Street Fight’s February Theme: Disrupting Retail

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This post is the latest in our “Disrupting Retail” series. It’s our editorial focus for the month of February, and you can see the rest of the series here

As we roll into 2021, it’s already February. And to continue Street Fight’s monthly tradition of editorial themes, we’re focusing February on the technologies disrupting retail. How has the past year upended brick-and-mortar commerce? And how will the industry transform in the coming months?

Of course the “past year” part of the previous paragraph is the one that’s top of mind. Global lockdowns have transformed the retail landscape by forcing companies to scramble to maintain ways to do business under new restrictions on movement.

Though a hardship, this has been a blessing in disguise for some, in that it’s accelerated digital transformation. That includes e-commerce, which jumped from 10% to 15% of U.S. consumer spending within 2020.

Beyond the traditional definition of e-commerce — ordering hard goods to be shipped to your home — other flavors of local e-commerce have also advanced. Those include curbside pickup and order-ahead: the new retail normal.

But outside of these Covid-related advancements, what about the course of retail transformation that was already underway? What about cashier-less retail, such as Amazon’s play at being a “retail as a service” powerhouse?

As we’ve examined, Amazon’s Go stores have been a Trojan Horse for its ambitions to power streamlined retail check-out for stores everywhere. This follows the AWS playbook in offering a fundamental need as a service.

Just yesterday, Amazon announced that it will bring its Amazon One palm reader technology to more stores. A component of its RaaS ambitions, this hardware identifies shoppers with a palm scan to expedite check-out.

Meanwhile, retailers like GameStop, outside of its stock price debacle, are working with Niantic to drive foot traffic through Pokémon Go gameplay. This is just one way to leverage tech to boost foot traffic.

What else is defining the current state of retail? Will Walmart and Target continue their winning streaks of positive quarterly earnings, fueled by tech adoption? And what startups are innovating and upending the sector?

We’ll answer these questions and others throughout the month. And though this builds around our monthly cadence of thematic coverage, we’ll also continue to cover all local commerce happenings.

Look out for the tag “Disrupting Retail.” We’ll label posts so you can discover them daily or actively browse them. Coverage will include our own daily reporting, as well as analytical dives from columnists and contributors.

Speaking of which, we’ll take this chance to remind you about our editorial contributor program. If you have unique perspectives, we’d love to hear from you. We’ll prioritize submissions that make concrete assertions about the future of the industries we cover.

We’ve also begun a new ritual in 2021. Each month, we’ll be aggregating comments from thought leaders that align with the monthly theme (like this). If you’re a retail expert, we’d love to include your voice.  

Reach out to us with suggestions for monthly themes, opportunities to contribute, or to amplify your brand messaging alongside this thematic coverage. This includes Street Fight’s new Thought Leaders program.

Stay tuned for much more this month.