Retail as a Service: Amazon will Create (and Destroy) with Cashierless Checkout Solution

Mike Boland: The innovation including and surrounding cashierless checkout goes beyond payments to affect a broader set of functions like supply chain, inventory management, and store layouts. It’s like a retail toolkit in a box, with cash-flow friendly pricing, à la SaaS. You may have heard of it: It’s called retail as a service (RaaS), and it could transform the next decade of retail. Amazon will lead the way.

What Will AR Mean for Consumer Brands?

What’s driving AR today? And what does it mean for big consumer brands? Our lead analyst Mike Boland tackles these questions in this week’s Road Map column, which delves into the tech giants’ investments in AR and what they mean for the future of XR-driven brand advertising.

Will AR Bring Together the Best of Online and Offline Shopping?

Mike Boland: We know about the advantages of e-commerce. There’s more supply, transparency, cost efficiency, inventory (a.k.a “endless aisle”), and the ability to dynamically search and filter product attributes. AR can engender a sort of hybrid UX that brings these features to store aisles. The losers in the next era of retail will be those who try to fight this experiential innovation.

Not All Voice Assistants are Created Equal

Several tech giants are chasing voice search and assistant apps. They’re motivated by different factors—each seeing voice as a way to support, grow, and protect their unique core businesses.

Who Will Own Your Augmented Reality?

Questions about AR ownership will be particularly contentious wherever money is changing hands, such as in AR advertising. Courts will face questions such as ownership of digital ad inventory when there are AR overlays on private property (or on other ads). There could be similar gray area in retail & commerce.

Will Apple Help Assemble the ‘Internet of Places’?

The AR cloud is the missing piece in the vision we all have for how AR should work. It’s the spatial map of the world that will let AR devices understand their surroundings. Taking this into account, the news that Apple is collecting its own data for Apple Maps may have implications for AR.

How AR Will Fundamentally Change Search, Participating in an ‘Internet of Places’

Online-to-offline (O2O) commerce is one area where AR will find a home. Just think: Is there any better technology to unlock O2O commerce than one that literally melds physical and digital worlds? AR can shorten gaps in time and space that currently separate those interactions (e.g. search) from offline outcomes.

Who’s Using Local AR? And How Often?

According to a recent survey, AR users like what they see, with a whopping 73% reporting high or very high satisfaction. But non-users report explicit disinterest, with the biggest reason being the rather daunting “just not interested.” This presents a big hill for AR app developers to climb. 

Is Voice the Future of Local AR?

Visual AR won’t go away and is aligned with several use cases like gaming. But audio could get here sooner and take over a certain share of micro moments like getting informed about people or surroundings. We’re talking local discovery, shopping, and proximity-based social media.

AR Cloud: The Linchpin for Local AR

What about the non-Googles of the world? How will they create AR and visual search apps that can map environments reliably and return the correct info or graphics? The answer is the still-theoretical but critical AR Cloud.

The ABC’s of AR: Always Be Closing

In these early days of augmented reality (AR), we’re learning a lot about consumer behavior and preferences — the same learning curve defined the early days of smartphone apps. One lesson so far is that consumer AR use cases will be fairly limited. It’s not a silver bullet and it’s not for everyone.

‘SMB OS’: Expanding the Local Pie

SMB OS isn’t a new concept, though it’s now emerging and crystallizing in new ways. Advancing it are supporting technologies like cloud computing, mobility and cash-flow friendly SaaS pricing. Much of this trickles down from enterprise world, as it often does.

How Voice Assistants Could Transform Local (Part II)

Voice assistants continue to evolve as a medium for local search, as I examined here last month. But what does it mean for local media players and startups? If consumers are increasingly searching with voice, how do you wedge your way into that conversation?

Is the Camera the ‘New Search Box’ for Local Discovery? Part II

It’s often said in the ad-tech world, and other sectors that are reliant on data, that “Content is King, but Data is God.” This is increasingly true in local ad-tech and martech given the need for “ground-truth” conversions to attribute ROI. And it will equally apply in local AR.

AR and VR — Will Local Advertisers Bite?

Local advertising is a $150 billion market, and is particularly conducive to AR, given the technology’s ability to qualify purchase decisions in the commerce-heavy offline world. There will be a land grab for this digital real estate as mobile AR gains consumer traction. There will be also questions about who “owns” that virtual space.

Voice Assistants Could Transform Local — But Not Necessarily How You Might Think

Voice search and AI are widely misunderstood. Generalist tech coverage has painted the picture of an opportunity that resides mostly with stationary devices like Amazon Echo. But the real scale will happen elsewhere.

Is the Camera the ‘New Search Box’ for Local Discovery?

Though still nascent, visual search builds on a few key trends. Smartphones have increasingly powerful optics; AI and machine learning support computer vision to identify items; and there’s behavioral alignment with millennials who use the smartphone camera as a communication tool.

Where Will VR Fit Into Local Advertising? Part II

It’s important to step back and look at the reality of consumer adoption of VR. The technology is pretty nascent and future-looking — but to what degree? That question can partly be answered by original data on consumer VR behavior and sentiments.

iPhoneX, AR & Local: How Do All the Pieces Fit?

There are lots of ways that augmented reality (AR) is a natural fit for local commerce. But questions remain: How will AR will materialize in local? How long it will take? And how do these factors signal local startups and media companies where to place their chips?

Where Will VR Fit Into Local Advertising?

How will advertising play out in (admittedly nascent) VR, especially in local? We’ll likely see the same early and ongoing misfires, such as banner ads. Or, as in video experiences, we’ll likely see a fair share of legacy formats — like pre-roll ads — ham-handedly shoehorned into VR.