Over the next 12 months, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Augmented Reality (AR) look set to make a huge explosion into the mainstream. We've already seen the mass adoption of AR apps like Pokémon GO. After its launch in the UK on 14 July 2016, a staggering 6.1 million adults had downloaded the app just a month later. Businesses across a whole host of sectors are now exploring how AR and AI could revolutionise the way they operate. The retail sector is one industry that is leading the way in this technology revolution.
The steady decline in business profitability across the retail industry threatens to erode future investment, innovation and shareholder value. Fortunately, the age of AI-powered retail is upon us, promising an unprecedented amount of data and information that, if used in the right way, can help retailers grow their businesses and at the same time revolutionize the customer experience. Thanks to Amazon's Alexa and Google Home, the technology is becoming more pervasive. It's changing how we shop, how we experience brands and how we live our everyday lives. As AI becomes normal for today's consumers, it's hard to believe that, as recently as the turn of the Millennium, the technology was mostly restricted to science fiction and the horizon-scans of the most forward-thinking companies.
Over the next 12 months, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Augmented Reality (AR) look set to make a huge explosion into the mainstream. We've already seen the launch of various smart virtual assistants, such as Alexa, Amazon's Echo and Google Home, with four million people already having adopted a device in the UK. And Apple is due to join the voice-activated assistant space with its HomePod device that will be released towards the end of this year. Recently, there has been a lot of conversation around how these developing technologies could change the way we shop. With the rise of mobile shopping, the way we make purchases has been quickly evolving.
Over the past 15 years, the traditional retail model has been dramatically disrupted by online retail. With the introduction of online retail, shopping is gradually being transformed from an offline activity to an online one. That was the first retail disruption, but it's not the last. Increasingly online retailers and offline retailers are evolving to provide an immersive, seamless, and personalised shopping experience. Customers don't want a fully digital experience while shopping; rather they want a digital shopping experience that is so seamless as to not seem like a shopping experience at all.