Skip to main content

TechBytes: Three technologies that will disrupt retail in 2015


Last week, I took a look back at three technologies that disrupted retail in 2014. Now that we are kicking off the first work week of the New Year, it’s time to look ahead at three technologies likely to disrupt retail in 2015.



The Apple Watch smartwatch, which will hit the market later this year and come equipped with functionality for the Apple Pay digital payment service, has dominated most of the wearable technology buzz in the retail industry. But Samsung has been releasing smartwatch products for more than a year. Meanwhile, Google Glass has not caught on the way Google hoped, but still remains the granddaddy of wearable consumer digital devices.


This year, consumers will inevitably begin to integrate wearable connective technology more into their daily lives. Beyond creating a new touchpoint for executing transactions and accepting payment, wearable devices will also provide a new channel for targeted promotions, behavioral and location tracking, and customer service. The level of intimacy and personalization will be even greater than that provided by mobile devices, requiring retailers to show even more sensitivity to consumer privacy and comfort.



Responsive design helps retailers easily optimize their e-commerce sites for the mobile channel, but native apps help retailers create specifically tailored mobile experiences. For example, apps let retailers more easily offer mobile consumers features such as in-store navigation, location- and time-specific promotions, social shopping with friends, and virtually trying on apparel items.


App use in general is exploding among consumers, with companies of all types offering apps that bolster the utility of mobile devices. It is thus only natural for apps to become a much more significant and disruptive influence in how consumers shop and engage with retailers.


Retail apps don’t have to only come from retailers. Third-party apps, such as the Bilt app from SAP which offers consumers access to enhanced at-home assembly directions and services, can also serve as positive disruptors in the mobile customer service environment.



Amazon’s drone delivery plans are not likely to come to fruition this year. However, the drone genie is out of the bottle. Retailers are going to start finding a variety of purposes for a technology that was not even on the radar screen (pun intended) before Amazon’s Prime Air drone delivery service announcement in fall 2013.


TGI Fridays recently launched a drone-based holiday promotion that produced some unintended bad publicity when a journalist visiting a restaurant received facial injuries from spinning drone blades. However, other retailers will undoubtedly learn from the error of TGI Fridays’ ways and find safer ways of using drones as promotional tools.


Drones could also serve as useful and disruptive tools to support programs like curbside pickup. There are surely other drone-based efforts in development to support a host of unexpected and innovative processes. Drones may not wind up disrupting retail in exactly the manner Amazon intended, but they are almost certain to cause disruption.

This ad will auto-close in 10 seconds