Just 20 years into the 21st century, we have already seen remarkable changes that we could never have anticipated. We've come up with 20 predictions that explore what the next 20 years may have in store for your organization.

Those who like shopping will like it even more two decades from now. Virtual reality (VR) dressing rooms with augmented reality (AR) and artificial intelligence (AI) technology will let you see what an outfit looks like on you without physically trying it on. You will be able to browse the wares at a shop without leaving your home. You will be able to go shopping with a friend in your favourite stores, even when you live in different countries.

Shopping will be done from the comfort of your home

In the future, retailers will use AI, machine learning and cognitive computing to deliver personalized 'moments' to consumers, enhancing the shopping experience and brand loyalty. They will create virtual showrooms and stores, offering a fully immersive shopping experience from the comfort of home (or anywhere else). Using AR, customers can overlay virtual elements onto the real world so, for example, they can see what they look like in a new outfit or how a new couch looks in their living rooms. Consumers can try before buying in a virtual or augmented environment, significantly reducing returns and resulting waste, creating an enhanced shopping experience.

The bricks and mortar part of retail will become 'phygital,' combining physical experiences with digital technologies such as AR and VR, driven by AI, to create much more personalized, immersive experiences in stores. Virtual reality dressing rooms will superimpose outfits on customers, while smart mirrors will make recommendations on fit and style (and recommend other related products). These interactions will generate insights to help retailers provide personal advice to customers, reduce returns and make smarter inventory decisions. Products will be created on-demand by 3D printers and delivered by autonomous vehicles or drones.

Over the next 20 years, large retailers will build out their own fleets of drones, while smaller retailers will use third-party drone providers. This will provide faster, more transparent delivery of packages, while helping retailers keep their delivery costs down. Combined with virtual storefronts and AR applications, drones will also make it much easier for retailers to reach customers in remote locations and thereby expand their customer base.

Twenty years from now, the use of drones will be ubiquitous, affecting many facets of our lives. By then, we will have solved the logistics of drone traffic and regulated their use. They will also be cheaper, which will enable algorithmic commerce, where retailers predict what you want and deliver it to your home. Any items to be returned can also be easily be picked up by a drone and, through AI, the devices will learn your likes and dislikes, delivering items suited to your needs when you need them.

Predictions pulse

Trends, breakthroughs, milestones, and insights on our path towards leaping into the future of retail.

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Curious to find out what else could happen between now and 2041? Read our other predictions:

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