatively limited spending (i.e., recent graduates burdened with large student loans, higher home prices and/or rent), we might in fact see increased churning of stores or brands. If more purchases become virtual and online, brick-and-mortar stores will probably have fewer dollars for cool technology.
Revel Systems also predicts that 2014 will see the rise of Bitcoin to pay for everyday items. Overstock recently announced that it would start accepting Bitcoin as a payment means in 2014, and there was a recent report of someone usingd bitcoin to purchase a luxury vehicle at a Tesla dealership. Bitcoin is currently unregulated, but the bigger trading floors want to step in and start regulating it.  The virtual encrypted currency was designed in a way that it would not suffer from inflation since there are a limited number that could ever be made. Unlike credit cards, you have to have money to buy bitcoin and spend it.
The jury is still out on the future of Bitcoin, as it is difficult to imagine governments staying out of the way. Not only is Bitcoin associated with the possibility of money laundering and other illicit uses, but it also threatens individual countries’ competitiveness via obviating their fiscal policies and controlling currency exchanges and inflation. The real question that matters is consumer adoption and merchant availability. Bitcoin will likely start in the following areas:
  1. Third world countries that need universal currency
  2. High-end niche stores where Bitcoin is popping up now, i.e., Lamborghini and Tesla dealerships
So, the buying power of the millennials to afford these fancy new tools and pricey goods is questionable. Still, retailers should be aware of these predictions and trends, which will become mainstream sooner rather than later, but I am just not sure whether it will all happen in earnest in 2014.
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