But what does the CES mean for retail?

The annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas is an orgy of new technological ideas, gadgets and solutions to problems I never knew I had.

The exciting things for me were drones, some so large you can sit in them (really!), LEDs featuring everywhere including in wafer thin screens that are so flexible you can fold them, and the surge of integration, with Amazon’s Alexa leading the way, allowing anything to be connected to everything – didn’t you always want to operate your cat flap from your car?

But what does this all mean for multiple retailers in the UK?

Well, a lot of the products are very futuristic and it will be a long time before they come to the mass market.  However, you can imagine 3D printing coming to many shelves near you very soon, and developments in health monitoring will create a dilemma for many a retailer.  Should the devices be merchandised with the laptops and phones, or within the Health and Beauty department?

It’s not just products for resale of course that will be impacted.  For example, virtual reality is becoming a reality with ever more sophisticated simulations that will enable category managers to routinely visualise customer journeys through their stores.  And what about those wafer thin LED screens?  These will become cheap so expect to see them everywhere in stores promoting offers and products, and perhaps long heralded electronic SELs will finally actually become the universal norm.

Technological advances will continue to create many challenges for physical retailers as consumers become progressively more mobile and connected, so all the more important that retailers stay close to developments in technology to leverage opportunities when they arise.

Peter Bailey

Owner and Director of eXPD8